Mercy and Forgiveness for Fr. Corapi and His Fans

So the craziness from last week had died down as the True Believers moved on from assailing my emailbox with denunciations and demands that I stop questioning the veracity of a Living Saint. Again and again, I was told that I Must Not Judge the fruits of a man who expects us all to take his word for it that his bishop is a blackmailer and a libeler and that his accuser is, trust him, a vicious drunk, an extortionist, and a liar. Indeed, so passionate has been the concern for Not Judging on the part of ASCII mystics and psychoanalysts that I have received countless diagnoses of the deepest working of my soul explaining to me my dark motivations for expressing my distrust of his bizarre words and deeds.

Turns out I have borne a grudge against Fr. Corapi for years, according to some readers. I have hated his orthodoxy, according to others. Still others inform me that I burn with envy for his riches. We must not forget that Pride is also a huge motivating factor since he has racked up far more convert scalps than I have, a fact which (I am told) fills me with cold jealous fury. According to some, I am likewise filled with jealousy for his manliness and I am secretly a homosexual (or at least fellow traveler), a fact proven by my once having lunched with Fr. Sirico.

You learn a lot about yourself from total strangers on the Internet.

In point of fact, I have, until the past three months or so, never paid any attention to Fr. Corapi, much less had some burning grudge against him. I’ve never seen him on TV since our set only talks to the DVD player. I’ve heard him on the radio now and then, but couldn’t tell you five words he ever said. I took him for a powerful preacher who was doing God’s work, but he never scratched where I itched and I was basically oblivious to him. Now and then, people would send me something about him being sick or getting well or doing something or other in their area and I would duly post the info since I figured we’re all on the same team. Beyond that, he just didn’t register on my consciousness.

Indeed, even after the story broke in March, my basic attitude was, “We don’t know anything, so how about we all mind our own business?” This project I quickly undertook and went back to ignoring him since I had other things to do.

It was only when he abandoned the priesthood, began baselessly slandering his bishop as a blackmailer and libeller, and began to make clear that his promise of cooperation with his superiors was complete bushwah that I began to balk loudly–and became louder still as his fans began to make it clear that in a choice between the Church and the Black Sheepdog, they would follow the BS. That’s when the klaxons really went off and I started to wonder “Who is this guy and why do people risk their souls for him?” When I started to look, not at his accuser’s claims (about which I knew nothing for sure), but at the BS’ own words and what he said about himself, his “cooperation” with his superiors, and his alleged Special Forces training, and the non-evidence for his claims, it quickly became apparent to me that he gave every sign of being a fabulist of the first rank and that it would be crazy to believe a word about any of his other claims without verification.

Meanwhile, his minions, crazily believing everything he said and following his heavy and obvious hints about the identity of his accuser promptly acted on these hints and exposed his accuser publically for the express purpose of dragging her name through the mud on the internet (in the BS’ very comboxes) all while this Shepherd of Souls and Protector of the Sheep stood by and did nothing to restrain his fans who were so terribly concerned with Not Judging. Indeed, it was only the saner members of his fanbase who were able to restrain him from his threat to publish private recordings of his accuser on the web: a novel method of pastoral care of souls, I must say.

Still it’s understandable, I suppose, the Fr. Corapi could not find the time to rein in his fans as they conducted an Internet trial of his accuser since he did have a lot on his plate, composing his latest piece of grandiosity in which he quotes the great Catholic spiritual master Dave Grossman’s seminal work “On Killing” (of which more in a moment).

The point of the piece seems to be to continue the phony “Special Forces Hero” persona Fr. Corapi has constructed and edited over the years. In 1999, his press release stated that he was “a member of the prestigious Green Berets“. However, when that was revealed to be bushwah, the tale changed to a fabulism about being 4F but still making it into SF, training in Georgia (no record of this), solo night drops into the Okeefenokee swamp (ditto), eating raw snake, finishing Special Forces training (ditto), the Tragic Yet Providential injury in Panama (ditto) with 50% of his right shoulder destroyed (ditto). Apparently he injured the same shoulder that made him 4F because he was also, wonder of wonders, a football hero, as well as a Black Belt. And, of course, there is the sad and convenient tale of his whole SF team all dying in Vietnam while he alone survived so that God could make him the Green Beret for Christ (again, no evidence of this at all).

And yet, you can hear him tell the whole yarn starting at 21:10 or so:

Now the problem with this Special Forces story and persona is that it is, I am persuaded, completely phony. In addition to being an insult to this man and many others like him:

…it is also an insult and a delusion to the people, still in his comboxes and FB pages, who imagine they are following their Brave Spiritual Captain into spiritual combat against the Powers of Darkness when, in fact, they are getting conned by a flim flam man who is transparently trying to turn them against those investigating him.

The Special Forces bunkum matters because it is a huge part of the mystique he holds for his poor deluded “fans”. In fact, there’s simply no evidence for it beyond Fr. Corapi’s shifting word and sensible people realize this, having just seen the documentable fact that he claimed he was going to “certainly cooperate” with the investigation when he in fact blocked the investigation first with a civil suit and then by abandoning his priesthood (while still claiming some right to preach).

His “fans”, on the other hand, uncritically swallowing the Big Fish Story of his dramatic past, continue to credit his highly dubious word and rage against those of us who don’t. These are the folks who say, “Here’s some ambiguous detail in his record that might, with sufficient squinting, be interpreted as possibly having something to do with possibly starting some sort of training that could conceivably be related to Special Forces/Green Beret training”.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are instead asking, “Where’s the beef?” Beyond Fr. Corapi’s say so, what evidence do we have for his Special Forces Training claims much less that he finished that training? And therefore, what reason have we to pay any further attention to his strange passive-aggressive bluster against the Shadowy Forces of Evil (what forces? where? in the episcopacy? exactly who does he mean?) against which he claims to protect us all? Aside from the word of the exceedingly gullible Michael Voris, what reason have we to suppose this whole narrative of Brave Truthteller Priest vs. Sinister Liberal Conspiracy bears any relation to reality?

In short, I see no reason to credit a word Fr. Corapi says that is not a direct quotation from the Catechism or the Bible and plenty of reason to warn suckers from being suckered any further by the BS. Particularly when he posts yet another very creepy bulletin to his dwindling pool of “fans” which quotes Grossman:

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then: A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed

Because, as Jesus teaches us in the Our Father, “Lead us into the heart of darkness, for we are so butch and manly we can come through unscathed”.
Sound Catholic teaching that.

The BS then concludes in his own words:

In twenty years of preaching and teaching in the Catholic Church I ran into many who should know better that did not believe that wolves existed and that there was no need for sheepdogs. They scoffed at the idea of either. They are not leaders, they are delusional oxygen thieves—taking up the space and breathing the air that a real leader should occupy fill.

If there’s anything Christianity is clearly about, it is the fact that untermenschen like delusional oxygen thieves and the rest of the Weak need to get out of the way so that the Nietzschean Real Leaders can rule.

Fr. Corapi’s vainglory appears to be in a horserace with some strange and dark impulses as he suggests that the “oxygen thieves” to whom he is theoretically in submission must step aside so that a really Manly Man Leader of Christ’s Special Forces can save the sheep. Is he proposing euthanasia for our unmanly bishops? Because that’s what “oxygen thief” means, you know: Stop breathing.

Meanwhile the question naturally arises: how does Fr. Corapi, our savior from the delusional oxygen thieves, prove his Special Forces manly manliness and worthiness to Really Lead? Why, by going AWOL on his priesthood, dyeing his goatee, offering vague slurs of shadowy powers in leadership (one presumes he means some bishop or other, but perhaps his manliness forbids him to be clear)–and stirring his fans to rebellion against these delusional oxygen thieves. Who could not trust that?

And his fans, awash in righteous testosterone and eager to fight the shadowy forces of evil against which the BS rallies them, are hearing the call. Over on Facebook, the crazies are responding to this phony Special Forces Trooper for the Prince of Peace schtick with such immortal words as:

“Sheepdog-here-not for violence but if that’s what you want i’m there”

and

“‎.380 inside the belt…Remington 870 in the truck…and your inspiration in my heart.”

(9 people liked that one on FB.) However, what particularly cracked me up was the nice person who said that we need to give Fr. Corapi “the benefit of the doubt” only to be ferociously denounced as a traitor to this Living Saint for suggesting that there could possibly *be* any doubt about the stainless sinlessness of Fr. Corapi.

Pass the Kool-Aid.

Now you can’t argue with Crazy. But I have to believe that, among the sane and among those late to this party, Fr. Corapi’s grotesque distortions of the tattered remains of his preaching ministry into Right Wing Noise Machine pablum have to be engendering second thoughts.

I think this particularly in light of the fact that SOLT has, even as I was writing this, just released the following statement:

Father John A. Corapi submitted his resignation from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) early in June. SOLT is a society of apostolic life of diocesan right with its regional office in Robstown, Texas.

While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Father John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Father Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.

A woman, well known to Father John Corapi, mailed SOLT a signed letter detailing allegations of Father Corapi’s sexual activity with adult women, abuse of alcohol and drugs, improper sacramental practices, violation of his promise of poverty and other wrongdoing.

After receiving the allegation, SOLT formed a three-person fact-finding team to ensure that it handled this matter in accordance with canonical norms. The team included a priest-canonist, a psychiatrist and a lawyer.

Two were members of religious orders, and one was a lay Catholic. Two were men, and one was a woman. All three have national reputations and substantial experience in ecclesiastical processes related to priest disciplinary issues.

As the society was engaging this team, Father Corapi filed a civil lawsuit against his principal accuser. He contended that she had defamed him and breached her contract. The contract, according to [Father] Corapi’s lawsuit, contained a provision binding the woman to silence about him. He offered the woman $100,000 to enter this agreement.

SOLT’s fact-finding team subsequently learned that Father Corapi may have negotiated contracts with other key witnesses that precluded them from speaking with SOLT’s fact-finding team. Many of these witnesses likely had key information about the accusations being investigated and declined to answer questions and provide documents.

When the fact-finding team asked Father Corapi to dismiss the lawsuit, to forbear from foreclosing his mortgage, and to release her and other individuals from their contractual obligations to remain silent about him, he refused to do so and, through his canonical advocate, stated: “It is not possible for Father Corapi to answer the commission’s questions at this time.”

SOLT’s fact-finding team has acquired information from Father Corapi’s emails, various witnesses and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

— He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute.

— He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs.

— He has recently engaged in “sexting” activity with one or more women in Montana.

— He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the society.

SOLT has contemporaneously, with the issuance of this press release, directed Father John 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.

SOLT’s prior direction to Father John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues. Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Father John Corapi as fit for ministry.

Father Sheehan will not be available for comments, as he is attending the SOLT General Chapter from July 5-23.

After this, I reckon those second thoughts will finally reach fruition in all but the most obtuse minds and hearts. The people who have hitherto divided their time between drinking the Kool-Aid and making fools of themselves denouncing whistleblowers with playground epithets like the “Deacon’s Stench”, the “Cankeress” and “Jimmy McFakin” will finally realize that Fr. Corapi has been playing them for suckers. When that happens, there is bound to be a reaction among his “fans”, not only to the Black Sheepdog but to themselves for being so badly played. The very people who have been most vocal in viciously attacking the whistleblowers may, in embarrassment over their nastiness, viciously attack Fr. Corapi and themselves in remorse.

To them I say: Remember that Fr. Corapi is just a human being, made of flesh and blood like the rest of us and as liable to sin as the rest of us. He is not the epitome of evil or some devil in human form. He is a man who has succumbed to temptation and failed. Up till now, my primary goal has been to get people to see that lest they be harmed by trusting him. But now that (as I trust) most people are coming to realize he is not trustworthy and, indeed, unfit for the priesthood, what I think will become most important is that people not whipsaw from mindless adoration to mindless rage. So he’s a sinner. That is news why? What he needs is the repentance to receive mercy from God and from the people he has deceived. That doesn’t mean you have to pretend he has not sinned gravely. It does not mean you cannot name his sins for what they are. It doesn’t mean you have to pretend he is trustworthy. It does not mean you can make him receive your forgiveness(and there seems to be no acknowledgement by him thus far of any actual wrongdoing).

But you can and must nonetheless extend forgiveness in the hope that he will eventually repent of the trap he has built for himself. God is yet powerful to save and your willingness to extend forgiveness will free you from anger, whether or not Fr. Corapi ever acknowledges his need for it. Remember the words of Christ: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). There’s nothing in there about the person to whom you extend forgiveness saying “Sorry”. It’s good if they do (and they can only receive the forgiveness you extend if they admit they need it). But for our part, the forgiveness is to be extended whether or not the person who has sinned against us ever admits his sin. God makes the final assizes, of course. But for that very reason, we do not. So we forgive and let God sort it out.

For that same reason, let me also add, for the benefit of all Fr. Corapi’s fans–who have sent me staggering loads of hate mail this week that rivals some of the most bitter invective from the Old Testament and who have poured out a very impressive quantity of abuse, accusation, soul-reading, malice, insults and scorn–that I forgive you and urge you to remember that you are but flesh and blood too, like me.

Happily, I have a constitution that allows me not to lay awake at night about nasty insults–so long as I know the person offering the insult doesn’t know what they are talking about and the barb doesn’t hit some place in my conscience that says, “He has a point you know.” Those insults really bug me. But insults from ignorami don’t much faze me because, well, they don’t know what they are talking about. So while I won’t lie to you and say I have particularly enjoyed the vast flood of hate mail I got last week from the psychoanalyzers and mystics who insisted on diagnosing my “real” motives, neither am I going to lie and say that I lost any sleep while people who had no idea what they were talking about held forth on they knew not what. By the same token, the fact that a lot of loudmouthed ignorami failed to land a punch does not mean that they didn’t try. With sin, it’s the thought that counts. So I am not going to insult your intelligence and mine by pretending that those who hurled invective “meant well” either.

So, for instance, let us suppose somebody with the unlikely name “Michael Voris” stupidly and maliciously suggests (but never quite has the stones to say) that I (and other people whom I regard as good and honorable Catholics) are “disgusting”, “self-righteous”, “backbiting” and overt hypocrites for expressing our skepticism about Fr. Corapi’s attacks on his superiors, all while running a vidcast that is about almost nothing but self-righteous backbiting. Let us suppose he then uses that vidcast to wade into a controversy about which he knows nothing in order to back the wrong side in a spectacularly ignorant rant while vilifying honorable Catholics whose honest concern was for the welfare of the Church and not some desire to assist a shadowy liberal conspiracy to destroy a Brave Truthtelling Priest. Should such a silly thing happen, I will not embarrass you by pretending that “Voris did his best” or “he meant no harm by it.” Of course he did. He didn’t say those things in his sleep or with a gun to his head. Should he make such a ridiculous video, it is because he freely and deliberately put on makeup, did that thing he does to his hair, stood in front of a camera, and committed the sin of rash judgment and calumny in a big way. So I would sincerely hope he apologizes for it rather than just letting that big digital turd he laid stink up the joint. But whether or not he does apologize in the unlikely event he did something that foolish, I would hereby extend forgiveness to the hypothetical Mr. “Voris” for his sin–his sin, mind you, not his “honest mistake”. And I would say so openly and freely on my blog without charging you a $10/month premium content fee while posturing in high dudgeon about “professional Catholics” (who, in my opinion, have as much right to earn a living from their hard work as, oh, say, Michael Voris).

Similarly, if you are among those who flooded my email or FB with insults about everything from my sexuality to my weight to rages about my friend Jimmy Akin and his alleged “hatchet job”, satisfied that you have landed a good punch against a “fake Catholic” and his sinister compatriots, I will not degrade the English language by trying to pretend you did it all in perfect Christian charity and “meant well”.

Nope. I’ll acknowledge the bleedin’ obvious. You sinned by rash judgement and calumny. You know it. I know it. God knows it. You were not just a sucker who believed a con man. You were a sucker who believed a con man and then you were arrogant enough to follow that con man’s suggestion to kick and kick hard the very people who were trying to warn you that you were being conned. You were, in fact, a *triple* sucker because you already had the very instructive lesson of Maciel and *his* name-calling, reputation-destroying hit squads of suckers to learn from–and you learned nothing. If you had any decency, you’d write every person upon whom you heaped so much abuse and say you were sorry, then you’d write all the people you abused them to and apologize to them too. Then you’d make bloody sure you learn at long last not to credulously go around abusing decent Catholics who point to big huge flashing warning signs while gaining nothing but your abuse for their troubles.

But whether you ever say “sorry” or not (and it is worth noting that the “I’m sorry for insulting you. You were right.” apologies are generally much thinner on the ground than the “You are going to hell for persecuting this living saint, you miserable bastard” accusations), you need to know that I hereby extend you forgiveness because forgiveness is for sins, not for well-meaning blunders. And Jesus commands me to forgive whatever I have against anyone whether or not they say sorry. So I do it, lest the day come (as it already has many times in the past) when I need the forgiveness of Christ and he looks at me with that cocked eyebrow and says, “I have forgiven you a billion dollar debt, and you are still throttling that emailer who insulted you over that silly little business with Fr. Corapi? You have to be kidding!” I prefer Heaven to Hell, so I opt to forgive those who committed the sins of rash judgment and calumny against me and others whom I respect and esteem.

Finally, let me say to those decent folk who joined in the calumny and rash judgment against whistleblowers and who *do* have the decency to feel bad about it now: Stop kicking yourself. It does nobody any good and it does not offer love to God or neighbor. You need to remember that we are commanded to forgive ourselves too and to receive the mercy of Christ. There is abundant pardon for this and all sins if we will only receive it, and I sincerely hope you, me, Fr. Corapi and all involved in this sad business will accept it for whatever sins we have committed and extend it to those who have sinned against us–particularly Fr. Corapi. The anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God.

Bottom line: if you still trust Fr. Corapi, open your eyes. If you are still mad at the whistleblowers who tried to warn you, open your eyes. If you have opened your eyes given up trusting him, forgive him and pray for him. If you have been among those kicking whistleblowers, for my part I forgive you, as I am confident the rest of them do. If you are feeling guilty for kicking the whistleblowers, forgive yourself, receive the mercy of Christ and move on. Perhaps it might be a good idea to go to confession with a priest you have regarded as “liberal” or otherwise not up to snuff as a member of the “real Catholic” tribe.


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