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Father Corapi will not obey order to return to community

Catholic World News - July 08, 2011

Father John Corapi has announced that he will not obey the order from his superior in the Society of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity (SOLT) to leave his private Montana compound and live with other members of the community.

In a stinging public statement released July 5, Father Gerard Sheehan, SOLT’s regional priest servant, had announced that the popular preacher and television personality is not “fit for ministry” and revealed that an investigation of Corapi’s affairs found a pattern of misconduct, including sexual relations and cohabitation with a woman, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and embrace of a luxurious lifestyle that was “a serious violation of his promise of poverty.” SOLT ordered Father 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.”

In his response, Father Corapi said that “if I were to commit to the suggestion of the Society, then I would essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die.” He added, “I resigned [from priestly ministry] because the process used by the Church is grossly unjust, and, hence, immoral. I resigned because I had no chance from the beginning of a fair and just hearing. As I have indicated from the beginning of all this, I am not extinguished!”

Father Corapi also defended his lifestyle, stating that “the Founder of the Society of Our Lady, Fr. James Flanagan, encouraged me to support myself and the Church as well. He said they could not afford to support my ministry and me personally because of the unique nature of the mission. At every step of the way, through the entire past 20 years, the Society of Our Lady’s leadership knew of my financial independence … I have never relied on the Society for shelter, clothing, transportation, medical care, or legal counsel and instead, using my history of success in business, set up my mission as any savvy business man would, meanwhile continuing to support the Society and many other Catholic Charities.”

Commenting on the allegation of sexual impropriety, Father Corapi said that “this song of greed has been sung many times before. I have never had any promiscuous or even inappropriate relations with her. Never.”

“I never paid anybody off to remain silent,” he continued. “On two occasions there were standard severance agreements executed with former employees and independent contractors. These agreements contained very common non-disclosure provisions. Any attorney who would not include such provisions in such agreements would rightly be guilty of negligent and actionable conduct.”

Father Sam Medley, webmaster of the Society of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, attributed the scandal to a lack of fidelity to the society’s charism. “This whole Corapi conundrum would have never happened if we would have been faithful to our SOLT Charism of ecclesial teams-communion,” he said.

Father Medley added:

“I was asked years ago by my superiors if John Corapi could come and work in the community life of the media apostolate I was running at the time,” Father Medley recounted. “YES, I cried! Please bring him back to community life! Canon law tells us that no one from a community should live outside for an extended period of time. This would have also meant the regulation of his bank account and other violations would have been remedied. Sadly this didn't happen.”

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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: New Sister - Jul. 10, 2011 12:45 PM ET USA

    I can't fathom how any priest would choose to walk away from the awesome privilege of licitly offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (whether "under a 'rock'" or otherwise). Far worse than the sins is the lack of faith such a decision points to!!

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 08, 2011 4:47 PM ET USA

    Fr. Corapi does not want to live under a rock and Fr. Francis Mary Stone decided he would no longer live "life on the rock." One wonders if there is something to this aversion to rocks. Perhaps it is a metaphor for something more disturbing. Prudence is one of the cardinal virtues for a reason. The stuffy old clerical disciplines of the past might have served some real purpose after all. The kindler, gentler, more relaxed conciliar approach has not worked out too well over recent decades.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jul. 08, 2011 4:11 PM ET USA

    As I have said elsewhere, Fr.Corapi will have a great lead if he ever gets sober and makes it to AA/NA.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Jul. 08, 2011 1:10 PM ET USA

    Fr. Sheehan lobs off this bombshell and then goes incommunicado for almost 3 weeks: "Father Sheehan will not be available for comments as he is attending the SOLT General Chapter from July 5-23." This does not come across as "transparency." Sorry to say it, but from a PR standpoint, he has shot himself in the foot. Very little can be said with certainty about this sad event except: This situation will not have blown over by July 23.

  • Posted by: Gaby - Jul. 08, 2011 1:06 PM ET USA

    Being a huge fan of Fr Corapi, I didn't want to believe these charges at first, and even later. But the more he tries to defend himself, the more guilty he sounds. The process used by the Church is unjust & therefore "immoral"?!? No, it's just human. A real priest would have given it a chance, first. Life in a religious community is like "crawling under a rock & waiting to die"?!?! Tell it to Terese de Lisieux, Padre Pio or Thomas Aquinas!! "I am not extinguished!" How egocentric! Not good.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Jul. 08, 2011 11:17 AM ET USA

    " . . . I would essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die." I don't want to "pile on" to Fr. Corapi, but this statement evinces a very defective understanding of our life's principal task: increasing sanctity. Our worldly circumstances are surely secondary to this aim. Holiness can indeed be achieved "under a rock" - perhaps even more so.

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