The Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) as well as father Corapi’s superior, Father Sheehan, has released the awaited official statement.
What in my eyes transpires is as follows:
1) Father Corapi was placed in administrative leave by initiative of his own superior, Fr Sheehan himself. It would therefore appear to be true that the administrative leave doesn’t originate, formally, from the Corpus Christi Diocese.
2) Father Sheehan felt obliged to do so to comply with the infamous proper canonical procedures, because – as they explicitly say – the Bishop advised them to act in accordance with them. This is going to give Bishop Mulvey some flak and it seems to me that the SOLT is here politely taking some distance from the decision. They basically seem to say “I didn’t want to do it, but I really had to”, which explains why Father Corapi seems to exclusively target Bishop Mulvey and/or the diocesan milieu. If you are in any doubt as to the fact that religious orders don’t feel like contravening the Bishop’s instruction, read what Opus Bono Sacerdotii thinks about it, and shiver.
3) The enquiry was still in its initial phase. This basically means that the enquiry had not even come to the point of deciding whether Fr Corapi’s accuser had any credibility or were just, say, a couple of drunkards who had failed in their blackmail attempt and were seeking revenge. This is going to give Fr Corapi more than some flak, particularly considering the short time occurred (Corapi’s letter announcing the intention to abandon the priesthood is dated June 3rd) and the fact that Fr Corapi’s civil lawsuit had slowed down the process in the first place, as written in a former blog post.
4) SOLT clearly states that if the complaint had been found worthy of further investigation, none of the injustices lamented by Fr Corapi would have taken place: he would have had a right of being fully informed of people, facts and circumstances, and would have had a lawyer at his disposal. More flak for him I’m afraid.
What I think – from the information emerged up to now – happened is as follows:
1. The two accusers target Fr Corapi by writing to the bishop.
2. The bishop writes to the SOLT and tells them to use the normal procedures (the zero-tolerance, zero-intelligence policy of administrative leave)
3. SOLT is more or less forced to comply to avoid incurring the ire of the bishop.
4. Fr Corapi is incensed that a letter should stop his ministry (and destroy his business), reacts strongly and thinks of revenge.
5. Still in the early stages, Fr Corapi reacts with civil lawsuits against the accusers.
6. The civil lawsuits makes the SOLT enquiries more difficult; they must now talk only with people indirectly informed. The procedure now threatens to drag for some time.
7. Fr Corapi has a business he doesn’t want to see fade away, and asks his lawyer how long will it take. “Possibly a long time and no one really knows”, is the likely answer.
8. Fr Corapi already has the looming issue of having to leave the order (not holy orders) or having to leave his accustomed way of life, as already written. He has therefore little interest (and I mean here: economic interest) in waiting for the end of a procedure (the pre-trial phase) which will end up with his being found fully innocent, but asked to hand over all the profits from his activity to the SOLT shortly after.
9. Fr Corapi therefore decides to give precedence to his “ministry” and to ditch his habit, which allows him to: a) continue his preaching activity; b) insert a huge suppository in his accusers’ lower regions, with the immediate end of the canonical procedure; c) go on with the profitable business, before the business fades away; d) avoid the alternative of having to hand over the profits of the business to the SOLT or leave the order, as he would probably have been forced to do at some point in the not-too-far future.
I might be wrong here. This seems to be to me the most probable chain of events. I am curious to see whether the readers agree, or where they disagree, and why.
In my eyes – and as so often in human things – here several motives mix. Fr Corapi is seriously attached to his business, but seriously offended at the way he was – as he certainly feels – thrown to the dogs by the bishop. I’d say that he is sincere when he believes in his possibilities to save souls through his ministry as much as he likes the popularity, and the money.
The SOLT has clearly desired to protect him from the brutal “proper canonical procedure”, but was told by the bishop not to think of it and had to cave in. They also have a parallel problem with Corapi in that his financial and otherwise autonomy was seen as increasingly problematic anyway.
The bishop doesn’t want to appear to give a privileged treatment to the “star preacher”, and clearly expects Fr Corapi to grit his teeth for as long as it takes. Probably not so long, he must have thought at the start of the affair, before Fr Corapi’s lawsuit.
In the end analysis, I see the roots of the evil in the following factors:
1) the “proper canonical procedure” is stupid beyond redemption, and is applied without proper consideration (no children involved here; no criminal offence; seriously, what the frock…).
2) Fr Corapi’s first consideration was always the preaching or, if we want to be a bit more realistic, the business; with the possible added spice of a great desire to get even with his accusers. His civil lawsuit (which very probably could have waited for a wee year or two anyway) and, most gravely, his decision to discard his habit cannot, in my eyes, have been founded than on the motive of not letting the business fade away.
3) If Fr Corapi’s first care had been the preaching, this could have waited a wee year or two. If it had been his reputation, he would have known that nothing damages it like leaving the priesthood. If it had been the desire for revenge (which is not very priestly anyway) this would not have been pursued at the cost of his habit.
The only thing that couldn’t wait here is, in my eyes, the publishing business; a business needing popularity, and sustained media presence.
Of course, everyone of us is more multi-faceted than that. In Fr Corapi, as in everyone of us, several motives certainly mix and interact. I believe in both his Christian sincerity and his desire to help. But there can be no justification for the abandoning of one’s priestly duties. Not after three months of inconveniences, not after three years, not after thirty.
Whatever Fr Corapi’s sincere desires and aspiration are, when these desires are allowed to be put before one’s holy orders something is seriously, seriously wrong.
Prayers for him on their way.
Very late now, so yours truly will go to sleep and reflect on the message tomorrow.
This is the text to be found on Father Corapi’s website. it comes from the former Bishop of Corpus Christi, Rene’ Gracida.
The text deserves to be read in its entirety:
The public controversy over the announcement of the accusations against Father John Corapi, SOLT, and his suspension from exercising his priestly ministry offers an opportunity to reflect on the flawed procedure apparently being followed in too many dioceses of the United States these days in the case of a priest accused of sexual misconduct not involving minors. The procedure is flawed because it inflicts grave injustice on the priest and serves as a deterrent to young men thinking of offering themselves as candidates for the priesthood.
The procedure operates something like this. A person accuses a priest of sexual misconduct (again, not involving a minor). The priest is immediately suspended from active exercise of his priestly ministry while an investigation is launched into the truth or falsity of the accusations.
There is no need for a public announcement to be made that gives the name of the priest and the fact of the accusation and the suspension, and yet, all to often such a public announcement is made. Such public announcement by a diocese almost always results in media exploitation of the news in a sensational manner to the detriment of the Catholic Church and its priesthood. It seems that rarely, if ever, is mention is made in the announcement of the name of the accuser.
The investigation may take days or months or years to complete. In the meantime the priest’s reputation is effectively destroyed and perhaps he is ‘thrown out on the street’ with no means of support. The accuser, on the other hand, enjoys anonymity and suffers no loss of reputation or negative material consequences and in the case of an accusation later proven to have been false the injustice to priest is great.
In cases where the priest is accused of having used force (rape or some other form of involuntary abuse) there is some justification for not publishing the name of the accuser. But, where there is reason to believe that the alleged sexual misconduct was effected through mutual consent there is no justification for not publishing the name of the accuser. Under the present procedure it is too easy for a person to allege sexual misconduct (again not involving minors) for a variety of possible unworthy motives: revenge, hope for monetary gain, hostility to the Catholic Faith, etc. Such is reported to have been the case of the accusation against Father Corapi. The only safe way to guard against damaging the reputation of individual priests and the Catholic priesthood in general is to not publish the name of an accused priest until an investigation has proved beyond doubt the guilt of the priest.
The Bishop does not intervene to say that Corapi is innocent, and rightly so. He points out, though, to the absurdity of the current praxis: priest exposed, accused protected in his anonimity (we still don’t know the name of the lady; but we all know that Father Corapi is suspended), great danger of permanent reputation damage and all this, in a case where minors are not involved.
It is refreshing to see a former Bishop intervene in favour of common sense. Bishop Gracida goes so far as to suggest that even the fact that an investigation has taken place should only be divulged after (and if) the priest in question has been found guilty. We are not talking of matters involving the police or the criminal courts here anyway.
Yup, makes sense to me.