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Father John Corapi and the State of Due Process for Accused Priests

[Second Editor's note: We have appended the message of June 20 from SOLT.]

[Editor's note: In light of today's news about Fr. Corapi, we are rerunning this article which originally appeared on Catholic Lane on April 4 ,2011. We have appended Fr. Corapi's message, released today, to the end of this article, as it stunningly validates the points made herein.]

 Unlike many cases of accused Catholic priests, accusations against Father John Corapi have focused a spotlight on due process in the Catholic Church.

A zero-tolerance policy without due process that de facto impugns the reputations of the accused is immoral. The Church has a duty to protect the innocent, even if the innocent is a priest.  Of course, the Church has a moral duty to make sure that the scandal of abuse and cover-up is never repeated, but it cannot willfully sacrifice the reputations of the innocent . . . The end does not justify the means. I do not know that any of this applies to the Father Corapi case, but we have seen this happen in other cases too and it is wrong – Pat Archbold, March 20, 2011 at www.NCRegister.com/blog

Those are some of the sanest words I have read about the matter of Father John Corapi, a gifted priest who, at this writing, has been sidelined by accusations of sex and drug abuse brought by an unidentified adult woman.

Before I write further, I should point out that unlike many of those writing on this topic in the Catholic on-line world, I am not a follower of Father Corapi. I don’t dislike him either. His preaching style and message just haven’t touched me the way they seem to have touched many others. I simply mean to say that I am not a disgruntled fan driven to champion the cause of a spiritual icon whose good name has been cast into the abyss. If Father Corapi never preached in public again, that fact alone would elicit no emotional response from me beyond my concern for justice.

Yet I am deeply troubled, like Father Corapi himself, by a zero tolerance policy that treats accused priests as if they were guilty unless they can manage to prove themselves innocent. As Father Corapi pointed out in his statement, the “damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious,” and the procedure for addressing it “has little regard for any form of meaningful due process.” This must not be the last word in a Church built upon the Truth of the Gospel.

I cannot speak directly to the case of Father John Corapi except to point out the inherent injustice of it. I have been writing for some time about the state of justice and due process for Catholic priests who are accused. Like many Catholics, I was angry about the sex abuse scandal in the priesthood. In 2002, I was aghast at the revelations that swept out of Boston across the U.S. detailing claims of abuse by priests. This went on below the public radar for years while bishops moved some accused priests from parish to parish erring on the side of misguided assurances by treatment centers and psychologists.

I was angry about all this until I became aware of the extent to which our Church and our priests have been subjected to rampant fraud. As unjust as the Father Corapi case is, it is at least current. He and his supporters at least have an opportunity to gather information that could point to less than stellar motives for his accuser’s claims. Already, the claim has has surfaced that his accuser — whose name, to date, has been shielded from public scrutiny — had previously threatened to “destroy” Father Corapi. If clear evidence of guilt is not forthcoming soon, then it is time for the true voice of the faithful to help restore Fr. John Corapi’s good name and ministry.

Mounting any defense at all, however, is simply not a luxury that most accused priests have had. In the early 1990s, insurance companies ended coverage for damages when Catholic institutions were sued in sex abuse claims. Since then, a full seventy percent of the claims against priests have alleged abuse that is decades old, and for which no clear evidence of either guilt or innocence could possibly exist.

In all claims against priests in the United States since 2002, the accused priests – if they are even still living – have been placed on “administrative leave,” but often with little hope of ever clearing their names. Their bishops assure them and the public that their suspensions are “pending investigation,” but there is often no legitimate investigation. How could there be after the passage of decades? Many of the claims are deemed “credible” solely because a diocese fears litigation and decides to settle.

While sitting at my computer typing this, I received an e-mail from a prominent  U. S. Catholic writer informing me of another case that has arisen in his diocese. An 80-year-old man has just demanded settlement for alleged sex abuse by a priest some sixty-five years ago. The priest, who had never before been accused, died over fifty years ago, but this fact did not cause the diocesan PR handlers to question the claim at all. On the way to settlement, they issued a press release calling for “any other victims of Father X to come forward.” His name has already been released to the public as a “credibly” accused sex offender priest.

In his landmark 2010 book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church, David F. Pierre, Jr. described the “due process” extended to priests in one diocese during a typical round of mediated settlements:

In 2002, [the Manchester] New Hampshire diocese faced accusations of abuse from 62 individuals. Rather than spending the resources and the time looking into the merits of the cases, ‘Diocesan officials did not even ask for specifics such as the dates and specific allegations for the claims’ New Hampshire’s Union Leader reported [Nov. 27, 2002] . . .  It was almost as simple as a trip to an ATM machine   . . .  ‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ a pleased, and much richer, plaintiff attorney admitted” — Double Standard, pp 125-126).

I have researched and written extensively about the case of one falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned priest from the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire who was one of the subjects of the mediated settlement described above. Father Gordon MacRae writes weekly for a remarkable Catholic blog, These Stone Walls (www.TheseStoneWalls.com) . He could have left prison over 14 years ago had he actually been guilty and willing to say so. Father MacRae will remain in prison for sixty-seven years unless his case can be overturned with new evidence. That’s ironic given that he was convicted with no evidence at all beyond the word of someone who walked away with $200,000 from the priest’s diocese. In one of the most egregious subversions of due process I have seen, the Diocese of Manchester issued a press release declaring him guilty before his trial.

One of Father MacRae’s accusers recanted this year, and provided a disturbing account of how he was enticed by others into falsely accusing the priest with the promise of a vast windfall of money. It is in fact money – not sex, not abuse, and not celibacy– that has driven the scandal since 2002 and sabotaged the civil liberties of accused priests. Father John Corapi’s superiors should reveal any financial demand brought by his accuser/s as well as their history of settlement of such demands.

Dredging for Dollars

Many Catholics have not yet seen through attempts in various states to extend civil statutes of limitations so that Catholic institutions can be sued long after current time limits have expired. The trend is based on a dubious claim that victims of abuse require decades to come forward. The claim is baseless. People are accused of sex abuse in the U.S. every day. Public school teachers are exponentially more likely than priests to be accused of abuse, but only priests routinely face claims that are decades old. A pattern of mediated settlement of these claims without thorough investigation has placed all of our priests in harm’s way.

Around the U.S., bishops and other Catholic leaders have rallied support to oppose extensions of civil statutes of limitations. As more than one bishop has pointed out, statutes of limitations exist in legal systems to promote justice, not hinder it. Witnesses die, memories fade, facts are blurred, and justice is subverted by old claims. Our bishops are justified in opposing “ex post facto” laws that have but one goal: to target and bankrupt the Catholic Church.

There is a problem, however, and it’s a serious one for Catholics concerned about due process for accused priests.  “Prescription” is a term in Church law that describes the length of time in which a delict (a crime) exists and must be prosecuted. Canon law placed time limits on prescription because the Church long ago recognized the challenge to justice when accusations against priests are so old that there could be no legitimate investigation or defense.

So at the very same time many bishops opposed retroactive extensions of statutes of limitations in civil law, the U.S. bishops as a body heavily lobbied the Holy See for retroactive dispensation of the Church’s own statute of limitations. The result is that no matter how long ago an accusation was claimed to have occurred, the priests accused are removed from ministry, placed on administrative leave, and subjected to draconian penalties including possible dismissal from the priesthood without trial or any defense at all. Once accused, many priests cannot afford lawyers to protect their own rights while their bishops’ and accusers’ lawyers enter into settlement negotiations.

Our bishops must not argue statutes of limitations from two polar opposite points of view depending on their own interests. If extending statutes of limitations is unjust in civil law, it is equally unjust in canon law. I do not write this because I wish to be seen in confrontation with Church officials. On the contrary, I love our Church. However, this blatant double standard, and the rampant suppression of the rights of accused priests that results from it, is poised to be the next wave of The Scandal.

The Church must Herself be a mirror of justice. Cases like the one presented by Father John Corapi can, if true, cast a harsh light upon the state of justice and due process in the Church.  An accusation, without evidence or corroboration, becomes enough to remove a priest from ministry indefinitely, and often forever.  We are uncertain at this juncture of the exact evidence or corroboration presented by Father Corapi’s accuser to his superiors and bishop.  The fact that Father Corapi protests his administrative leave would lead an objective observer to conclude that Father Corapi himself believes the process to be unjust.  He is in a unique position to inform Catholics of the precarious state of civil rights, due process, and a presumption of innocence when priests are accused.

_____________________

Message of June 17 from Fr. Corapi:

God Love You, God Bless You, and Good-Bye.

This Sunday, June 19, 2011, is both Trinity Sunday on the Catholic liturgical calendar and Fathers’ Day on the secular calendar. It is a day I’ll never forget, and sadly so. It is the twentieth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. For twenty years I was called “father.” I am very thankful for those twenty years. I could have easily died any number of times, any number of ways in my life before that, so I consider it all a bonus, an undeserved bonus. To all of you that have communicated support, ordination anniversary congratulations, and other kind sentiments, I am greatly thankful, and I do not take that for granted.

All things change, only God stays the same, so I have to tell you about a major change in my life. I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer. There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone. I have been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest. The present complaint that you have heard about is, as far as I know, from the one person that I can honestly say I did more to help and support than any human being in my entire life. I forgive her and hope only good things for her. I am not going to get into a back and forth or argument with the Church or anyone else about this matter.

Suffice it to say that I love the Catholic Church and accept what has transpired. Unfortunately, the process used is inherently and fatally flawed, but the bishops have the power, apparently, to operate anyway they see fit. I cannot give a lengthy explanation of what has transpired, but I can tell you that the most likely outcome is that they leave me suspended indefinitely and just let me fade away. They can’t prove I’m guilty of the things alleged because I’m not, and they can’t prove I’m innocent because that is simply illogical and impossible. All civilized societies know that. Certain leaders in the Catholic Church apparently do not.

I accept moving on, but I am not ready to be altogether extinguished just yet. In the final analysis I have only one of only two viable choices:
1. I can quietly lie down and die, or
2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on.

I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it. He in fact threatened to release a reprehensible and libelous letter to all of the bishops if they did not suspend me. He has a perfect right to do so, and I defend that right. Bishops aren’t bound by civil laws and procedures in internal Church matters. I agree with that, and would defend to the death the Church’s right to proceed as they see fit. He is the bishop and he has the right to govern as he sees fit. It isn’t an easy task. Many forces besiege him, including pressure from other bishops.

My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process. The Church will conclude that I am not cooperating with the process because I refuse to give up all of my civil and human rights in order to hold harmless anyone who chooses to say defamatory and actionable things against me with no downside to them. The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be. Some of the things that might surprise you about the way some of the bishops treat accused priests are as follows:

1.    The identity of the accuser is not revealed. You can guess, but you don’t actually know. Nor are the exact allegations made known to you. Hence, you have an interesting situation of having to respond to an unknown accuser making unknown accusations (unknown to the accused and his counsel).

2.    The persons chosen to investigate the allegations normally have no qualifications to do so. They certainly didn’t graduate from the FBI academy, nor do they have any other background to qualify them to interrogate or otherwise interview witnesses.

3.    There are no set rules of evidence or norms of procedure.

4.    You are for all practical purposes assumed guilty until you can prove you are innocent. This one is truly baffling. No civilized society operates that way. If you are accused of something you are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

5.    The accused and his counsel have no right to obtain and review any of the evidence against him.

6.    The accused and his counsel are not provided the names of witnesses, nor are they permitted to cross-examine them.

7. There is a general unwillingness or outright refusal by certain of the         bishops to abide by applicable statutes of limitations, both in canon and civil law. There are good reasons for these statutes. Time has a way of clouding memories and distorting perceptions.

By the way, Canon Law does not dictate this. They choose to selectively ignore or violate both Canon Law and Civil Law, as they deem appropriate and or expeditious. Once again, they apparently have the discretionary power to do this, and if that’s the way it is I have to accept that as reality.

The bottom line is that the only way a just outcome is likely, in my view and that of my counsel, both civil and canon lawyers, is by accident, rather than as a result of the process.

I will not try to fight this irrational and unjust situation for the simple reason that I don’t want to be placed in an adversarial posture against the Church. For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep. Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that.

I can’t do what I can’t do. I can only do what I can do. I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep—this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world. I am, indeed, not ready to be extinguished. Under the name “The Black Sheep Dog,” I shall be with you through radio broadcasts and writing. My autobiography, “The Black Sheep Dog,” is almost ready for publication. My topics will be broader than in the past, and my audience likewise is apt to be broader. I’ll do what I can under the circumstances.

Please don’t bother the bishop or complain because it will do no good and it wastes valuable time and energy, both his and yours.

I hope you stay with us and follow us into our new domain and name of “The Black Sheep Dog.” Through writing and broadcasting we hope to continue to dispense truth and hope to a world so much in need of it. For those of you who choose to part company and go away from us, we wish you well and thank you for your many kindnesses over the years. We’ll miss you in our usual meeting places, but assure you that there will be new places for us to meet, just like in “the good old days,” so for now,

God bless you, God love you, and goodbye.

John Corapi (once called “father,” now “The Black Sheep Dog”)

_________________________________

Message of June 20 from SOLT

Official SOLT Statement Regarding Fr John Corapi

As the Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), I issue the following statement on behalf of the Society.

On 16 March 2011, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the SOLT received a complaint against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. As is normal procedure and due to the gravity of the accusation alleging conduct not in concert with the priestly state or his promises as a member of a society of apostolic life of diocesan right, Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry (put on administrative leave) until such a time that the complaint could be fully investigated and due process given to Fr. Corapi. In the midst of the investigation, the SOLT received a letter from Fr. Corapi, dated June 3, 2011, indicating that, because of the physical, emotional and spiritual distress he has endured over the past few years, he could no longer continue to function as a priest or a member of the SOLT. Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation.

At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT to not only proceed with the policies outlined in their own constitutions, but also with the proper canonical procedures to determine the credibility of the allegations against Fr. Corapi. We reiterate that Fr. Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes. If the allegations had been found to be credible, the proper canonical due process would have been offered to Fr. Corapi, including his right to defense, to know his accuser and the complaint lodged, and a fair canonical trial with the right of recourse to the Holy See. On June 17, 2011, Fr. John Corapi issued a public statement indicating that he has chosen to cease functioning as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. We request your prayers and the intercession of the Blessed Mother for the healing of Fr. Corapi and for any who have been negatively affected by Fr. Corapi’s decision to end his ministry as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

Fr Gerrard Sheehan, SOLT
Regional Priest Servant


Ryan A. MacDonald, a convert to Catholicism, has published in many Catholic and secular venues. His comments on the priesthood crisis have appeared in Catholic World Report, Our Sunday Visitor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, and the National Catholic Reporter.  He is an occasional writer at www.TheseStoneWalls.com and  a number of other online Catholic venues. He can be reached at macdonaldryan8@gmail.com).


  • goral

    It’s about the money! The people who bring such cases forward have to eat, they need money. The ulterior motive is to destroy the Church. One can not destroy the Church without money for the campaign. Just as ACLU lawyers find the way to the money of the defense, so the church lawyers also get paid for capitulating.
    The lawyers on both sides have the pin number to the ATM of the archdiocese.

    The bishops then had hundred percent tolerance, the bishops now have zero tolerance. Both policies are unjust and do not address the problem. Both take the easy and cowardly way out and both do great harm to the Church.

    Evil fights us with our own money, it binds us with our own unjust policy and it would defeat us with our own hierarchy except for the fact that the Head of the Church is Christ.

    This may be the bite that chokes the opposition. This time Fr. Corapi is the victim. This time EWTN is part of the defense. This time the www can better get the information out on the particulars of the case. This time most of us see the bishops as mere pawns.

    This is not like the case against Fr. MacRae.
    I pray that this is God’s plan to expose all of those who are in it for the money. That’s all we need. The rest will take it’s course.

    Someone said that the truth is like a lion, just open the door of the cage and the lion will do what it needs to do.
    Please God, open the door so that the LA lion will once again prowl the airwaves.

  • Tarheel

    Money is most definitely the cause behind Fr Corapi’s case and many others before his. I don’t completely agree with how the zero tolerance policy is enforced but I feel that zero tolerance is correct. I feel that in each case where a priest or other clergy is involved, an immediate investigation needs to start and allow the priest to prepare a defense.

    Christ taught us to offer the other cheek when slapped, but I don’t think he meant to completely “roll over and play dead”

    Our priests deserve justice. Not just for them but all of the Church.

  • florin

    I have heard of cases where lawyers almost ran over each other in order to grab a sex abuse case against a Catholic Priest, bragging that they would make tons of money with little or no work at all. This is a disgrace – I don’t care what the cost, these cases should be reopened and anyone who received compensation because of false accusations should go to jail and so should the lawyers.

  • Ryan MacDonald

    These comments are excellent, and much appreciated. Goral made my own point perhaps better than I did. Though I’m sure it’s unintended, Fr. Corapi’s situation has at least the potential of pointing to what are perhaps graver injustices committed against accused priests who are not in the category of “celebrity status.” Few people speak up for their due process. Goral made the point very well. Tarheel also makes an excellent point. However, the typical claims against priests – more than 70% of them – allege behaviors that are 30 or 40 years old or older. It would be nice to believe that lawyers on all sides are investigating such claims for the truth, but that would also be naive. Claims that are a decade or more old are not really investigated at all. Florin also makes a good point. I, too, have heard of lawyers tripping over each other to bring these claims, but unfortunately, diocesan priests earning $8,000 a year can rarely afford a lawyer when their rights are threatened. Thanks again for such thoughtful comments.

  • graymatter

    Yup, it’s the money. In my own diocese, a man has brought up accusations of decades-old abuse. He says it ruined his life and he could never keep a job or marriage together. He was an emotional wreck. The diocese offered to pay for counseling, to set him up with psychologists, doctors, counselors, whomever he wanted, while they looked into the case. Nope. He wanted none of that. Just hurry up and get to the settlement.

  • Tarheel

    Ryan you bring up an interesting point. Our Priests make way less than minimum wage. And rarely is there a week that goes by without a special collection for one of many of the wonderful charities in the Church.

    So why not a special collection to provide for any and all legal assistance our clergy need/

  • guitarmom

    As much as my heart breeaks for priests who are wrongly accused — and for Fr. Corapi in particular, we need to avoid being presumptive that “It’s all about the money.” I know a man who was abused by a priest as a teen. He visibly shakes when this priest’s name is mentioned. He has never gone after the priest in court for either retribution or money. Abuse by priests truly happened; it is reprehensible. Please never assume that “It’s all about the money.”

  • goral

    It’s about the money!

    While we know that real and actual abuse took place, it was never a situation where the victim’s hands and legs were tied in the basement of the church and they could not get away. The psychology of such abuse does chain the sinners as all sin does.

    One can not go through life without some trauma or abuse.
    As graymatter stated, the offers of actual help are refused in favor of the settlements.

    All of our fine, overworked and dedicated clergy have suffered tremendously without recourse. They truly have borne the Cross of Christ in this terrible scandal.

    Let the so called victims along with guilty clergy get their lives in order with God’s help.
    Our job as laity is now to protect the innocent priests from this fiasco.

  • Mary Kochan

    That’s one-sided Goral, becasue our job as laity is not just one thing:

    It is to protect innocent priests
    and innocent children.

    It is to comfort and aid priests who are victimized by false accusations, but it is also to comfort and aid real victims whose lives have been damaged. The damage is very real.

  • http://www.vatican.va Michael

    Goral:

    Your first, paragraph from your most recent post, could be read to mean that the victims were somehow culpable or complicit in the acts perpetrated against them. I hope that this isn’t what you mean. In addition, the fact that the voices of those who were the victims were silenced by a legal instrument (either civil or ecclesiastic) did further violence to those already traumatized and to their families.

    It’s not “about the money” for everyone, though it may well be for some. For some it is about justice, and sometimes justice includes punitive measures and in some cases that means money. However, I agree with the idea that we need to do more to make sure that our priests and dioceses have the ability to defend themselves against accusations – to keep them from becoming victims of the law, anti-clerical public sentiment, rapacious lawyering.

    In Christ,
    Michael

    • http://www.vatican.va Michael

      Sorry about the misplaced comma. The first sentence should read:

      Your first paragraph, from your most recent post,…

  • Ryan MacDonald

    Again, these comments are most interesting, and most further my points very well. I personally tried to avoid sweeping statements such as “it’s all about the money,” though I know that is accurate in many, or even perhaps most, of the claims alleging behaviors from decades ago. I too know people who have been victimized by sexual abuse, including abuse by priests. I know very well that the people who are most alarmed by false claims are the real victims of abuse. There is a point of clarification that I wish to make. Father MacRae has written that in the prison where he has spent the last 16 years, there are currently 1,700 convicted sex offenders and another 6,000 or so in that state’s parole system as registered sex offenders. Two individuals among these many thousands are Catholic priests. All the others are accused parents, grandparents, stepparents, foster parents, teachers (a significant number of them), scout leaders, ministers, and so on. Only the two priests faced accusations that were decades old. For all the others, virtually without exception, the length of time between abuse and the victim coming forward to report it was measured in weeks or months, not years, and certainly not decades. Only priests, and no one else, faced the tyranny of defending themselves against something claimed to have happened 30 or 40 or 50 years ago, and the claim itself, with no evidence or corroboration, is enough to end their career. Something is very wrong here.

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  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    One book to read about this topic is Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. I know the man was an atheist, but his book looks at the psychology of the folks in the Middle Ages who could gain access to wealth by leveling accusations of one sort of impropriety or other. He also spends time discussing the pseudo-science of recovered memories in modern psychology, particularly as they apply to sex abuse claims. And this is from from a man who had absolutely nothing to gain by defending the Church.

  • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

    I am very troubled and deeply concerned about many of the elements of Fr. Corapi’s situation. It is quite possible that the Church needs to better attend to due process, as due process serves justice, and the Church ought to guarantee justice to her accused priests insofar as it is possible in our fallen world.

    But reading Fr. Corapi’s statement and then checking out his new blog at theblacksheepdog.us gives me grave concerns. In a nutshell, it sounds to me like he has gone off the deep end. To quote one sentence from his blog, “this is a very exciting move for John and his fans, as for the first time, in a long time, John will be directly in touch with this fan-base by way of social networks.”

    Should a priest have a fan-base? Should he be “excited” about leaving the priesthood?

    What seems to me to be true, is that the sins of Fr. Corapi’s past life are coming back to haunt him. On his blog, he admits to past drug use, illicit sex, and other grave sins. Nobody doubts that God has forgiven him and helped him to get cleaned up, but sins have consequences that are not always visible and immediate. Past sins can leave a kind of spiritual wound that will not go away on its own; it needs to be healed, and the healing process can be messy. I think that may be what is happening here.

    A number of years ago I heard about the case of a young man who had applied to enter the Dominicans on the West Coast, and had been rejected because of past drug use. He had gotten straightened out, and I remember thinking how unfair his case sounded. After all, we all need to repent and be converted for many sins, and what better example could there be than a priest who had struggled and overcome his sins with God’s help?

    Now I think, maybe there is wisdom in what the Church did in that young man’s case. Maybe the Church should only be accepting men for ordination who have lived irreproachable lives. As Father Corapi himself says, “I have been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest.”

    We need to pray for Fr. Corapi as he embarks upon a very challenging and even dangerous time. May our Lord offer him his special protection, and our Lady offer her guidance and comfort.

    • florin

      PrairieHawk – I don’t want to comment much about this situation except that when I read your comment, I breathed a sign of spiritual relief…for I too feel there is something deeply disturbing about Fr. Corapi’s statements so I am praying for him and all involved.

  • Mary Kochan

    I don’t follow Corapi. I have never bought his productions. I saw him speak once many years ago because I was visiting someone who took me along to his talk. And I have heard one lecture series since about confession that was very good. That’s been at least 7 years ago. But I really just don’t get alll this stuff about him quitting the priesthood. He was suspended from ministry. He cannot wear clericals, he cannot publicly celebrate the sacraments, he is not allowed to ask people to call him “father.”

    But he is still a talented person with a media career — which already been very damaged by all the cancellations over the past months while he waited out this process. He has concluded with very good reason that this suspension will be for the rest of his life as it has been for many other priests in the same boat. So what does he do?

    Apparently a lot of people think he should slink off to a monastery somewhere and disappear from sight. Fine, if that is how you would handle a false accusation. (I will remind you that not a one of us has see a shred of evidence against him, “vibes” excluded.) But he is under no obligation to handle it that way if he is innocent. He has not to any of our knowledge rejected that he has an indelible mark on his soul. I would venture to say that if he came across a dying person he would administer last rites. I cannot forthe life of me fathom the comments that say he is “quitting” the priesthood. It would be like if you got fired from a job, for something you did not do and people were coming up to you in the street and yelling at you for “quitting.”

    I still won’t be following him, or buying his stuff. But doesn’t the man have a right to continue to live and make a living and for that matter carry on the business he has that probably supports several lay people with families to whom he feels a fiduciary obligation? This attitude that because he was accused he should now shrivel up and die or fade off into the sunset, I just don’t get.

    I wonder at the responses to the Black Sheep Dog thing. If it turns a lot of people off of course that is poor marketing. But I am puzzled by all the sinister interpretations. To me it seemed rather clever. It combines the image of a black sheep, which I think he has used for himself before, with that of a sheep dog. To me the message was: “I am one of the sheep. I’m not quite like the others (I mean how many sheep are priests, right?) but I’m still in the flock. I can’t be a shepherd (pastor, priest) anymore, but I still care about protecting the flock from wolves, so I’ll act as a sheep dog.”

    Some bloggers have made insinuating remarks about his comment:”My topics will be broader than in the past, and my audience likewise is apt to be broader.” How hard is that to understand? As a priest, he had a lot of restrictions on political topics, but now he is free to speak out about them in ways he could not before.

    • kmtierney

      Mary,

      I think in the end, people are worried because of the tone he gave. The tone was clearly that of being adversarial, his protesting to the contrary notwithstanding.

      I don’t think he should go away for the rest of his life. Yet leaving the priesthood, and looking to get back out into “the circut” is probably not the most prudent of ideas.

      In the end, even a layman isn’t entitled to make a living off of spreading the faith. We are subject to the Bishops to. I question if it is even possible for a just John Corapi to effectively engage in ministry in a public forum, at least in a speaking format.

      His EWTN ministry is gone, and probably permanently. It is going to be very hard for him to speak at actual Churches. On several topics, his ability to communicate as a public voice in regards to Catholicism (which anyone who writes, blogs, speaks, etc is, sanctioned by the Church or not) is compromised. That isn’t even counting the what I perceive to be a cult of personality (not neccessarily his fault) that exists around him. He has to take all of these things into account. I haven’t seen any indication in the public sphere he has. (I think this was ultimately a decision made in haste and out of weariness.)

      There are many ways he can make a living. For the good of all, I don’t think being a public voice of authentic Catholicism can be one of them, even with his considerable and substantial gifts.

      Which is why since he is still technically a priest (he has not been defrocked/laicized), he should take some time off, even up to a year or two from public life, spend time with his brother priests, pray, seek spiritual guidance, and weigh his options.

      • Mary Kochan

        Kevin, all he has said is that he won’t be publicly in priestly ministry any longer. He has not left he priesthood. My understanding is that he remains a member of the clergy, however, he cannot function as a priest in public.

        From what he said, assuming he is telling the truth, he has spent several months examining what is open to him under canon and civil law. He has found that he has little hope of clearing himself given the procedures in the Church, which is also borne out by the experience of many other priests. The decision he has made is not to leave the priesthood, but rather not to participate in any further in the process that he belives is unjust and violates his human and civil rights. The result of that decision is that his suspension becomes a lifetime sentence, if you will, and he accepts that outcome.

        At this point he is faced with the question of what to do with himself. You say that he has “many ways [to] make a living.” How do you know that? He is not young. Many talented men his age who have been “downsized” are in great struggles right now.

        How do you know he hasn’t been praying and weighing his options? From what he says he has been seeking a lot of counsel.

        As for his announcement and video: I think the fact that it has caused so much distress and possibly misunderstanding shows it wasn’t the best way to go about it. If I were advising him in a PR capacity, this is not what I would have suggested. But it could be clumsy, tone-deaf and ill-advised, without being disobedient. And I agree he will have trouble being a voice for Catholicism, at least for some time. It looks like that might not really be what he has in mind, but that he intends to take his massage more generally to the country and to a wider Christian audience. If so, he may do some good. I hope so.

        There are some people accusing him already of being a schismatic and a cult leader. I hope not!

        • kmtierney

          He obviously isn’t a schismatic. In the realm of possibility, it could go to that. Yet I have a greater chance of becoming relevant (hint, I probably never will be lol) than the possibility that there will be a “Corapian” Church.

          Also, the issue isn’t really that of disobedience. There’s no evidence he has officially refused to comply with a direct command. The only evidence is that compared to say St. Pio, he took a far different route. That is a cause for concern.

          In his own mind, he was “for twenty years called Father.” He signs his letter “once called father” John Corapi.

          Unless a priest becomes defrocked or laicized, he is still a priest. Padre Pio was under inderdict, yet he remained a priest, and could even say Mass privately. With the emphasis on “former” he seems to be applying to be laicized, or expects that to soon be coming.

          He seems to imply that if things simply went on as they would, he would be suspended forever. He can’t know that, but such is his perception. To prevent being suspended forever, he is charting his new course. That once again strongly sounds like he no longer sees himself as a Catholic priest.

          Either way, I can’t see him speaking publicly for long until he runs afoul of those same people he claims have stripped him of his basic rights. If they were to tell him he cannot speak in public on anything related to Catholicism, how would he react? Given this video, I think it’s a question open to debate, which is troubling in and of itself. I really don’t see how he can appeal to a “wider Christian audience” without eventually touching upon Catholicism.

          Some good may come out of it, but it’s going to be a pretty hard situation for the foreseeable future.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    I don’t much follow John Corapi, either, but it is indeed quite puritanical to suggest that a man who still has to eat and sleep and live ought to slink off into the darkness somewhere. Shall we stitch a bright-red letter A onto all of his shirts as well?

    The man’s great natural talent is speaking and writing and presenting. Why should he give up on those talents just because of an accusation? It would be like asking a computer programmer who gets laid off* to refrain from ever programming computers again. It is quite necessary to answer the question, “what else is he to do?” if a person suggests he ought to refrain from using his talents to support himself and those who have worked with him. Do we expect him to go on welfare when he is still able to support himself? Do we really mean that those who have worked with him ought similarly to condemn themselves to poverty just because we say so? If so, what can we possibly have to say about the Church’s concern for the poor?

    To deprive a man of his right to use his talents in pursuit of his livelihood is a direct and mean-spirited violation of the Natural Law. It cannot be countenanced under any circumstances whatsoever.

    The correct answer would be to follow what Corapi does from here on out and to refute it if necessary. Another approach — most effective against media types — would be to simply ignore him. But to suggest he should set aside his talents for — what? That is mean. Most uncharitable.

    * And a lay-off is the proper comparison here. Innocence until guilt is proven is supposed to be the juridical norm in the United States. Moreover, the canonical norm is supposed to be an allowance that the accused might be judged in the most favorable light possible. Evidence is supposed to establish guilt, not mere accusation. Thus also suffers the person who is laid off, an avenue often used by companies to get rid of people whom they simply do not like.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    One ought further to allow for the possibility that John Corapi is simply pursuing the necessary funds that will allow him to mount a credible defense. If so, shall we deny him this as well?

  • Janet B

    And here is a story of a beloved 77 yr old priest, falsely accused and exonerated, who fell into a deep depression over it, who died last week, they say, of a broken heart:

    http://www.themediareport.com/jun2011/mitchell-garabedian-brian-mcgrory.htm

    May God turn this to good. May it be an impetus for change, for a process that protects a priest’s dignity and rights.

  • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

    I have read Padre Pio’s biographies (there is more than one) and I can see that this is a systemic problem. “Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” said Someone wiser than all of us. I have listened extensively to Fr. Corapi and I never-ever heard him say anything remotely unorthodox. He started experiencing rejection from the beginning. That is the lot of saints and a sure sign of a charism that the Lord bestows only on those closest to His heart. Everything that is touched by the Cross becomes fruitful and more so when Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, gives to one of His own some of the selected splinters of His Cross.

    This August 15 will be the 10th anniversary of being received in the Church. In these ten years I have learned a lot about the kind of people that God has called to his Church. I learned of that most curious creature: the cradle catholic that goes about believing in the most heinous heresies but is prompt to correct the orthodox fresh convert with the words “I’ve been in the Catholic Church all my life.” They are all around us, yet they work against anything that can help the advancement of the Gospel in the Church. Father Corapi’s powerful voice thunders like St. Paul’s “of all sinners I am the foremost.” Do you want to exile Paul’s letters also? I don’t think so. Father Corapi is experiencing the wrath of the Sanhedrin. What an honor! What a medal he will have to show in Heaven if he stays loyal to Christ until the end. Purging past sins, you bet. We all must do that and there is no way around it. I heard that from Fr. Corapi many times:” No pain, no gain. No Cross, no crown.”

    My prayers are with him and mostly with those misguided shepherds who have left the flock and now attack the few that still take care of the sheep. Millstone neckties are being hewn as we speak. Who shall wear them? Tremble those who love their sin more than justice, and darkness more than the light of Christ.

    • Lynnevive

      Hi Carlos,
      I am a 3 year Catholic Convert, and listen to Father Corapi a lot. I still have much to learn. And you are so right about many cradle Catholics, thank goodness my husband is not one of them, he is a cradle Catholic but is also still learning and willing to learn.
      About 18 months after I entered the Church I was saying “I need campmeeting!” Something really big in my protestant upbringing. Within 2 weeks we won tickets to see Father Corapi at an all day seminar at the HSBC Center, a really huge place. And it was packed. Our Bishop and so many of our Priests were there and there was 4 talks with breaks between. It was better than campmeeting! Inside, air conditioned, we loved it!
      We are praying for Father Corapi. Going through a bad time, having a bad time, does not mean one is bad. It means we are human.
      You put into words many things I’ve been thinking about this situation and I’m glad you did.

  • Ryan MacDonald

    I want to thank Catholic Lane readers for these thoughtful comments. Whether I agree with them all or not, readers of my article have certainly put some thought into it. I think there is a lot more to the Fr. Corapi case than meets the eye. I am personally disappointed with his decision to opt out of ministry, though I understand his exasperation. It should be made clear that he cannot simply “quit” the priesthood. In Catholic tradition, Holy Orders is not simply a job for which someone can be hired, laid off, or fired. I am aware that Fr. Gordon MacRae who has faced the process of defending himself against many obstacles has written again of the Fr. Corapi case. I expect it to be published at his blog, http://www.TheseStoneWalls.com sometime in the next week. I have read a draft of his planned post, and I think he makes a case that will help answer many questions about what Fr. Corapi faced. We have a long way to go in our Church to bring justice to this entire picture. Most of all I thank Catholic Lane readers for their fidelity during hard times.

    • Mary Kochan

      Ryan, in what way do you see him as opting out?

      I read: ” I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer… I cannot give a lengt…hy explanation of what has transpired, but I can tell you that the most likely outcome is that they leave me suspended indefinitely and just let me fade away…. I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it.”

      That doesn’t look to me like something he chose.

      • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

        It seems to me that the matter was easy to settle. Like any spouse the Church has the right to know the details of an alleged infidelity. When, where, and how did the incident(s) happen? Any indications, witnesses, hunches, writing on the wall?

        Yes or No as the Lord says. Because of Fr. Corapi’s popularity the Church has the obligation to act with some speed to protect the simple who can be scandalized for nothing. But we know how things are. How many years was Padre Pio waiting in the dark while his accusers lingered?

        Fr. Corapi may be guilty as Hades but the faithful deserve to have this cleared for their good and the good of the whole Church.

        Justice delayed = justice denied.

        In Matthew 5.25–26, Jesus says, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matt. 5.25–26).

        Did you say “quickly” my Lord?

      • kmtierney

        It was a choice. He doesn’t know if he would be suspended indefinetly or not. May have been a hard choice, but it was a choice, just as St. Pio made a choice when he faced his suspension with resignation that “the will of the authorities is the will of God.”

        Unless he was formally defrocked (or worse excommunicated), then he made a choice. One can sympathize with that choice. They can agree or disagree. Yet it was still a choice made.

        • florin

          kmtierney – your response is so wise and charitable…we are all called to submit to legitimate authority in the Church, no matter how difficult. We can look at the long list of martyrs who submitted to unspeakable suffering with humility and charity and love – I do not recall any martyr who went on the defensive…so we will pray for Fr. Corapi that he will find peace…I think your suggestion that he take time off from his business corporation to spend more time with his brother priests and perhaps also with his community is a good one…surely he would find comfort and solace among them and would perhaps find help and discernment regarding his priestly vocation…

          • kmtierney

            In the end, he has a right to defend himself. Just as Mary said, this was hardly the best way of going about doing so.

            I just really have a concern with some of his defenders. (Not saying Mary is one, I for one find her comments, even if I don’t fully agree with them, reasonable.) They are turning it into Fr. Corapi, the ubermensch, versus the faceless, nameless, “they.” These nameless Bishops are looking to destroy his work for this or that reason. And then in the same breath they complain Fr. Corapi is being slandered by an anonymous witness! A quote here suggests that there were Bishops being greedy looking to get their hands on Fr. Corapi’s money, and that this was a way they went about it.

            Could it be true? History certainly has shown it to not be impossible. Yet you have no evidence. You (his defenders) want Fr. Corapi to be presumed innocent since there is no public evidence available. Yet they are doing the same thing in going after the Bishops, lay faithful who question how this is playing out, etc.

            This is nothing more than a cult of personality some have with him. I think Fr. Corapi, if he is truly a sheepdog, should keep that in mind as well.

    • HomeschoolNfpDad

      I should clarify my lay-off comparison. It was intended to compare the talents required for Father Corapi’s media ministry with those technical talents required to successfully engage the job of programming computers. In both cases, an avocation is helpful, maybe even necessary. Father Corapi’s specific talents helped him as a priest, but even without use of these talents, he could have been a good priest. This compares properly to our hypothetical computer programmer — let’s give him a vocation, too, namely that of husband and father. In the latter case, the avocation of computer programmer can be a very effective means of helping one to fulfill his vocation as husband and father. But even if the computer programmer is forced into work that is contrary to his main talents, he can still be a good husband and father. It remains wrong to force someone away from the proper use of his talents.

      I realize now that this argument begins to stack up against me: the right thing would have been for Father Corapi to continue the pursuit of his vocation using whatever lawful means were left to him. I therefore lament his decision to leave the ministerial priesthood also.

      I think the rest of the argument still holds, however.

    • jflare29

      BTW, according to the former bishop of Corpus Christi, John Corapi has NOT ceased being a priest. He HAS ceased functioning in public in a priest’s capacity, but I have not heard anything regarding an intent to laicize him.
      That’s an important distinction.

      I think this situation will lead to a great deal more in-depth review, or at least I hope it will, regarding how religious orders and others handle various matters.

      I have a sneaking suspicion, partly based on the former bishop’s comments, that Corapi may be altering his strategy in no small part to help bring light to a serious abuse of justice that has begun to plague the Church.
      That makes sense to me, because I have a very tough time reconciling the man with a message that most of us needed to hear with the man who’s lead a scandalous life.

      I grant it can happen on occasion, but John Corapi’s statements and actions never hinted at a sinful life. They hinted at someone who knew a lot more about life and faith than most of us wanted to know, therefore he’d be likely to deal with serious problems in unorthodox fashion. Sometimes the most apparent “right way” won’t lead to the full answers we need.

  • Pingback: The Corapi Investigation: What it is… (UPDATES) | The Anchoress

  • florin

    Amazing to me that Mary Kochan says she hasn’t followed Fr. Corapi yet she comes out against anyone who does not agree with what he is doing or how he is doing it…by the way, no one said Fr. Corapi should go to a Monastery to reflect…but listening to him speak, and promoting his book and claiming he will now have a world wide ministry…and very coy about he saying he does not want to cause problems for the Church while causing problems – and making lots of money in the process…you know..let’s just wait and see what happens now…and by the way…I do think his new website is creepy!!!

    • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

      Oh my goodness! God forbid anyone makes any money and expands a ministry that is doing good! I forgot we are all Marxists now!

      Could it be that perhaps someone was tempted by Fr. Corapi’s success and wanted a piece of the action via settlement? Someone with a bit too much of a greedy capitalist eye?

      Fr. Corapi had a very intense life (Vietnam included.) For the last 20 years he has been in the public eye and as far as I know his personal conduct was never called into question.

      Many thought of him as too spectacular a preacher, a blowhard, etc. If being intense is a sin then I guess we should all follow Buddha because on occasions Jesus strikes me as very far from a calm and collected preacher. I’m not lying to you. Read the Gospels.

      I think Mary who is a former Jehovah’s Witness (I grew up in the JW’s myself) can see the similarities between the “trials” of that cult and what is going on here. I see them and I find them disturbing.

      I cannot imagine why things cannot be done calmly, transparently, and quickly. Forgive me if I am a little thick. This is not as complex as O.J. Simpson’s trial by any stretch of the imagination. If the man is guilty then go ahead and do what you have to do!

      I bet there is a good deal of envy going on here. May be Corapi was too successful for his own good. All the adverse comments I see in the web are directed against his style. Of his grasp of the Gospel truth, insights, charisma, of the many conversions (I am one who was convinced of the goodness of the Church by his preaching)…of all those positive things NO ONE SPEAKS.

      So now we have another commandment: “thou shall not be bizarre or too intense.”

      Yeah! Keep it cool John the Baptist or we’ll cut your head off!

  • goral

    Father Corapi’s message always had teeth in it.
    This bothers the devil and apparently bothers many in the Church. The devil does have his avatars in high places, including the Church. Let’s see what other information gets out in the near future. It’s obvious that this is another example of hierarchical mismanagement, at the very least.

    • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

      Goral:

      I agree with you. We have to see what other information gets out in the near future. For starts I would advice Fr. Corapi to change the looks of his new website. There are some things there that don’t look right.

      This sad event reminded me of the weak state we are in since the time of the scandals, the Marcial Maciel affair, the strange demise of Fr. Eutenhauer, etc. etc. Come Holy Spirit and renew our Church.

      I pray to God that Fr. Corapi does not turn out to be a wolf just like Maciel was. It would be devastating for so many.

      One thing I know is that we have a Church and we are neglecting it. First, I fail to pray more, to sacrifice, to concentrate in God’s mercy and kindness. I am sure I’m not the only one. Priests are being attacked spiritually and also in the flesh. This is a terrifying time to be serving God. We should pray more and more. There is no better protection than prayer to the true God.

      I pray that these accusations against Fr. Corapi are unfounded and I also pray that the intentions of the Church authorities handling the matter are just and pure.

      May God hear our prayers.

      • florin

        You are so right Carlos – we need to pray, especially for our priests. So many serve alone in Parishes, so many bore the shame of the sex scandal and it hurt them but they stayed and did not run away. As you said, it’s a very difficult time to serve God and His Church. The situation with Maciel was particularly devastating..he had so many followers/fans even after the truth came out…no one wanted to believe it. So we have to pray because prayer can go everywhere…where I live, Priests have formed a kind of group where they all get together once a month and have dinner together, pray and talk things over like brothers…they share and they support and they challenge…no Priest can go it alone…none of us can…so we pray.

  • Mary Kochan

    florin, are you calling me a liar?

    Also, where have I come out “against anyone who does not agree with what he is doing or how he is doing it”? I have not even given my personal opinion about what he is doing and how he is doing it.

    • florin

      Get a grip Mary! Stop being so defensive – no one is calling you a liar. I’ve gone to other ‘Catholic’ websites to check this situation out..National Catholic Register and New Advent.org and others…although the commentators may have been aggressive and divisive at times, the moderators of the blogs have kept a clear focus and have tried to heal the divisions…to bring clarity. No one knows the truth of what happened…National Catholic Register even closed down the commenting for a time to give everyone a chance to cool off and to wait for more information…it’s kind of useless to keep commenting on something we know so little about…we can say what we ‘feel’ in response to Fr. Corapi’s statements and new website but I guess no one can really judge his motives…i still wish with all my heart that he would go home to his SOLT community for a while to be with his brothers, to have time to just be – anyway, I’m praying for him as are many others…

  • goral

    Carlos, I’ve been in the dark about Fr. Eutenheuer.
    What happened to him?

  • florin

    Monday, June 20th…a new, clear and balanced update on the situation with Fr. Corapi is at the National Catholic Register website…well worth reading.

  • kmtierney

    Looks like the past day has given us additional light on the issue:

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/father-corapis-bombshell/#ixzz1PmNrdCv0

    The rundown:

    Fr. Corapi paid his accuser (who he claims in his youtube statement he did not know for sure who it was) to sign an NDA, as well as several other “witnesses” forbidding them from disclosing their activities during their employment with Santa Cruz. Further, he is also suing his accuser for an alleged breach of contract. (If indeed she was the one who broke this to the Bishops.)

    According to his superior (and it makes sense) this action (the NDA and the lawsuit against his accuser) seriously compromised the investigation, and really made it hard to conduct an impartial investigation where everyone’s rights are protected.

    He was given the offer to return to his religious community, but declined. Such a move would have meant giving up the majority of his wealth and possessions, and (I’m guessing on this part) an inability to engage in public ministry.

    Finally, he is indeed seeking to leave the priesthood. He sent a letter to his superiors “resigning” from the religious life and the priesthood. His superior has written him to confirm this is what he wants. Provided he acknowledges that, SOLT will begin the process to remove him as a priest.

    There is indeed a problem with protecting accused priests. Yet none of those problems seem to apply to this case.

    • Mary Kochan

      I have to say in light of the further news today that Corapi’s communications have not been completely honest. He has attempted to give an impression of being forced out of the priesthood, when that is not really the case. He has attempted to lay blame on others for decisions of his own. If he hasn’t outright lied, he has certainly tried to spin things, or as Mark Shea said, been manipulative. Too bad.

    • jflare29

      “Fr Corapi paid his accuser…to sing an NDA….”
      Whoa!
      That’s quite charge I’d say. This implies that the NDA came about as a means to keep an employee from revealing anything about possible misconduct. No one has any credible evidence to back that claim.

      NDA’s aren’t inherently tools that an offender may use to silence a witness. NDA’s ARE a means for a corporation to protect trade secrets. It makes perfect sense to me that Corapi would’ve required an employee to sign one of these as a part of her job; he stands/stood to lose a great deal if she “sold” his materials to someone else.

      This article smacks of NCRs usual inability to honestly present ALL the relevant facts.

      By the way, I notice the article mentions how investigative personnel ran into a snag due to Corapi’s civil lawsuit against his accuser. Frankly, I’m shocked that no civil law enforcement authorities seem to be involved. Allegations related to sex abuse OR drug abuse certainly fall under civil, not episcopal, jurisdiction.

      If they believe he might’ve done something immoral or illegal, why are they not pursuing the channels appropriate to the alleged crimes?

      No wonder he’s leaving active ministry!
      Even with what little information I have regarding the situation, I see all manner of serious errors being committed by various religious authorities!

      • kmtierney

        Jflare,

        It is indeed quite a charge. yet it is a direct quote from Fr. Corapi’s superior. if the evidence is not true, then feel free to point out it isn’t, with a direct quote preferably from Fr. Corapi denying the existence of such an NDA.

        ““When she left the company, she signed a contract that she would not reveal anything that happened to her while she was at Santa Cruz Media. Father Corapi paid her for this. Father was suing her for a breach of contract,”

        That is from his religious superior. As far as “trade secrets”, Fr. Corapi’s DVD’s are NOT trade secrets. If an employee took merchandise upon quitting, the issue isn’t an NDA. The issue is theft.

        NDA’s come about due to priveleged or confidential information in honest cases. You may sign one if you go to work for a competitor. There’s no evidence of that here.

        The less honest ones are issued to silence someone from revealing any potentially damaging information. Normally in that case, someone is paid. Of course it isn’t said like that, but that is what happens. Out of court settlements frequently have NDA’s that prevent the person from further cashing in. It isn’t neccessarily an admission of guilt. Yet I wonder what a priest who wasn’t a personal multi-millionaire would have done in a similar situation.

        As far as notifying civil authorities, we don’t know if they have or haven’t. Once again, that is something you normally don’t hear about, especially if the investigation is ongoing. Yet the issue is primarily one of an ecclesial nature. Nobody is saying Fr. Corapi sexually abused anyone. The allegation was of an improper sexual relationship and drug use.

        Both of these carry serious canonical penalties. Information may have been passed onto civil authorities, and they chose not to pursue the matter. Often, individual drug users do not feel the full wrath of the penal system. Yet in the end, we aren’t concerned with civil cases. We are concerned with matters from a Church perspective.

        • kmtierney

          Also wish to add, it is quite obvious how a civil investigation complicates a canonical one. It can be tough logistically to have both going side by side. The rules of civil courts are different than ecclesial courts, with different standards of evidence. This could compromise everything from evidence to witnesses. Why they normally are conducted one after the other, not side by side.

          This is all pretty basic stuff here.

        • jflare29

          I never said he never required an NDA, it’s obvious he did. I DO seriously contest your overall assessment.

          First, you comment or insinuate that dishonest NDA’s come about to protect potentially dishonest parties. I agree that could happen. I do not agree that we have any worthwhile evidence to suggest that this happened in this case. We know nothing about what the NDA required, so we know nothing about WHY he required it.
          Also, I think his materials ARE trade secrets in a manner of speaking. Formats, audio, video, and other aspects of his DVDs and other materials could well be subject to unauthorized use, misrepresentation, or other abuse of materials, especially if an employee has decided to leave because of some possible personal grievance. In that sense, an NDA would make a great deal of sense.
          Your assertion seems to me to reek of suspicion of motive, for what cause I don’t pretend to know.

          Then too, for what it’s worth, I’m not aware of any mandate that an NDA only come about if a former employee intends to work for a competitor. As I recall, I had to sign something similar to an NDA when I left the military. I’d had access to classified materials for some time and the military had ample cause to want to protect information, even if I had no interest in working for someone who had little or no relationship with national defense.

          Nor do I find your argument related to civil authorities terribly credible. It may be that inappropriate relationships aren’t offenses that a court of law would prosecute, though I think that’s somewhat debatable as well, but illicit drug use DEFINITELY qualifies as a civil matter.
          We have a DEA for a reason, you know.

          Seems to me that if civil authorities DID get involved, but didn’t choose to pursue it, it’s quite likely they did not precisely because they couldn’t find any evidence to back a credible claim of wrongdoing. Perhaps civil authorities don’t care much about canon law’s view of a priest’s obligations, but I should think they WOULD be VERY interested if they saw even a HINT of a chance of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.
          Declaring this to be purely an ecclesial matter simply doesn’t add up.

          I also saw notice about how the Church doesn’t want the witnesses to feel any pressure. I’d say that’s a relatively strange perspective to take, since the allegations arose from the former employee, not from an outside source.

          Seems to me that it’s pretty basic to assume that if a former employee would be willing to accuse him, she surely should be mutually accountable. If she’s not willing to take the possible strain of a lawsuit and/or cross-examination, seems to me the ecclesial authorities ought to be willing to withdraw the suspension or act in another appropriate manner to allow him to get on with life.

          This way, it appears as though he’s already been tried and convicted, even though there’s a distinct lack of credible evidence against him.

          • kmtierney

            I base my contention something improper occured over the fact that the accuser was compensated financially as a result of the NDA. That makes it a big difference. The military didn’t pay you to keep quiet about classified material. (or did they? Ultimate Catch 22 lol!)

            In response to Carlos, the NDA happened after the employee left Santa Cruz Media. These things had already taken place when the allegations were made.

            So let’s hear the answer to that question. What purpose was the accuser paid for (the accuser Fr. Corapi said he had no clue who it was) to sign an NDA, if there was nothing improper about the NDA?

            I find it troubling the double standard Mr. Rosendi and others have. On the one hand, Fr. Corapi is part of an anonymous smear campaign of people who make judgements before knowing the facts.

            Now Mr. Rosendi uses statements such as “sue the liar” and the like. If she was lying, Fr. Corapi would sue her for liberal/defamation of character. He isn’t. He is suing her for “breach of contract.” It would appear the truth of her allegations are conceded.

            Jflare may find the distinction between civil and canonical cases “not credible”, but I’m simply describing the basics of it as it exists. If you want a more technical answer, consult a canonist. In order to protect the integrity of both civilian and canonical proceedings, they do their best to keep them seperate. If Fr. Corapi wanted an expedetious resolution to his canonical trial, he should have just dropped or delayed the civil suit. That simple.

    • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

      NDA’s are commonly signed by everyone employed by media companies these days. I have signed a pile of them over the years and I assure you I never had any romantic involvement with any of my bosses! HA!

      In this case spinning a common and perfectly normal business procedure as if it was a sort of admission of guilt is not fair. Now, if the NDA was signed AFTER the alleged incident took place then it becomes part of a cover-up. But until someone shows the text and the date of such document… it all amounts to nothing.

      Corapi may have gotten angry at the Bishop for not dismissing an obvious lie quickly and effectively. When he learned that he cannot pursue legal action against his accuser while still a priest… then he decided to quit the priesthood and sue the liar in civil court.

      If that is what happened it will teach many would-be accusers that the Church is not an ATM for injury lawyers, like for example our hospitals and MD’s have become.

      If the accusation was false then the accuser COUNTED on the fact that the Church has been paying to anyone with any kind of accusation, and has been settling things out of court whether the accusations are credible or not.

      If Corapi drags bishop and accuser to court he is very likely to win and set a terrific precedent. I am all for obedience to the Bishops but the problem here has been the spineless individuals that tolerated and protected the perverts first and now they pay to anyone to avoid litigation. Grow a spine!

      Now Corapi may be braggadocio, odd guy, a blowhard, etc. But he is definitely not spineless. We may be looking at a David and Goliath fight here.

      • jflare29

        I agree, Carlos. Too much of the commentary I’ve seen against (Father/Mr.) Corapi strikes me as innuendo and suspicion. I’ve seen entirely too much creedence being given to entirely too little information.

      • kmtierney

        Except she wasn’t suing anybody.

        Fr. Corapi sued her. This suit doesn’t involve the Bishops or SOLT, just John Corapi v the accused.

        As far as not being able to “settle action against her as a priest” whatever happened to the Biblical injunction about Christians first seeking to resolve things outside of the court process? Did Padre Pio take his accusers to civil court?

        There’s no evidence that she was seeking monetary damages from the Church on this, or anything beyond the NDA. This is just rank speculation and character assasination. Yet you accuse everyone else of doing the same?

        • florin

          kmtierney-I was praying about this during Mass and I remembered what Mother Angelica did when she had a situation with the Bishops…she went to Rome! and she went more than once and her position was upheld. Why doesn’t Fr. Corapi go to Rome? Cardinal Burke is an honest and fair man and he is head of the Apostolic Signatura – and I believe this situation would be handled with discretion and wisdom…why just walk away from the battle? It’s important to stay in the process no matter how fair or unfair it is…not everything is fair in this world. Meanwhile, we keep praying that all involved will be open to the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

        • jflare29

          You can demonstrate that he required her to sign the NDA after she left Santa Cruz Media. I have yet to see appropriate evidence to declare that he paid her for the NDA at the time that she signed it, nor that he required it of her as a means to protect his reputation unduly. The statements regarding the NDA aren’t that specific.

          You speak of double standards, yet you don’t seem to me to require knowing all the facts for certain before you insist that we convict him. None of us truthfully knows what happened.

          • kmtierney

            I’m going off the official on the record statements of his religious superior, the man Fr. Corapi is required to give his obedience to, or at least was until today when he was formally suspended from the SOLT.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    It is indeed a sad case.

  • Henro

    Whatever happened to leaving it in God’s hands. Don’t you think that God can do all things and repare the damage to those falsely accused? There are many saints that this has happened to, St. Gerard Maiella is a perfect example. He was falsely accused of having relations with a woman and bearing a child, but he remained silent and left it to God. He was ultimately vindicated, and is now a cannonized saint and is the patron saint of expectant mothers. God can take the bad, and make it good. But we have to leave our trust in His hands. I feel for Father Corapi, but I think he is making a terrible mistake in playing the victim. This man literally had an opportunity to be called to sainthood, and he is letting it slip through his fingers. Like all of us, he needs our prayers.

  • Henro

    I forgot to add in my previous post that my comments are based on the supposition that Fr. Corapi is innocent. Of course, if he is not, then that’s a different story. However, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he is innocent, until proven guilty.

  • http://lesfemmes-thetruth.blogspot.com mary ann kreitzer

    Thanks for the great article! I was a little surprised by the negative comments about Fr. Corapi shutting himself up in a monastery. That’s exactly what St. Jean Vianney kept trying to do, but his parishioners kept bringing him back.

    St. Thomas More tried to retire to a life of quiet study and prayer after resigning as Chancellor of England. He had a monk’s heart from the beginning and he considered his final months in the Tower of London a blessing.

    Will Father Corapi, now John Corapi, achieve more by continuing his “camp meetings” or was this tragedy an opportunity to choose the better part? Frankly, I’m conflicted because I know priests who have suffered through the injustice of the bishops’ system.

    But it is heartbreaking when any priest leaves the priesthood vuluntarily no matter how unjustly he’s treated. And it’s obvious we are not talking about him starving since, as NCR pointed out, his superiors welcomed his return to community life.

    The entire situation is sad. The best we can do is handle it with prayer.

  • Mary Kochan

    This article has just been updated with the latest message from the SOLT.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this awesome article!!!!!!!!!
    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness”. I TRULY DON’T THINK THAT THE HOLY SEE WOULD SAY THAT HOLINESS IS BEING OBEDIENT TO GRAVE ABUSES, because the Church protects the innocent because the Church is Jesus. The Holy Father said that the persecution is coming from within the Church and it is a “horror”, when he was falsely accused in the recent child sex abuse scandals. Father Corapi is innocent until proven guilty. The Pope was BETRAYED BY PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH TOO, and they tried to remove him, but he was innocent until proven guilty. Why is Father Corapi being treated guilty by suspending him etc…? The proof is here that these priests never got a fair trial, some of these priest are dead and gone and there case is still sitting there. The Pope wasn’t suspended, Silenced, isolated from his duties, taken off the EWTN etc………..???? So what is really going on here? Is this Father Corapi’s only way to continue to serve GOD AND THE CHURCH FIRST WHICH IS HIS FIRST DUTY AS ANY GOOD SHEPHERD? We ARE NOT TO BE OBEDEINT TO GRAVE ABUSES AND SCANDAL THAT IS NOT HOLINESS. That is partaking in SIN AND OF THE DEVIL. Father Corapi will not lay down and die, because he is Hero and we need men who don’t give up the GOOD FIGHT!!! Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you FALSELY on my account. REJOICE and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

    God knows that Father Corapi is a priest Forever….First….Father Corapi is obeying His priestly duty to God…the only way he can

    Well Something is not matching up here—-the Pope was never treated this way
    God love you
    Lisa

  • florin

    Lisa, I’m sure you mean well but a priest is not obedient to himself but, if he is an Order Priest, he owes obedience to his superior; if he is a diocesan priest, then he owes obedience to his Bishop. A Priest is not a Priest in isolation – he is also under obedience to the Bishop of Rome, the Holy Father. If Fr. Corapi feels he is being wronged or misunderstood or oppressed, he can appeal to Rome.

  • Lisa

    http://theblacksheepdog.wordpress.com/author/theblacksheepdog/

    Tuesday June 21st FATHER CORAPI
    Many have asked, or criticized, me concerning the reason I filed a civil defamation suit against the accuser in this case. It is because the two men I respect most in the Catholic Church advised me to do so. Fr. James Flanagan, Founder and most respected member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and Bishop Rene Gracida, the former Bishop of Corpus Christi, had a meeting on this matter. The result was that they advised me strongly to file a civil defamation suit. Why would they do this? Because they felt it was the only way I could receive a fair and just hearing. This advice was conveyed to me through Fr. Tony Anderson of the Society of Our Lady.

    Concerning money, most people know me through radio and television. My broadcasts for 17 years on both radio and television were absolutely free to the public. I was never paid for them by EWTN or any radio station, nor did EWTN or any radio station ever charge anyone to view them. The past several years I never charged a fee to speak at events either. Furthermore, I have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Catholic organizations, and directed millions more from benefactors that wanted to give it to me. I did not accept charitable contributions, although I could have received millions.

    The Bishop’s star witness against me is a severely troubled person that I tried to help for years. I provided the Church with evidence as to this accuser’s credibility very early on. There are two hours of audio telephone messages that clearly demonstrate this person’s serious lack of credibility. We shall consider posting some of these audio clips in the future. You can decide if this person sounds sober and/or sane.
    God Bless You all
    Lisa

    • kmtierney

      And that is what we call in traditional moral theology the sin of detraction. It is also akin to sliming a rape accuser that “she wanted it, look at all the people she’s slept with!”

      If you look at Fr. Corapi’s site, most of his “fans” recognize this is a really really bad idea what he is threatening to do. There’s allegations of character defamation on her part. If he goes through with this, it WILL be character defamation.

      How does this match with the charity Christ counsels?

      • jflare29

        I would suggest that you practice your own preaching. Based on essentially circumstantial evidence, you’ve pretty well tried and convicted (formerly Father) Corapi without a serious trial. You’ve also practically proclaimed that he’s guilty of character defamation.
        I don’t believe that conforms to Christ’s counsel to charity either.

        If the courts discern that (formerly Father) Corapi’s accuser committed no error, they’ll most likely hold him accountable to the defamation. Or she can. If, however, the courts discern that she HAS, indeed, acted falsely, he has every right to seek justice by the courts.

        May I comment that this sort of situation provides exactly the reason for why we have laws regarding these matters?
        Eventually, the truth will come to the front and any guilty parties will be exposed.
        I suggest you allow the process to work before you hammer him to the wall.

      • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

        Ow, ow, ow! Since when defending oneself from the actual attacks of others constitutes detraction. Allow me to remind you (and I hope you are not a priest because you should know) that detraction is the gratuitous exposure of someone’s faults. Now if I am accused of cooking the books by a fraudulent accountant who is my Catholic brother, I am not supposed to expose his fraudulent ways? Something in your theology needs a little dusting, sir.

  • Lisa

    Florin and everyone else on this site might want to check out who Father Corapi is suppose to be obedeint to

    http://abyssum.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/a-few-thoughts-on-father-corapis-announcement-yesterday/

    Words from the former Bishop of Corpus Christi Diocese:
    “What many of these hostile commentators seem to be unaware of is the fact that Father John Corapi does not belong to a religious order or congregation. He belongs to a Society of Apostolic Life. He is not a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, he is incardinated in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, a diocesan Society of Apostolic life that I established in the Diocese of Corpus Christi when I was the Ordinary of the Diocese. He has never held an assignment in the Diocese nor has he ever worked in the Diocese. Following his ordination in Rome in 1991 by Blessed Pope John Paul II he has ministered in many places, but not in the Diocese of Corpus Christi. With the permission of his superiors he established his media company in Montana and has lived there ever since. As a member of that Society (The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) Father John is not bound by a vow of poverty. He is bound by a promise of obedience to his superior, the General Priest Servant of the Society.”

    • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

      Please remember that Judas was a Bishop

      Then remember that we owe ultimate obedience to God as per our well formed Catholic conscience. The Catholic Church is not the Third Reich.

      I have been in the position of being asked for my assent to a heretical doctrine preached by a priest I met. I knew beyond any doubt that it was heresy. I did not obey his command which would have aided in the dispersion of said heresy. I don’t think God believes I am disobedient because of that.

      I do not know if Fr. Corapi is guilty of something or not. Neither do you. But I know that in 1998 when I wanted to be catechized and enter the Church NOT ONE PRIEST of the many I went to explained to me how was the process and how to move towards that goal.

      There was one priest that was too far and way too busy to help me and yet he helped me with books and on the phone. But I lived 500 miles from his parish so instruction there was impossible.

      How did I get catechized? I listened carefully to Fr. Corapi’s excellent series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I went through that series at least twice.

      So I can honestly say that Fr. Corapi catechized me. In August 2001 I was received in the Church, a Thomist I was not but it was clear enough for one Archbishop that I could be baptized and confirmed in the same day. That I owe to EWTN and Fr. Corapi.

      I don’t forget those who do good to me. So in all fairness I fail to see how the good tree can give bad fruit all of a sudden.

      I suggest we all wait and pray for all those involved in this tragedy, especially for the person that hurled that accusation in what appears to be a case of true detraction if not pure defamation.

      And let me add this: I have heard many homilies and talks in this 10 or 15 years and personally I am tired of hearing those bland, hard to understand, sterile discourses that can put a horse to sleep. I don’t go to church to be entertained but I expect to learn something. Spiritu Sancto supplet but I would like to advise to the priests reading these comments that Fr. Corapi moved people to action with his good words.

      If there was a cult of personality I do not think it was his fault. If he colored his beard so what? Do you want to find out how many monsignors wear a toupé?

      Pagola, Nolan, Arregui, and so many others have been teaching heresy for years and no one raised one finger to stop them until the Pope did (with some of them at least.)

      I had to put up with some “masses” myself that made me wonder if I had not walked into a different church by mistake. If Fr. Corapi was there I am sure those Masses would not have been so “innovative.”

      In all fairness I see a lot of envy and resentment against Corapi and I don’t blame him one bit for doing what is best for him. If he turns out to be innocent of all those charges he will get as a bonus the list of those who loved him and respected him and the list of those who resented and envied him.

      Please forgive my frankness but we the lay people of the Catholic church are not fools. Many can “see the game” and trust that God is in charge but do not confuse our quiet acceptance of so many irregularities with the stupidity of the vulgar because stupid we are not.

      I know envious resentment when I see it and I have seen a lot of it in the last week or so.

      • jflare29

        OOH-RAH!!

        Carlos, I don’t believe the suggestions that (Father) John Corapi sought fame instead of humility. I think he gained a huge following precisely because he demonstrated a willingness to be a straight shooter and tell us what we needed to know.
        Given the number of people I saw go astray spiritually in the military–and in civilian life since–I truly have appreciated his stern frankness.

        Let’s just keep praying for him and everyone else.
        We all need it.

        • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

          If there was something canonically or evangelically wrong with his preaching one could safely ask: Why find fault with it now after 20 years? Was he ever disobedient? NO Did he ever warned that there were wolves in sheep’s clothes among us, some in the hierarchy. YES HE DID. Was he lying? NO. I don’t have the kind of information Fr. Corapi may have but I have two eyes and I can read (so far, I could use a good miracle there!)

          I could list a number of outrageous things that are public knowledge BTW just to illustrate the point. I know we all run the risk of being crucified, I’ve been getting dirty looks at Mass in certain parishes because (I assume) of my big mouth. Things I have written have been questioned by some that don’t know that all in my writings is merely a regurgitation of something some of the Fathers, Doctors, or good philosophers of the Church have said at one point or another. So if what I write is bad, go to them with the complaint.

          I know what Corapi has gone through. I experience it myself although in a lesser way. An old Spanish proverb says: “Ladran, señal que cabalgamos” (dogs bark, a sign we are galloping forth.) We can count on death, taxes, and the devil making trouble. What’s new?

          I wish someone would have been equally vicious with Marcial Maciel in the 1950′s. It would have saved a lot of people a lot of aggravation.

          Yes. Let us keep praying that God will turn this awful thing around for the glory of His Name.

  • florin

    Lisa, I said ‘if’ a priest is in an order…and every priest IS, in fact, under the authority of the diocese in which he lives and he IS under authority to Rome and the teachings and disciplines of the Catholic Church…no priest is a priest in isolation, master unto himself…

    • jflare29

      Florin,
      If you believe Lisa has spoken with hostility, I suggest you check your own attitude. It’s true enough that all priests have accountability to someone, but different orders and associations will have different rules they follow. (Formerly Father) Corapi might not be accountable to SOLT or the Diocese of Corpus Christi in the manner you imply.
      By the way, the former bishop of Corpus Christi has already commented that Corapi may have ample cause for the direction he’s taken.

      I suggest people cool it regarding Corapi for awhile. From this weekend’s events, it’s pretty clear that neither his supporters nor his detractors have been convinced of much of anything.

      I suggest we all cool it until we know more.
      I suspect we haven’t heard the last of John Corapi.

      Thank heaven!

  • Mary Kochan

    I have edited a couple of comments and I have removed a couple. This conversation is deteriorating into mere back and forth insults. So I am closing comments here. Thank you all for your perspectives.

  • incarcerated

    So, let me ask, I as a prisoner, use to listen to Fr. Corapi on a daily basis. At night right after the Rosary on Spirit 102.7 I would stay awake until I heard his session…I loved his sermons. I must say I am confused about this whole thing. My church says he took leave, and Father Corapi says they asked him to leave. What is true here. Father Copari’s sermons were important to those of us in prison, he brought us hope through- out all our addictions and impulsive behaviors because of our use of drugs and or alcohol…If he is not guilty he should continue on under the unbrella of the Catholic Chuch, if he truly took this leave then he needs to address his actions with us. Please no blacksheep busiess here, we need Father Copari as a active priest, just like they needed Father Pio in ITALY, we need him here, the conversion he experienced was nothing short of a miracle for those of us incarcerated. Please settle this.

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