At this point, I do not think that there is much to be quarrelled about.
I invite everyone reading this to first stop a minute and say a Hail Mary – or three – for a man who has done so much for so many and who, as one so dangerous for the Enemy, has been attacked with an energy commensurate to the good he has done. During my dinner I stopped shortly to pray for the poor chap, and couldn’t avoid wondering whether I would be able to resist such an attack. A shiver went down my spine. Miserere mei, Domine.
I hate using words like “do not judge” as I find that in modern times they are mainly used to condone or encourage scandal. I cannot – much as I always liked Father Corapi – close my eyes in front of the scandal, and the shame, and the damage for Catholicism. This is very bad, and will be remembered in decades to come. The only way for us is to resolve to pray more, and to pray better; to show the devil that his plan will not work; to pray for Father Corapi, and for all priests, who are predestined targets.
On the matter itself:
1. SOLT must be aware that they are now exposing themselves to be sued for libel for a huge amount of money if the information they have given proves grossly incorrect. As we can reasonably exclude this case, the only reasonable assumption now is that what was stated by Father Corapi’s order corresponds to the truth.
2. It is surprising – to say the least – that a priest can have lived together with what would appear to be his concubine, and abusing of alcohol and drugs, without his own religious order having any sensible control mechanism in place; something like unannounced visits, inspections, perhaps even blood tests, and the like. Without knowing much of the rules of the order, I’d dare to think that his superiors were and are responsible for his spiritual welfare, and that the past history of Father Corapi would have justified – the more so, because of his privileged but isolated position – precautionary measures “under obedience”. It is rather easy and relatively inexpensive to see whether someone takes drugs; it isn’t so difficult to make unannounced visits to see whether everything is all right; it is reasonable to expect that spiritual care is given. I might be biased here because I liked the man, but I think that this doesn’t reflect well on the SOLT, either.
3. Similarly, the accusations to Father Corapi of having violated his vote of poverty seem rather disingenuous. They must have known where he lived, and whether this was all right or not. Moreover, a visit to Father Corapi’s old internet page was enough to understand that this was a well-organised, lucrative business. Whatever violation there has been, the order can’t say that they didn’t know anything of it without looking, in the best of cases, very naive.
4. It is clear, though, that the results of the finding have surprised the SOLT. It is otherwise not to be explained how Fr Sheehan could say, only some two weeks ago, that the order would “take steps to protect his good name”. Evidently, at this point they still believed in his innocence.
5. With the benefit of hindsight, it is to this limited intelligence nothing less than astonishing how Father Corapi could attack in this way, when he must have known that the truth must come out. I have written in the past that his clearly combative attitude was rather an indication that he had nothing to hide, but that a person who has left behind emails and was even (as the neologism goes) “sexting” about his activities should think that he’ll get away with it frankly surpassed my powers of imagination. I now remember a similar case in Germany, many years ago, of a famous football manager accused of taking drugs and denying with everyone even after the police had taken a sample of his hair, and even the day before the publication of the results. Cocaine does this to people, some expert said afterwards. “Realitaetsverlust”, they said, “loss of [the sense of] reality”. We must pray for Father Corapi.
6. I truly hope that this unfortunate case does not give anyone an excuse to continue with the utterly senseless policy of suspending a priest by the first letter of accusation. The fact that in this case the priest does seem not to have been slandered is certainly not proof that such a policy is right. On the contrary, the fact that the truth has emerged so rapidly is a clear indication that the best course of action is to proceed speedily to investigation, but to leave the priest in office until the conclusion of the investigation, as the bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi wisely suggests. Once again, here no misconduct with children was alleged.
7. This might seem a fussy remark, but I still do not understand how an accusation of drugs taking might not be a matter for an official police investigation. To take drugs is illegal in Montana, surely?
8. At the cost of being superfluous: the Church is more than one, or one thousand, Father Corapi of either the good or the troubled sort. The Truths that Father Corapi has so eloquently defended remain just as true today as they always were. Our allegiance is to Christ and to His Church.
9. To close on a chilly note: the disquieting black sheepdog with the lambs in his eyes has shown his true identity.That’s good for another shiver. We must pray.
I dread Father Corapi’s reply now. I dread even more the reaction of his (as it was unwisely said) “fan base”. It is truly time to accept the reality on the ground and start praying for him.
The best course for him would certainly be to leave all this mess behind him, go back to the order (or perhaps, to another order) and try to put his life in order again, away from the lures of sex, drugs, money, and fame. He found the energies the first time, he might find them a second one.
Almost time to go to bed. My Rosary is for him. I liked his ways, and his being so different from the toothless pussycats we see too often around us.
I hope that today, a huge number of prayers will go up to heaven for him.
There are further news in the Corapi affair; they merit, in my eyes, some consideration.
A) THE NEWS
Father Gerhard Sheehan of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), and Father Corapi’s superior, has released some information about the Corapi Matter.
The new information is as follows:
1) Pending the investigation, Father Corapi sued the employee accusing him because of breach of the non-disclosure agreement the latter had signed. This is, as Father Sheehan points out, perfectly legal and it is in the full right of Father Corapi to do so, civilly as well as canonically.
2) Father Corapi’s civil legal action greatly complicated the canonical enquiry, as the possibility of the accuser talking without pressure was now compromised.
3) This led to a situation whereby the canonical enquiry would continue to go on, but would become much slower as a consequence of the legal civil action. Thus, the expectation of a long-drawn procedure. Thus, Corapi’s decision to quit.
This points out, in my eyes, to the following:
a) Father Corapi doesn’t seem to have much to be ashamed about, or to be afraid of. This speaks, in my eyes, for his innocence; a priest in a vulnerable position wouldn’t counter-attack his attacker in such a determined way. The man is, undoubtedly, a resolute one and the reaction is, I would dare to say, the reaction of a person who feels very badly wronged. I might be wrong on this, of course.
b) Father Corapi was not disobedient in starting the civil proceedings. Still, he was disingenuous in not telling in his message that it was his civil action which created the concrete prospective of a long-drawn procedure in the first place. As I have said in my previous message, his “pardoning” her is not to be seen in a legal context. I don’t blame him for that, mind, but I don’t think it was all right not to tell that it was his decision to start civil proceedings to complicate matters.
c) In my eyes, the real problem of this situation is that Corapi was put on administrative leave in the first place. If this had not happened, the civil action would have taken its course, the canonical action would have taken his, and how long does it take for both wouldn’t have been really relevant.
d) If you ask me, this “zero-intelligence” policy must stop at once.
Please also note that Father Sheehan is, once again, supportive of Corapi. Not only did he release a statement stressing his innocent until proved guilty, but he now points out that the order will “take steps to protect his good name”. This seems to me to be – particularly in the present juncture – more than words of circumstance.
B) THE DIOCESE
The Diocese of Corpus Christ has – astonishingly – released a statement saying that Corapi’s case is outside of the Diocese’s jurisdiction and that SOLT authorities had initiated the action to temporarily remove him from active ministry. This is more than odd, as Corapi never says a word against Sheehan but heavily criticises Bishop William Mulvey of Corpus Christi.
One can only conjecture that Corapi thinks that pressure from the Bishop has forced the Order to start the proceedings, which case seems rather likely to me. If the Bishop thinks that he is not competent, he could simply release a statement expressing the thought that in his eyes the administrative leave was not the thing to do, thus freeing the way for its removal. The SOLT does not seem to have any “papal privilege”, and the Diocese of Corpus Christi appears to be responsible for them.
C) THE MATTER WITH THE MONEY
Father Sheehan has also made public that the order was taking steps to align those members who had entered the order before 1994 (including Corapi) to those who have entered the order after 1994. The latter must put all their income in a common pot (not unlike the Oratorians, say) and they receive an allowance from the Order. Besides – and very relevantly – it was planned to ask Father Corapi to relinquish the exception granted to him by Sheehan’s predecessor and to demand that he lives together with the other members of the orders instead of living separately in Montana, as he was doing.
It seems clear here once again that money does play a role in this matter. It must have been clear to Corapi that in the long-term he would have to either give away the proceeds of his activity or, if such a possibility exists, ask to be moved to a different order (a rare occurrence, but certainly not unheard of) with rules more similar to his old regime. Also, the adherence to the “new” code of discipline of 1994 would have meant the end of that freedom of movement and ability to live as a “lone wolf” that has been a mark of his activity.
If I may, my closing reflections are as follows:
As to A)
This newer praxis of automatic suspension pending canonical investigation is so stupid as to be totally indefensible. Again, “zero intelligence” describes it best. I truly, truly hope that someone in Rome will see the light and start doing things in a sensible way. This didn’t involve any accusation of child abuse. This didn’t even involve any accusation of criminal offence. The great Franz Kafka would have liked this story and if you read his beautiful “The Trial”, you’ll find more than some similarities.
As to B)
The diocese of Corpus Christi should, in my eyes, tell very clearly whether they stay behind the current praxis of immediate suspension, and whether they were – even if not directly competent – indirectly responsible for Father Corapi’s suspension.
As to C)
Frankly I cannot imagine that, together with a certainly cherished freedom of action, the purely economic aspect of the business (bluntly: the dough) doesn’t play a role in this. Of course, Father Corapi has been all this time in compliance with the order’s rules and of course, he is perfectly free not to like the new rules. But I can’t see how this could even remotely justify his leaving the clerical garb. The lure of money has already seriously damaged the good man once, and I see here the clear possibility that it might have done so a second time. Too “entrepreneurial” is Corapi, too “marketing oriented” his activity, too aggressive his selling endeavours to imagine that this is merely a secondary matter, to be immediately discarded if his order so requires.
The order will soon release a statement and I will comment on it as soon as it happens.
To conclude, let me remind you of how necessary it is that we keep Father Corapi in our prayers but at the same time, that we never lose sight of the Church and of the importance of Holy Orders.
I have endeavoured to give a balanced reporting on matters which interest all of us as faithful, and impinge on the reputation and prestige of the Church. At the same time, I do not think that a scandal like this (because this it is, without every possibility of downplaying it, when a priest decides to throw away his clerical garb) should be covered under a blanket of silence.
He needs our prayers, and the Church needs that we don’t make of him a cult, or a church, or an occasion of sin.
I think that he is a man of strong character, and rather strong-headed, who feels badly wronged and reacts inordinately. I also think that his love of success, popularity, and money is so closely intertwined with his sincere Christian heart as to make him think that the unacceptable – leaving the priesthood – be a justifiable move.
I believe in his good heart and sincere intention; but make no mistake, this is no Padre Pio.