I have posted before going to sleep the video of Father (I’ll still call him that way, as long as he is) Corapi. I would now like, after some hours of sleep, to write a thing or two about this.
Let me say beforehand that I continue to believe in his innocence from the allegations, for the following reasons:
1) a priest should be considered, by anyone, innocent until proved guilty. This is valid even if the priest in question is a very successful preacher with an entrepreneurial hunch. I am sorry to say that this is, googling around, not really the case. You try that happening to you and then tell me how it feels.
2) this move seems, among other things, motivated from the desire to be able to defend himself seriously against the lady accusing him. When Father Corapi is John Corapi again, the trial will be – if any takes place – a civil one, and then the lady must come up with something to substantiate her accusation, or shut up, or be massacred in court. Corapi says he has “forgiven” her, but even in the Papal States you got forgiveness before getting on the scaffold, so his forgiveness is certainly not one with any legal effect.
Let me also say again, before every discussion, that the current way the Church deals with priests accused of misconduct is a damn shame. This is the stupidity of the pedophile years all over again, in the contrary direction. It is a mistery to me how a young man can now decide to pursue his vocation, unless his vocation is to have his name and reputation destroyed at the command of the first person with some grievance against him. This is just a disgrace and I truly hope that this senseless praxis will change soon. Read here what not Corapi, but the bishop emeritus of Corpus Christ, Gracida, thinks on the matter. What is happening here is pure madness.
But after saying that, I must say that many questions remain open and paint a picture that is, to put it mildly, not entirely flattering for Father Corapi. Let us see them.
1) Priesthood. Here is not clear yet whether he will be defrocked; whether he has himself asked to go; and what his order thinks about the matter. When one leaves the priesthood himself (by far the most probable answer) I am sorry but I do not think that this can be downplayed as “a major change”. A move is a major change, or falling in love, or getting a new job. Holy Orders are not something one takes and leaves according to convenience. Last time I looked, to leave the priesthood was not a choice but a grave sin and a shame and the fact that the Church has after V II accepted to make of this a current praxis doesn’t make the matter less grave. Sacraments (and the duties that go with them; obedience, say) cannot be disregarded because a “major change” is now more convenient. If he is going to “defrock himself” as it appears this is very, very bad.
2) Publishing empire. I wonder whether the reaction would have been different if he had not had a well-oiled publishing operation. Corapi clearly always had an entrepreneurial hunch and I find this not bad at all; but if the publishing empire goes before the clerical habit then yes, I find this entirely bad. Let us also consider that, beside the obvious talent of the man, his success was in part due to his being a priest, with the authority and holy orders that go with that. He cannot think that things will stay the same with the only difference of “John Corapi” written on the DVD boxes.
3) The black sheep. In the simple world where I live, one claims his innocence or he confesses his guilt. If he is innocent, he should avoid self-commiseration and self-styling as a victim. I don’t like black sheep. I want my sheep white. I also don’t like the smell of “we are a group apart” that this seems to imply. To play renegades should be forbidden to everyone older than seventeen.
4) The half words. At times, the message is outright creepy. 1) He accepts what has “transpired”. What is this? Does this imply some imprudence, or inappropriate behaviour from him? Is he hiding something that will come out soon? 2) He “perhaps deserves” to be thrown out. Really? Really really? Why the fuss then?
5) Clearly the biggest problem here: the pride. We are all human and I am the first one to say that I truly like the though guys like Corapi. He clearly sees himself as the victim of an injustice and gets in reaction mode. All fine in itself, if you ask me; he is certainly not supposed to be slaughtered without defending himself, and I like a combative priest like the next man. But at the price of his habit? At the price of leaving the priesthood? Pride is playing him a very bad trick here. And pride it is, as by simply shutting up his reputation would have remained forever intact among his very many followers, which is much more than every priests on the planet risks, by the idiotic system currently in place, every day.
I have never thought that Father Corapi was a “living saint”, as I think that “living saints” are very rare. But I did think that he was a great man besides being a brilliant mind and a sincere Christian, and am now left wondering what tricks economic interests or, more probably, pride and desire to get even with the lady accusing him are playing to him. I will not make a cruel comparison with Padre Pio, a man who was accused of the same behaviour, and of other horrible things besides, and accepted years of humiliations – and a life of always rehashed slanders afterwards – in perfect obedience and perfect humility. I’d never be able to do it myself, and I will not say to Father Corapi that Padre Pio is the standard. But what I would ask of a priest, is that he defends himself and does whatever he can compatibly with his remaining a priest. To say that this is “not possible” is to negate one’s role as a priest in the first place. Priests are victims, not heroes.
The comparison with Padre Pio, or Fulton Sheen, might be too hard. But the comparison with the thousands and thousands of priests who get slandered, threatened, insulted and perhaps harmed or killed in many parts of the world, bearing a heavy cross that the world doesn’t even see, can certainly be drawn.
I cannot see any of them reacting in this way. I also cannot see any Father Zuhlsdorf, or Father Finigan, reacting in this way.
A line has been crossed here. A sacramental one. And this is not even a matter of weakness. If he had said “I have been week and have been with a hooker” this would have been bad, but merely a weakness, not a rebellion. If he had said “I have been overcome by stress and have started taking too many pills, so that now I don’t even know whether I am a drug addict again” this would have been bad, but one would have understood the pressure, and the snares of the devil.
But this here seems to me cold-blooded rebellion to his habit, an all-pervading desire to continue to be the hero of the masses or, much more probably, to defend his name and reputation at any cost. But this is self-defeating, as one cannot defend his reputation in ways that must perforce damage it.
Father Corapi is and remains a brilliant mind. Many of the quotes in my “quotable Catholic” section come from him. They will remain there, make no mistake. He will have my prayers, but certainly not my support in his new activity. And our prayers he truly needs, because in him a brilliant mind and a sincere heart fight against clearly present self-destructive tendencies, and an ego that wants too much. If he thinks that after this move his situation will improve he is, in my eyes, sadly mistaken and a slow journey to self-destruction, sorry as I am to say this, appears to me a more likely occurrence. Satan is clearly circling around a good soul, whispering in his hear sweet words of celebrity, intact reputation, adoring crowds, if he just…… abandons his habit. Abandon his habit! One is almost reminded of Doktor Faust. Best wishes to him, and let’s keep him in our prayers.
He wants, I think, to become another Michael Voris. Perfectly orthodox of course, but free to talk and to defend himself. But there’s a fundamental difference between Michael Voris and John Corapi.
Michael Voris never left the priesthood.
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.
Very Interesting blog post from Pat Archbold about the Corapi Affair.
Mr. Archbold says a couple of interesting things, on which I’d like to expand a bit.
1) As Mr. Archbold has been the subject of slandering accusations in the past, he is acutely aware of the effect of such slanders on the life of a person unjustly accused of horrible things. This obviously doesn’t mean in itself that Corapi is innocent, it merely reminds us of how easy the slandering game is.
“Slander, slander! Something will stick!” were, more or less, Voltaire’s trenchant words. As human nature hasn’t changed in the meantime, the principle sadly maintains all its dreadful validity.
2) Rev. Sheenan’s statement adds, in my eyes, further elements to the situation. The Reverend confirms that, as per today, there’s nothing else than the letter. It is not that several people have spoken about the same episodes; it is not that facts have been checked and concordances found; it is not that a variety of elements hardens the suspicion. All there is, is a letter of a former employee.
Ever worked in an office?
3) Again, the Reverend confirms with his own words what we already knew from Father Corapi himself: no criminal law profile involved. Even if Father Corapi were to be found guilty, as per today the matter would not involve civil authorities. This clearly excludes drug use and leaves as main field for supposition “sexual impropriety”, which – being I the chauvinistic bastard you all know and, perhaps, not entirely dislike – instantly reminds me of a famous saying wrongly attributed to Shakespeare. I might, of course, be wrong. It happens to the best….
Summa summarum, what emerges is that (and please take a long breath before you read this) the writing of a letter is enough to have a priest suspended and his reputation provisionally tarnished the world over.
I must ask whether you think that the Holy Father would self suspend himself from his office if a letter should be posted to various Vatican congregations accusing him of some misconduct not relevant for the criminal law.
No, you say? Are you sure? Do you really think that before measures of this sort are introduced the accusations should have at least some external concordance, some additional elements inducing one to believe that the situation is worthy of serious investigation? You do? Mere common sense, I hear you say?
Alas, common sense seems not to live in ecclesiastical offices anymore, having left its place to an unholy terror of absolutely everything that might, by a deranged mind, be remotely considered a cover-up.
Now, Father Corapi – or everyone else for that matter – might in a purely hypothetical manner turn out to be Saddam’s secret son-in-law in charge for the ruthless torturing and killing of every missing person in the United States in the past two decades. But frankly, I don’t think that an ex colleague writing a letter and saying this should be sufficient, in itself and without any further element, to have him suspended.
As I have written often in the past, the Church is showing a will to self-flagellation slowly bordering on paranoia. It is high time that sanity takes the place of the current madness and this irrespective of the result of the investigations about Father Corapi (on whom I personally am ready to bet not one, but several pints until I read that there are concordances and further elements of suspicion besides a letter of a disgruntled employee, or of a scorned woman), but purely in order to put an end to a praxis that doesn’t afford any protection, any protection whatsoever to any priest with some degree of notoriety or even without any degree of notoriety but merely disliked by the one or other nutcase in his parish.
Mr. Archbold sums the current situation admirably:
My employer, also implicated in the suit, stuck by me and defended me until it was eventually dropped. Wrongfully accused priests no longer have this luxury
Time to wake up, folks.