Shooting the Sheepdog: The Saga of Fr. John Corapi

Posted on July 17, 2011 by


I have been following the Fr. John Corapi saga with interest.

Background

Fr. John Corapi was a late vocation.  He served in the military, became an accountant in Las Vegas, moved to Los Angeles and made a lot of money in real Estate.  He rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, lived fast, partied hard and lost it all.  That eventually lead him to the priesthood and he was ordained by Pope John Paul II, in 1991 at the age of 44.  Fr. Corapi was never a parish priest and is a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT).  After  ordination he became a nationally known Catholic preacher.  He is very orthodox and he has a bold direct message.

Allegations

Earlier this year, the SOLT and the Bishop of Corpus Christi put Fr. Corapi on indefinite suspension due to allegations of sexual impropriety and drug use made by a former female employee of Fr. Corapi’s business, Santa Cruz media.  Thus begins the saga.

Based on the advice of his civil lawyers and his canon lawyer, Fr. Corapi chose to cease presenting himself to the public as a priest.  He would still be a priest, but he would not act as a priest in administration of any Sacraments.  He would no longer be addressed as Father.  This decision was consistent with the advice of a retired Bishop that said Fr. Corapi would likely not get a fair hearing and the case would remain in limbo in perpetuity.  Here is John Corapi’s complete statement: God Love You, God Bless You and Goodbye

Friday June 17, 2011 – by John Corapi (excerpt)

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.

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.

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.

Then John Corapi embarked upon his new ministry as The Black Sheep Dog. SOLT issues this statement in reply: Official SOLT Statement Regarding Fr. John Corapi

Monday June 20, 2011 – by SOLT (excerpt)

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.

I was hesitant to cite such calumny but seeing the extent to which unfounded allegations have been spread by the hierarchy in the Catholic Church is critical to understanding this saga.  The reputations of men, whether they be priests or biological fathers, are under attack.

Public Reaction

There have been many Catholic bloggers commenting on this saga and questioning the actions of John Corapi.  Criticism has been scathing. Few people grasp the reality and John Corapi has been judged harshly by those that lack information and understanding.  The consensus of the “faithful” was that John Corapi should have just suffered in silence and humility since no one could know whether the he was guilty or innocent, but freely choosing to not present himself to the world as a priest was scandalous.  They jumped to the conclusion that John Corapi had lost his faith because he was not doing what they thought he should do.

John Corapi began his new initiative to speak on important matters of faith and other issues ouside of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, while remaining a Catholic.

Retaliation

It seems this riled up certain powers within the Catholic Church because the SOLT issued this second statement: Press Release Concerning Fr. John Corapi from SOLT Regional Priest Servant

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 – by SOLT (excerpt)

While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Fr. John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.

SOLT’s fact-finding team has acquired information from Fr. Corapi’s e-mails, various witnesses, and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute; He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs; He has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana; He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society.

Analysis

During this saga and on numerous blogs, numerous Catholic comments were something like this: “Fr. Corapi,  We will pray for you.  You are wrong in your decision and it appears you have lost your faith.  We can’t know if you are guilty or innocent but if you are innocent you should suffer in silence and humility as has been done by saints in the past.  You should drop your civil lawsuit and cooperate.  You should go live in the community that you are a member of and give all your money to that society.  Be obedient.”

Such people attempt to couch their comments in charity, but have little understanding of basic rights, endowed by God, which are inalienable.  John Corapi is innocent.  Full stop.  How can I say this?  Because we live in the United States of America where a man IS INNOCENT until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  Canon law also applies but the penalties of guilt must not be imposed prior to a finding of guilt.  To do otherwise is not justice.  Also John Corapi never has been accused of ANY improprieties with children, so using the guidelines adopted by the bishops to investigate these types of allegations do not apply to John Corapi’s situation.  The man has been railroaded, thrown under the bus, thrown to the wolves, scapegoated and convicted by public opinion.  Those in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church appear to be acting without integrity or pursuit of justice.   The Catholic populace appears to be behaving just like the mob standing before Pontius Pilot, yelling “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”  Maybe this is fitting, after all priests do act in persona Christi.

Since when does an unnamed Fact Finding Team function as a Judge and Jury?  There are problems with SOLT’s press release and a rational person should be skeptical.  There are blatant misrepresentations and inconsistencies, if not outright lies.

The press release from SOLT has a different tone and is contradictory with the first statement and other previously released information.  John Corapi never took a vow of poverty so the fact that he has money and is not turning it over to the society is immaterial.  Does SOLT recognize the importance of vows?  The detraction and calumny in the press release is astounding.  John Corapi was expected to abandon his civil rights and drop a lawsuit.  The spin in order to make John Corapi look bad is as skillful as that used by a professional politician.

Would a sane man choose to stay in the public eye as John Corpai has done if he knew there was any truth in the allegations?  I doubt it.  Is John Corapi sane?  Well, he speaks bluntly, has a masculine presence and his message is orthodox and consistent with the official teaching of the Catholic Church.  So by all appearances John Corapi is sane.   Something smells fishy and the odor is not wafting from the direction of John Corapi.

I am disgusted at the way the current Bishop of Corpus Christi and the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity have handled this case.  The following links have some of the best analysis of this case, which you will not find from the vast majority of Catholics:

From Abysssus Abyssum Invocat (Bp. Gracida – Bishop Emeritus (Retired) of the Diocese of Corpus Christi)

My Final Comment (Hopefully) on the Case of Father John Corapi

A Well Reasoned and Balanced Appraisal of the Father John Corapi Case

No One, Especially a Religious Superior, Is Allowed to Practice Detraction and Calumny

Of Ostriches and Father John Corapi

I am NOT defending John Corapi.   That is not my job.  Neither should the comments to this article be about deciding his guilt.  That is a matter for a court of law, be it either a civil court (there has been no crime alleged) or a court of canon law.  “Whatif” and “Yabut” types of comments are merely justification for judgment by vigilantes.  Comments on the corrupt system and implications are most welcome.  Oh forget it, just say what you want because “This is Liberty Hall.  You can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard.”

Posted in: Religion