Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Well Reasoned and Balanced Appraisal of the Father John Corapi Case

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of the diocese of Corpus Christi, presents an appraisal of the Father Corapi case, written by John Stevens:

Posted on July 12, 2011 by abyssum

The below are my comments on the situation of Fr. Corapi regarding the charges that have been leveled against him. I may appear uncharitable in places as that is a weakness that I struggle with. I have tried to convey my thoughts as charitably as I am able. Please forgive me if I have failed to do this in any way.

John Stevens

I am one who still supports Fr. Corapi. I do not adulate people no matter who they are. I do not place Fr. Corapi on a pedestal. But for God’s grace he is capable of anything. I would like to offer a number of things for consideration. They may not be in order.

1) The accuser of Fr. Corapi is his god daughter. He has said for a long time that she needs prayer because she and her husband have been struggling with drug addiction for many years. He commented on this during his conference in San Antonio in August, 2010. He may have commented on this even earlier. He said he has tried to help them overcome their problems and that they need help. If you read the lawsuit he has filed against her you will see that the confidentiality statement is quite appropriate for the circumstances. She lists in her LinkedIn profile that she is the owner of Santa Cruz Media and also has tried to take his copyrighted moniker “The Black Sheep Dog” as her own. This is theft. Fr. Corapi has a right to sue her for protection of his property. If she has lied, he also has a right to sue her for damage to his good name. Many have claimed that the $100,000 she has received is hush money to keep her quiet. This is not at all clear. As she is his god daughter, he has tried desperately to help them over the years. I am sure this includes, but is not limited to, financial compensation.

2) Fr. Corapi initially said he would co-operate with the investigation despite disagreeing with the process. Bishop Rene Gracida advised him that he could not clear his name through the canonical process in the Diocese of Corpus Christi and suggested he proceed civilly. On that basis Fr. Corapi filed the suit. Depending on the diocese the canonical process may or may not work. In my opinion, Bishop Gracida is one of the best bishops we have had in the U.S. in many years. Someone I know asked Fr. John Hardon back around 2001 AD what he thought of the condition of the hierarchy in the U.S. Fr. Hardon responded that he thought there were about 6 bishops that were 100% faithful to the teachings of the Church. He felt there were about 40 bishops that were pretty much faithful to the teachings of the Church. Fr. Hardon then said that he considered the rest to be ‘non-believers’. I would consider Bishop Gracida to be one of the 6. Well, the hierarchy in the U.S. has definitely improved since 2001 but it is obvious that there is a lot rot still existing in places.

3) Read closely everything that Bishop Gracida has had to say. He definitely does not appear to be distancing himself from Fr. Corapi as some bloggers have suggested. As a good bishop, he has stated correctly that he does not have personal knowledge of the particulars of the charges against Fr. Corapi. He continues to state that what the Diocese of Corpus Christi and SOLT have done is wrong. By saying that he had hopefully placed his last post on the matter he was saying that he would not participate in the back and forth fighting that is going on between those who either support or oppose Fr. Corapi.

4) I have a problem with some of the statements by SOLT. Fr. Sheehan stated in NCR that Fr. Corapi was suspended in accordance with Canon Law. I could not find any statute that would mandate such action. I wrote to Fr. Sheehan and he sent me a response referring to statute 1722. Well, the local bishop can do pretty much whatever he wants, but statute 1722 does not call for suspension as it occurred with Fr. Corapi. I think Bishop Gracida has also indicated this was wrong. One of the problems we have had over the last 40 years or so is that heterodox prelates have used obedience as a hammer to destroy orthodox priests. A reading of the Catholic Encyclopedia on ‘Religious Obedience’ would be very instructive. This obedience is not absolute and its application to Fr. Corapi’s case is confusing at best. There is the example of St. Padre Pio who submitted to injustice and lies in all humility. There is tremendous grace in this approach. Then there is the approach of directly fighting lies and injustice. Fr. Corapi is a fighter and this is the approach he seems to be taking. It doesn’t sit well with those who would seek to silence him. My initial reaction has been that the Padre Pio approach is preferred but Bishop Gracida seems to support Fr. Corapi’s approach. Due to the fact that I consider Bishop Gracida one of the finest prelates we have ever had, I reserve judgement.

5) It is not at all clear that SOLT has ordered Fr. Corapi back to headquarters prior to their recent statement. In NCR in April, Fr. Sheehan had talked about the original arrangement with Fr. Corapi and other priests prior to 1994 where they were expected to provide for themselves. He stated that the constitution had since changed. New priests were now provided for by SOLT. Fr. Sheehan said that they were looking at ways to bring the older priests under the new constitution. In the same statement he said that they never realized that Fr. Corapi’s ministry would become so profitable. That last part speaks volumes. SOLT was interested in bringing Fr. Corapi’s ministry in house although his statements seem to suggest that they were looking at their options in this matter (reconciling priests who were not under the new constitution). In my opinion, that would have been a good thing for Fr. Corapi’s spiritual development. However, I think SOLT should have been more forth right about their motivations. I am sure it was for his spiritual well being but the money was also on Fr. Sheehan’s mind.

6) I don’t believe that SOLT had required Fr. Corapi to return prior to his suspension. Fr. Sam Medly stated that he was trying to get his superiors to demand this but that his requests were not acted upon. In late June Fr. Sheehan stated in NCR that he was disappointed that Fr. Corapi had decided to resign but that SOLT would assist him in this transition – all the while taking care to protect his good name. Barely a week later Fr. Sheehan issued his statement declaring that Fr. Corapi was guilty of abusing alcohol and drugs, sexting, cohabitation, sacramental abuse, and that he was unfit for ministry. Fr. Sheehan stated that contemporaneously with the release of his July 5th statement he was demanding that Fr. Corapi return under obedience and drop the

lawsuit. It seems that this was the first demand under obedience that was made. It may, or may not , have been suggested earlier. It certainly wasn’t demanded as Fr. Medley indicated in his statements. It is my feeling that Fr. Corapi would have been required, under obedience, to obey a demand for his return to headquarters before the accusations and suspension occurred. So as to protect his civil rights, I do not believe he is required, under obedience, to obey the demand at this time.

7) In late June Fr. Sheehan promised to do all possible to protect Fr. Corapi’s good name. On July 5th he and Fr. Medley participated in a serious violation of the Eighth Commandment by detraction against Fr. Corapi’s good name. Whether the accusations are true or not – SOLT had no business as a Catholic society in making such information public. You talk about saying one thing and doing another.

8) Some have criticized Fr. Corapi for bragging by always telling his story about his past and conversion. With all the adulation that many give to Father I agree that he must always be cautious about pride and I suspect that he struggles (not always successfully) with this. However, Father is not always bragging about his past. He mentions it frequently but not always. I maintain that it is a necessary part of his ministry. Many in our society (including modernist Catholics) think that having vast wealth, sex with beautiful movie stars, moving in prestigious circles, etc. is the equivalent of going to heaven. They would give anything for that life. Well, Fr. Corapi was able to tell them that he had been there and done that. It left him totally unfulfilled and ultimately destitute, homeless, and nearly dead on the street, completely deserted by all the beautiful people who couldn’t care less whether he lived or died. Father was able to speak from experience that fulfillment was in surrender to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and not to the lures of Satan. Few were able to convey this message as well as he.

9) Despite claiming to be objective and praying for Father Corapi, most bloggers who have their writings posted on New Advent have almost salivated at any opportunity to cast aspersion on Father from the beginning. A few bloggers have tuned down their rhetoric and become more charitable. However, many of the bloggers continue to role in the mud. One has claimed that he never had anything bad to say about Fr. Corapi until he resigned in June. However, in April he was claiming that the accused was the only one acting appropriately and that the VP at Santa Cruz Media was just a fetch bucket for Fr. Corapi. They do Catholic discourse a serious injustice.

10) Regarding Father’s appearance – age and poor health will definitely change one from looking young and vibrant into one who looks old and on the downside of life. It is what it is. I have no idea why he now dyes his beard. Perhaps it is a vain attempt to offset the ravages of time. Haven’t we all been a little vain at times? Regarding his tan I can speak with authority. I am an expert in health and wellness. Father suffered from severe vitamin D deficiency which has devastating effects on one’s health. The best remedy for D deficiency is a lot of sun exposure. He understandably enlisted the aid of a personal trainer to help restore his wasted health and physical condition. However, I do believe his choice of a female trainer was problematic.

11) Father Corapi’s wealthy lifestyle has been known by SOLT for some time. There is no evidence that SOLT has done much to correct it until very recently. I am being somewhat uncharitable in speculating but I wonder whether the recent large settlement that SOLT made could have anything to do with the recent interest in the wealth of his ministry? I certainly don’t know the answer to this but it does seem to be a coincidence. Certainly a wealthy lifestyle is not conducive to his spiritual growth. Fr. Corapi should consider this.

12) It seems that the problem appears to coincide with the arrival of Bishop Mulvey in Corpus Christi. I don’t know much about Bishop Mulvey but it was he that demanded that Fr. Corapi be suspended (which was not mandated by Canon Law). Bishop Mulvey has ultimate authority but he was not following the directives of Canon Law in suspending Fr. Corapi in my opinion. I suspect he may not appreciate Fr. Corapi’s style or orthodoxy and felt he could bury Father with this. If true, the accusations by Father’s god daughter were fortuitous for Bishop Mulvey or anyone who might have wanted to silence Fr. Corapi. Perhaps this is why Bishop Gracida felt that he could not clear his name in the canonical structure within the Corpus Christi diocese.

13) When these charges were first made, Bishop Mulvey / SOLT could have demanded that Fr. Corapi take a drug test and a lie detector test. They could have requested (but not demanded) that his accuser do the same. Based on the results of these tests it could have been quickly determined whether any of these charges were credible or not. If credible, an investigation could have been launched under Canon Law giving Fr. Corapi an opportunity to defend himself. Depending on the outcome of the investigation Father might then have been suspended. If the charges were found to not be credible they should have been immediately discarded.

14) Time will tell if Father Corapi will have a ministry in the Church or not. At this time I believe Fr. Corapi. I believe he is capable of everything he is accused of. Father has categorically denied the charges. He has moral weaknesses but I cannot believe he would so publicly lie about everything. That would be destroying the character of others to maintain his standing. I tend to be a good judge of character and I cannot believe he would do that. If Father is lying then he desperately needs help and we should pray all the more for his immortal soul. I would not follow his ministry in the future if I found him to be lying although I would listen to his past lectures that are filled with orthodoxy. I could continue to follow Father if he sinned, but not if he continued to sin and proceeded to maintain a lie about it. Personally, I don’t care for the new title or the leather jacket but that is just my preference. Saints sin and seek reconciliation through God’s mercy. The reprobate live in sin and call God’s justice upon themselves.

15) Several responders to Fr. Medley’s blog suggested that Fr. Corapi was contributing to the support of SOLT. Fr. Medley replied that Fr. Corapi had never contributed anything to SOLT except for several projects which he had sponsored. (?????) I am confused. I guess he means that Fr. Corapi never supported SOLT, except for when he did. Well, I never told my children that I loved them, except for when I did, which was every day.

16) Several people were confused by Fr. Sheehan’s statement asking Fr. Corapi to please not foreclose on his mortgage. They asked Fr. Medley if that meant that Fr. Corapi held the mortgage on SOLT property and Fr. Sheehan was asking him not to start foreclosure on it. Fr. Medley replied that this was not the case, Fr. Corapi did not hold the mortgage on any SOLT property, and that Fr. Sheehan was simply indicating a reason why Father would need so much money – to pay for his expensive mortgage. I have a difficult time interpreting Fr. Sheehan’s statement in this light, but if it is an accurate reflection of what he was saying then he was being very sarcastic. The tone seems to suggest one who is either angry or hurt who is trying to get back at the person who has caused this anger or hurt.

17) We are told that ‘by their fruits we will know them’. Thus far I have not seen any good fruit coming out of this either by Fr. Corapi or by SOLT or the Diocese of Corpus Christi. I have also not seen any good fruit coming from Father’s accuser or the Catholic blogoshere either. Time will tell if Fr. Corapi has taken the right step and will produce good fruit. If he is able to reach a wider audience with sound, orthodox Catholic doctrine then the fruits will be there. If he becomes more of a political commentator then we will know that we are seeing bad fruit. Our salvation is not in politics or any political party. I pray that Fr. Corapi will continue to produce good fruit.

18) We Catholics need to quit attacking each other (I have been as guilty as anyone else). Let’s just pray for the eternal salvation of everyone involved. Ultimately, that is the only thing that counts.

John Stevens July 11, 2011

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1 comment:

Tara said...

Thanks for posting this Vincenzo--there are always two sides of the story.