Monday, June 20, 2011

The stories don't square

Most people will not pay attention to the differences in detail here but the two versions don't add up.

John Corapi has said "I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors against their will and better judgment to do it....

"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. "

But according to his superiors: "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 an society of apostolic 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 constitution, 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."

I should also point out that had this gone to the Holy See, Cardinal Burke, a man one can easily imagine in sympathy with Fr. Corapi's ministry, and a man known for punctillious attention to detail in procedure would have insured due process.


  1. Al, I have not listened to your podcast yet for today but I eagerly anticipate doing so. (by the way, I posted yesterday on my blog about this. I include a quote from a 1994 talk by Fr. Corapi that mentions his butting heads with bishops even then I appreciate your comments as always, but I see things in SOLT's statement that jibe with Fr. Corapi's version of the story. Particularly is SOLT's statement:

    "due to the gravity of the accusation...Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry"

    That sounds like exactly the kind of unfair treatment Fr. Corapi was talking about in the process. If he is correct in this matter, there is no credible evidence of his guilt to warrant such a drastic, and publicly humiliating reaction. They also admit later:

    "if the allegations have been found to be credible..."

    Again, that does not sound like a sober reaction to sensational accusations. If the claim was not yet even found credible, why was he suspended?

    The SOLT statement also indicates that the Bishop of Corpus Christi did indeed initiate the process when it said:

    "At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT....."

    So I do not see a conflict in the two statements. SOLT did not indicate one way or another if they were eager to proceed with this or not prior to the Bishop's advice.

    So I think there is an awful lot remaining to unfold in this story before we condemn one side or another. As I wrote yesterday, is it possible that an aging and once-rumored-unhealthy Fr. Corapi feels called to complete work in this life he would not be able to do had his suspension persisted? How long might that have taken? I am not sure we know the answers yet. He may be guilty of things in this episode, but I do not see cause to view him as guilty until proven innocent at this point.

  2. From Fr. Sheehan's statement: 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

    But he knew his accuser enough to file a lawsuit against her for going forth with a complaint to the bishop for a violating a non-disclosure agreement.

    That does not square either.

  3. Sam,

    Suspension of your faculties in light of an investigation is not unjust. It happens in secular fields all the time. It wasn't like he was defrocked.

    Nobody, including his superiors, or the Bishop, viewed him as "guilty until proven innocent." His superior stated "Father Corapi is a priest in good standing" of SOLT.

    Perhaps Fr. Corapi felt that this would be the case. If that is so, he was wrong. In the end, he made a choice.

  4. Kevin, do you know which canon law it is that requires a priest be suspended if there is an allegation such as the one the SOLT had to deal with that was admittedly not yet "found to be credible"?

  5. Posted on another site by a bishop who has had contact with Fr. Corapi was a statement that suggested he was leaving the shelter of the church to pursue a political agenda. While I admire the Katuscha, I cannot agree with the decision.

  6. Only that this has happened in several cases to the point it isn't shocking. This also happens in the secular world as well. To prevent a possible scandal, and to ensure the protection of all involved, the person is removed from their active duties.

    Ponder for a moment that Fr. Corapi is guilty. What if, during that investigation, he had another dalliance with a woman, and caused that marriage to end? Think of the controversy that would be generated by his public appearances.

    This was a standard precautionary measure. It wasn't "guilty until proven innocent."

    And the allegation WAS found to be at least credible enough to proceed further in the investigation. That was when they found they could not continue the investigation, due to the non-disclosure agreements.

  7. Bishop Gracida agrees that Fr. Corapi has done the right thing. Gracida acknowledges the Church's legal system is a bad joke in MOST dioceses.

    Gracida wrote: "I believe that he is justified in not seeking to clear his name through a canonical process; at the present time such processes are very flawed in most dioceses."

  8. Many clergy facing weak accusations don't get to the point of defending themselves in a canonical trial.

    The "preliminary investigation" phase of the diocese can take years, for no obvious reason. One case in Boston involves accusations that have been withdrawn, and yet the priest remains on administrative leave with no trial after six years. It appears that justice can be denied by simply failing to proceed to a trial.

    Despite Corapi's faults (and I am no fan of his), I can't be surprised at complaints against this aspect of the system.

  9. Al,

    The issue is not with Fr. Corapi. Let us suppose that some disgruntled parishoner decides to accuse Fr. Riccardo of sexual misconduct tomorrow. Should the Archbishop suspend activities? And the next priest, and the next priest, etc. This cannot be our M.O. in the church. Bishops cannot throw their priests under the bus for the sake of appearing to be responsive to every accusation. This does not provide the necessary support for our priests. This also has broken the necessary relationship between Bishops and priests, right? Fr. Corapi is just the latest victim of this broken system. What plan do Bishops have to protect their priests and the church from spurious accusations?

  10. Wow.
    If what RC said above could really happen, that Fr Corapi could've been effectively in limbo for years on end, I'm a tad surprised he's waited this long to cease functioning as a priest.

    I would think that, after even a month of advice and investigation, if someone told me that definite action one way or another could take several years, I likely would be immensely foolish to remain in that present state.

    There's a reason why, in civil/criminal law, an accused has the right to expedient trial. Both the accused and the accuser have a legitimate need for settling the dispute, one way or another. They need to get on with life sooner or later.

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  12. The administrative suspension coming so swiftly upon accusation is also not unusual. In my diocese, the standard is mere surface plausibility. If the priest and the accuser both lived in the same parish at the time specified, the diocese decides that an illicit contact was *possible*, and the priest is put on leave on that basis. This is how some US bishops are implementing the "Dallas Charter" rules.

  13. I disagree with the article above, especially with the comments of Bishop Emeritus Gracida, who gave permission to SOLT in the first place.Church processes are notoriously slow; Fr.C.needs to strike fast in his own defence: thus recourse against the supposed accusers in the civil courts, which will hold them accountable. Besides that, Fr. C. entered SOLT under the founder WHO PURPOSELY LET MEMBERS TO LIVE OUTSIDE COMMUNITY AS LONG AS THEY SUPPORTED THEMSELVES. The community has a right to change the rules and take a vow of poverty where each person hands over all income. But Fr. C. ALSO has the right to say "that's not what I signed up for or was agreed to by the founder! The FLAW in the 2002 bishops proceedures is to SUSPEND FIRST AND FIND OUT LATER IF IT IS CREDIBLE. This is a fundamental mistake. the credibility of the charges needs to be found out FIRST IN THE MATTER OF REPUTATION AND A QUICK RESPONSE TO FALSE CHARGES MADE; THAT IS WHY IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE FOR HIM TO HAVE RECOURSE TO THE CIVIL COURTS AGAINST THE COUPLE, KNOWN ALCOHOLICS FOR YEARS WITH MORE THAN A HINT OF $ IN THEIR EYES!

  14. As with the experience in my own blog, it seems that the most vile comments come from those who choose to use the "anonymous" option. People can speak however they want and hide behind anonymity. Perhaps if they got enough of a spine to use their real name, their tone and choice of words would be a little different.

    With regards to Bishop Gracida, a well known orthodox bishop, and pro-life champion who is loved and respected by many, I am perplexed by his apparent cheering on of Father Corapi's decision to abandon the priesthood after three months of suspension. I'm actually disappointed,especially given this latest audio from Father Corapi which reveals, to my mind, a very troubled man who is cracking at the seams. Given his rejection to give up the high-life at the ranch and accept the invitation to live back in community, I think there were much bigger underlying issues taking place some time ago. He is not the same man today that we all came to know and love in his earlier catechetical appearances. Those were very Christo-centric and humble. Later talks seem to have turned ego-centric and boastful. In the end, he made some choices - choices that he had a right to make, but which for many of us will remain disappointing. He will be in my prayers.

  15. Yes, I do think the anonymous people should man up and say who they are. I have a feeling it would not end well for them if they did however.

    And Joey, flawed as the Church process is, do the ends justify the means? The bishop determined it was credible enough to proceed with an investigation.

    Do you have any alternatives? Do we let a possibly guilty priest continue in his ministry while everything is sorted out, something that even secular professions of authority recognize is a bad idea?

    And we need to remember: For Corapi "toughed" it out for less than 90 days. And he did so on advice that it was pointless to even attempt to defend his innocence. If that's the case, he should've fired his canon lawyer. (I for one doubt a faithful canon lawyer would've ever said such a thing.)

    In the end, Fr. Corapi's obedience is far more meritorious than any preaching he could do. Go look at the story of King Saul. He wins a great victory for God, but doesn't do all God requires.

    Now Saul was doing something that was entirely sensible from a worldly standpoint. Yet God desired obedience, not actions on our own terms. He desires to be pleased a certain way. Fr. Corapi felt he knew better. Such is his right. But such is the right of Mr. Kresta and others for calling him on it.

  16. The words of Our Lady of Akita—given official recognition by the present Pope when he was still Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

    The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…. churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

    The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them…" —Message given through an apparition to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973; approved in June of 1988.

  17. If you are a famous Catholic priest, and you own your own media company and have made quite an impact among the lay faithful, it might be tempting to think that you must go on... that "your" work must continue at all costs. It might be unfathomable to you that you would have to cease doing what you have done for so long for reasons that do not seem just. But, regardless of your "success" as a priest, your duty as a priest still remains.

    You have a duty to your bishop. You have a duty to the church. You have a duty to the faithful. I don't think that any part of that duty includes coming up with a cute moniker, resigning publicly, and giving up your vocation in favor of doing what you think you are supposed to do. If you are priest who is up against it, and is feeling the difficulty that comes from living with the fall out of evil men who also wore that collar, you can be reminded that you represent Christ, who also suffered unjustly.

    You can do what you have so often advised others to do, which is to endure with dignity and with the firm conviction that this also will form your character, this also will be beneficial for the salvation of your soul and this also will help enrich the vast treasury of good works that others have stored up before you.

    I am unsettled and dismayed by this turn of events in the unfolding drama of Father John Corapi. He hasn't been an instrument of my formation as a Catholic, but I have been aware of his works. I have counted him as a ally and fellow worker to those of us who long for a resurgent dynamic orthodoxy in American Catholicism. This is a wound that I hope does not fester.

  18. Joey,
    As I understand it, the priest must be removed once an allegation is regarded as credible or worthy of investigation. As I've said before this might be a poor policy but imagine how people would react if someone was left in active ministry throughout the whole process and there was another charge of misconduct. Everybody would be screaming for the bishop's head.

    The Church conducts itself differently than the civil authorities and removes the priest before the investigation has been concluded. We tend not to hear about the many accusations that come in and are considered incredible.

    I personally know 6 priests who have either been renmoved permanently or are awaiting disposition or have been looked at and left in ministry. All of them have complained about the process including the one that has been left in ministry. Obviously there is a problem. It is unclear to me, however, what these cases have to do with Corapi's situation since he shortcircuited the process with his civil suit (which was his right). It just doesn't sound quite right to complain about a process that you've shortcircuited. It's like killing your parents and then crying that you are an orphan.

  19. To Freddy,
    "I am unsettled and dismayed by this turn of events in the unfolding drama of Father John Corapi. He hasn't been an instrument of my formation as a Catholic, but I have been aware of his works. I have counted him as a ally and fellow worker to those of us who long for a resurgent dynamic orthodoxy in American Catholicism. This is a wound that I hope does not fester."

    Your sentiments move me. The resurgence of dynamic orthodoxy in American Catholicism has been my life's work since I returned to the Church in 1992. Fr. Corapi was considered one of the brightest lights out there. He was a "superstar", so to speak. A few years ago he stopped producing new material. We assumed it was for health reasons. Then last year he did his mammoth conferences which we participated in with some minor reservations. This year he has thrown us a wild pitch. I wish I had more time to respond but I'm ready to get back on air.

  20. Al,
    Thank you for taking the time to address thoughts/concerns. I have not been a big follower of Fr. Corapi, but have definitely benefited from his teachings. Our family became Catholic a mere 4 years ago, after having been in Protestant ministry, etc. I would listen to Fr. Corapi (on the radio) at different times, and always learned something new about the Church and my faith. However, if there is anything I have learned in this journey, it is the need for lay people and clergy alike to be submissive to their authority (i.e. bishops, etc.). I am deeply saddened by his choice to leave his priestly ministry before those in authority over him had the time to investigate the accusations completely. I will continue to follow this story, deep in prayer, and committing Fr. Corapi and all involved to the care of the Blessed Mother and Blessed Pope John Paul II.

    Incidentally, I used to listen to your radio program on WMUZ (Talk from the Heart?). I remember when you announced your return to the Church. As a Protestant, I just couldn't understand why. Now, of course, I am so thankful that you made the decision you did. God bless!

  21. I can't help but wonder who among us would like folks speculating about our personal sins on a blog. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't these sins against charity - detraction, calumny, rash judgment?

    Far from me to play the holier than thou role in a pique of self-righteousness. I am more the pious fraud type, but I can't help but believe that Our Lord isn't very pleased with us.


  22. To Delphina--As I understand it--calumny is telling destructive lies about someone. That's self-explanatory. Rash judgment means forming an unfavorable opinion of someone or their actions without sufficient warrant--i.e. jumping to bad conclusions. That's a tricky thing to assess. I guess it's a matter of conscience. Detraction means disclosing someone's true but private fault without cause. This, of course, requires that the fault not already be public knowledge--then on top of that, the listener must have no right or need to know it. If someone says, "I stopped in to see Joe at home last night--he was a little tipsy," that would likely be detraction if you're just gossping--not so if you're alarmed about Joe and seeking help for him. But if your son says, "Daddy, I think the bus driver was drunk this morning," it would certainly NOT be detraction for you to disclose that to the school administration.
    Larry N.

  23. Edith Stein wrote this, "Only the person who renounces self-importance, who no longer struggles to defend or assert himself, can be large enough for God's action."

  24. my beloved confessor & spiritual director of over 20 years was accused of sexual abuse "within the last 4 or 5 years" by two women. He was in his 88th year at the time & was immediately suspended from all his priestly duties after more than 50 years of being a very devout & spiritual Priest monk in his community. He had been very frail & in ill health for very many years by this time & these accusations & his Faculties taken from him, had a detrimental effect & he died last year, aged 89. He would've been 90 in April this year. His name was splattered all over the papers & by the time it came to court & thrown out, because "there was no case to answer to" the damage had been done after all his years of faithful service & reputation but the reporters didn't tell the public he was innocent. The accusers were two ex-nuns who lived together in a nearby village, with an axe to grind. All I can say is that we must pray & pray more for the unjust way in which these cases are handled & prevent good, holy Priests from the terrible toll on their lives when unjustly accused.

  25. Why do people insist on continuing to spread falsehoods and innuendo?

    When did Father ever say he was leaving the PRIESTHOOD? Maybe he's leaving the order but that is hardly the same.

    The truth in this case may not emerge for many years but the tongues will be wagging nonetheless.