OK, I’m waiting. . . .. What Lessons Have We Learned?

I’ve been raked over the coals this past few weeks:
1) For reacting against a movement of fanatics who would defy the USCCB, shut down EWTN, etc., just for the sake of their loyalty to one man
2) For suggesting that this one man who is widely judged to be a “good and holy priest” is not showing signs of holiness by his recent actions
3) For pointing out that a priest who is suspended or laicized is not allowed to be publicly speaking on matters related to the Church without special permission
4) For defending the names of certain “gurus” or “professional Catholics” who have criticized this person
5) For applying my critical reasoning skills to the public statements of this person, and for comparing those statements to the statements of his superior and the spokesmen of two dioceses
6) For actually doing research on the issues at stake, reading the relevant sections of canon law, reading sections from the book _Coronary_ which paints John Corapi as the hero of his lawsuit against Tennant Health Systems while still pointing out behaviors that seem unbecoming a priest, and merely pointing to some problematic aspects of John Corapi’s public behavior and teaching.
Never once have I engaged in undue speculation or rumor-mongering (though some have accused me of that). Never once have I revealed any private “inside knowledge”. I have for the most part avoided talking about things that I thought were unnecessary to talk about or didn’t constitute credible claims, even though those fed into my analysis.

Further, while I have certain suspicions, and feel that we have yet to hear all the metaphorical shoes to drop, I have avoided publicly speculating about what I think will happen in due time.

I have always stuck to focusing on the public facts and statements–which are there for anyone to read–and to my legitimate interpretations thereof.

Today, I feel mildly vindicated and deeply saddened and angered to learn that things were far worse than I was even willing to admit.

The Society of Our Lady of the Trinity has issued another statement, confirming that they *did* find evidence of behavior unbecoming a priest in the allegations against Fr. Corapi. The statement clarifies many of the questions that have been bandied about in the blogosphere. For example, one debate has concerned the “non-disclosure agreement,” whether Corapi made his employees sign a “standard” NDA or whether this NDA specifically referred to his accuser’s allegations. SOLT confirms that it *does* pertain to his accuser’s allegations, and he paid her $100,000 to sign it, possibly having paid similar amounts to other witnesses.

SOLT says that, based on an investigation of his emails alone, without corroboration of the witnesses he intimidated by suing or threatening to sue them, they have proven several of the allegations against him, and you can read all that in the linked article.

I would like to highlight a few points that confirm what I’ve said:

[blockquote]SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. [/blockquote]

I seem to recall that I and others have been accused of calumny and detraction for merely pointing out that Corapi’s statements contradict each other as well as known facts and statements of his superiors. SOLT has now said affirmatively that Corapi has been lying. Obviously, those who think “lying for a good cause” is OK will not have a problem with this.

[blockquote]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.[/blockquote]

There’s been some debate in this whole thing about whether SOLT obliged him to poverty, but, as I’ve argued, *all* Catholic priests are obliged by Canon Law to practice simplicity, and this lifestyle is not indicative of simplicity.

[blockquote]SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.[/blockquote]
Now, SOLT has previously stated that Corapi resigned and it was working with him to process that resignation. This, however, is not a contradiction. Corapi has publicly claimed he’s not resigned and that he’s acting in obedience. By this move, SOLT is throwing down the gauntlet and making it clear that, if Corapi engages in further “Black Sheepdog” garbage, he will be canonically disciplined, and those who follow him are doing a very bad thing. They’ve tried to play nice with him, and he’s refused. They’re not going to let him paint himself a good Catholic lay evangelist who happens to be a suspended priest being unjustly persecuted by the Shadowy Conspiracy ([TM] and [C] Michael Voris).

[blockquote]SOLT’s prior direction to Fr. John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues. Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Fr. John Corapi as fit for ministry.[/blockquote] (emphasis added)
In other words, Catholics who read “The Black Sheepdog” with anything but a critical eye are committing an act of disobedience as bad as attending an SSPX or “Old Catholic” service.

However, that’s not what concerns me tonight. What concerns me is the attitude and defiance of Corapi’s “fanbase,” many of whom are still sticking their heads in the sand.

“This is a time for prayer,” they say. Way to play high and mighty after weeks of calumniating Bishop Mulvey and Fr. Sheehan.

“I won’t believe it till a civil court decides” (So now ecclesiastical matters are to be decided by civil courts?)

“I don’t trust anything coming from [SOLT/Corpus Christi/EWTN/The Register]”. Uh-huh.

“How do we know this report is even for real?” (Initially, it was appearing only on the _National Catholic Register_–and we all know EWTN, new owner of the Register, is part of the Vast Shadowy Gay Conspiracy, though it has since appeared on the SOLT site itself).

Etc.

One of the first bloggers to comment on this was South Carolina’s own Anglican convert priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker. He offers a very good commentary about the issue of “celebrity priests” and how the admiration that surrounds them may not necessarily be about spiritual advancement so much as people trying to palliate their frustrations.

Fr. Longenecker happens to be a follicly challenged priest with a goatee and a booming voice. Back when this stuff started in March, Fr. Longenecker wrote a great post on a similar reflection, telling a story of one time he was flying into Birmingham for an EWTN interview. Some people came up to him, “We love you!” they said. He asked which of his books they liked. “Books?” they asked. “Aren’t you Fr. Corapi?” “No, I’m Fr. Longenecker.” “Oh, well, we’ve never heard of you!” With that, they left.

At the time, many of the comments on his site and others were things like, “Obviously, [Fr. Longenecker] is just jealous of Fr. Corapi’s popularity” or “I’ve never heard of this ‘Fr. Longenecker.’ How do we even know he’s a real priest?”

These “Never Criticize a Priest [If His Name is John Corapi]” people have had no problem criticizing Fr. Longenecker. They haven’t apologized yet. No, they’re just digging their heads further into the sand.

I’ll let Mark Shea speak for himself about the accusations that these loving Christians have made against him:
[blockquote]Turns out I have borne a grudge against Fr. Corapi for years, according to some readers. I have hated his orthodoxy, according to others. Still others inform me that I burn with envy for his riches. We must not forget that Pride is also a huge motivating factor since he has racked up far more convert scalps than I have, a fact which (I am told) fills me with cold jealous fury. According to some, I am likewise filled with jealousy for his manliness and I am secretly a homosexual (or at least fellow traveler), a fact proven by my once having lunched with Fr. Sirico. [/blockquote]

The Anchoress also has some wise words on this “bomb” as she puts it.

Again, I AM NOT JUDGING THE SOUL OF JOHN CORAPI. It is sounding increasingly like he was never particularly sincere in his ministry, but I hope he’s a genuinely a struggling soul, or mentally ill, or some combination. His soul is between him and God.

I’ve been accused of “kicking a man when he’s down.” Problem is; he’s not “down”; he’s rebelling against the Church, and SOLT has now confirmed this, and in that sense, yes, I will defy him in his rebellion. Those who enable him by cheering him on are the ones who endanger his soul. I am seeking the good of his soul when I call on him to engage in absolute obedience to his Society.

So, let me reiterate my positions and the reasons I’ve addressed this so vehemently:

1) Those who support Corapi as “The Black Sheepdog” are endangering their own souls, and SOLT has confirmed this.

2) Corapi is putting his own soul at risk, and needs to be admonished.

3) Those who support Corapi have been calumniating a lot of good Catholics, particularly the SOLT superiors and the bishops of Corpus Christi and Helena, and they still refuse to apologize for it.

4) “Orthodoxy” and charisma are not enough. Absolute obedience to the Church and to Canon Law counts for something. I keep thinking of one of my favorite lines from _House, MD_. Early in the series, when they are treating a death row inmate, Dr. Cameron expresses surprise that Dr. Foreman supports the death penalty. She says how disproportionately African Americans are executed versus Caucasians. “That just means we need to kill more white people,” says Foreman.
I keep thinking of that as I hear people express their hope that Saint John Corapi the Litigious will be the Martyr of Unjustly Accused Priests and over turn the evil “Dallas Policy” (even though both SOLT and Corpus Christi have said this has to do with SOLT’s internal policies and not the “Dallas Charter”). Just the opposite is true: for too long, bishops have allowed “minor” infractions of discipline, canon law, and liturgical norms to go unpunished, which sets the culture in which priests feel free to engage in worse infractions, whether doctrinally or morally.
I’ve always argued of liberal priests that liturgical abuse and laxity regarding the “trappings” of the priesthood (clerical garb) is to be associated with false teachings (the classic “I can’t wait for the Pope [or ‘all these traditionalists’] to die” homily/tirade I’ve heard from time to time) and with misdeeds (ranging from pornography to fornication to abuse).
The thing about priests like Corapi and Euteneuer is that they were engaging in a kind of “Cafeteria Catholicism of the Right”, the kind we see in some aspects of the Traditional Movement and many aspects of the Charismatic Movement, and certainly in the whole Medjugorje hoax. It’s a mentality that following what feels “spiritual” or following what the individual layperson judges to be “holiness” is more important than following the legitimate authorities of the Church. It’s all about “loopholes” in Canon Law. When you start to live in loopholes and exceptions, it’s not long before you stop following the rules altogether.

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6 responses to “OK, I’m waiting. . . .. What Lessons Have We Learned?

  1. Here is what I have learned: On the right, there exists a group of American Catholics who are willing to utterly overlook the sins of the priests who tickle their ears with nice stories about freedom, liberty, and worshiping the invisible hand of the free market instead of Christ. Put yourself above man’s law is one thing, but apparently John Corapi belives himself to be above God’s law as well.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Now that Corapi’s claims of Special Forces training or service were debunked by pownetwork.org, we have to ask how many others of his personal stories were fictions: did he really rescue a former nun from a drug den? What about his riches-to-rags-to-robes story? Was he a complete phony like Maciel, or did he have a sincere conversion but fall into old habits? It’ll all be out eventually.

    • Richard, thanks for your comment, but that’s exactly the kind of speculation we should avoid unless the proper authorities announce otherwise. There have been responses offered to the pownetwork claims, so we don’t know they’ve been debunked.

      At least part of his story was verified by his former accounting partner Joe Zerga in the book _Coronary_. The only thing that should concern us about his former ministry is if his current behavior identifies flaws in the reasoning or spirituality he taught–which I think it does. I don’t think we need to go digger for dirt to paint him as a complete fraud.

  3. My comment is not directly related to the Corapi situation, but I think it’s pertinent and is something that needs to be addressed. I have been very disappointed by the reactions of some bloggers, (not on this site), but some Catholic bloggers who have been very uncharitable toward whistleblowers, particularly in the Etenuer situation. These bloggers have defamed these people online, calling them Jezebels and lunatics because 1) They don’t want to hear what they have to say and 2) because these whistleblowers could not publicly reveal their sources. And yes, I believe these sources were reliable sources. Good journalists sometimes have to protect the identities of their sources, ie. Deep Throat in the Watergate Scandal is just one example. I just wanted to express this because I don’t think Catholics should be judging whistleblowers and their intentions simply because they cannot reveal their sources.

    • Exactly, Rose. It’s an ad hominem. If Fr. Corapi’s accuser is a nut–and she seems like it, though she may also have been driven nuts by what he’s put her through–that doesn’t necessarily negate her allegations against him (and as I’ve also noted, she could be committing libel against him legally but not ecclesiastically, since she’s accusing him of things that are OK in the world’s eyes but bad in the Church’s eyes).
      If Fr. Euteneuer’s “victims” seduced him, or if the demons that were possessing them seduced him, well, he still succumbed to the possession. That just shows why the Church is so strict about regulations of exorcists and making sure exorcists are priests of impeccable purity and virtue.

      As for bloggers, if these men and their followers didn’t publicly lie and publicly promote themselves, there’d be no need to discuss it publicly.

      People are still going around claiming Fr. Euteneuer was falsely accused, and if you correct them and show that he’s been found guilty by the his diocese, they say you’re committing detraction, or else they attack the sources.

  4. This is one of the best analysis of the John Corapi story I have read. I’ve read some of the comments from readers in other websites. Some people think Father Corapi is a living saint or something. I just can’t believe they think he can’t sin. There’s one guy on one traditional Catholic website that has a “man crush” on Corapi or something. He even said priests could be disobedient to their superiors. Yes, if they are asked to commit a mortal sin but not to come back to their community. Unbelievable.

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