EWTN Responds to Critics re Fr. Corapi


Photo credit: Patrick Novecosky

If it’s Friday, there must be something new to read about Father John Corapi! That does seem to be the truth of it, doesn’t it? In a way, it’s a shame. On these Fridays in Lent we should be turned away from the headlines and the news, looking at Christ and his passion. But then again, EWTN has come under a lot of fire recently, so this response is news.

This is not the first time EWTN has felt the need to explain to its viewers why it has suspended the broadcasting of Fr. Corapi’s programming until his case is settled. They put a statement out on March 23, but apparently it was not well-received by some, so they have now clarified further:

The Eternal Word Television Network said its decision to halt programming by the popular speaker Fr. John Corapi followed the lead of legitimate Church authority.

“EWTN has an obligation to uphold the discipline and teachings of the Church,” president Michael Warsaw said on April 1. “In the network’s thirty years of existence, our practice has always been to discontinue airing programs featuring any cleric whose priestly faculties have been suspended, even if temporarily,” Warsaw said.
[...]
EWTN has come under intense criticism for its decision.

In his statement, Warsaw said that much of that criticism has been “shrill and uncharitable.” He said that many people have threatened to withhold donations and have made personal remarks attacking the network’s employees.

“When I see messages and web postings that malign the character and intentions of people who have served this mission for years, often at great personal sacrifice, I cannot allow those assertions to stand unanswered,” he said.

Warsaw stressed that it “is simply illogical to assert, as some have, that the very people who have worked personally with Fr. John over the years and who have made certain that he has had a continued presence on EWTN would suddenly and immediately take league with the enemy and turn against him.”

“In this case, Fr. John’s own religious superior has made the determination to place him on administrative leave and feels it best that Fr. John not exercise public ministry at this time,” Warsaw said. “Fr. Corapi’s religious superior obviously believes that this was the prudent and appropriate course of action.”

Warsaw said that although the network does not know the details of the case, “as Catholics, we are obliged to give deference and the benefit of the doubt to the religious superior who does know.”
[...]
“Fr. John is not just a face on television or a voice on the radio to those of us here at EWTN. He is a man many of us know personally and admire greatly. That made the decision all the more difficult for us.”

Warsaw also underscored the network’s stance that Fr. Corapi “is absolutely innocent of any and all charges unless proven otherwise by the investigation that is now underway.”

“I have been privileged to know Fr. John for more than a decade. He is a gifted preacher and has done tremendous work leading souls to Christ. That is a fact.”

“Fr. John has asked us to pray for all involved,” Warsaw said. “That is what we are doing. I would also ask our EWTN Family to continue to pray that this matter will be resolved quickly and that Fr. John’s programs can be returned to the airwaves.”

You can read the whole memo here: (h/t to New Advent)

As I wrote a little while back:

Writing letters insisting that EWTN “defend” Fr. Corapi is unrealistic; it is fairly common procedure for institutions of all sorts to take a step back when an investigation of any of its members is ongoing, for the sake of the organization’s own exposure to liability, and (more importantly) its credibility. EWTN is not, suddenly, a “bad Catholic” organization, any more than anyone else who is choosing to “wait and see” is a “bad” Catholic.

Meanwhile, Fr. Corapi’s website has added this memo to his site, but has said nothing about this controversy brewing at EWTN, either way. I wouldn’t presume to speak for him, but I can’t imagine likes seeing his friends at EWTN being treated badly or punished over a matter that they really don’t have much control over.

What kind of fruit is that to bring to bear in Lent?

In related news, given that Fr. Corapi is an evangelist, the pope’s intentions for April are about evangelizing new generations. Let’s hope April is the month all this gets settled.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • jeff

    Short of the accuser recanting i don’t see how it gets settled in 30 days. This is the problem with the automatic suspension

  • http://prayingtheway.blogspot.com/ Praying The Way

    It’s been 4 yrs. since our priest friend was accused. Our parish was told that it would be a 6-9mo. process. Since then, there has been little to no progress and our beloved priest remains in an unrelenting limbo. Is there any way to really restore his reputation at this point, or return him to active ministry without suspicion? It’s a terrible situation.

    It is my prayer that Fr. Corapi, in suffering this accusation, may be the impetus to improve the process and make it more just for those priests who seem to be guilty until proven innocent right now. I also pray that he is exonerated and able to resume active ministry quickly.

    EWTN is being obedient, as they should be.

    God bless Mother Church, her priests and her people.

  • Mike

    What seems to be overlooked here is that “administrative leave” has no direct analogy in Fr. Corapi’s case. In a large organization, administrative leave means you’re relieved of your duties, but you continue to draw your salary. Hence, most personnel policy manuals will define administrative leave as non-punitive and non-appealable, and usually has a maximum duration.
    But here it is punitive. SOLT has put him on administrative leave (although they apparently told Fr. Corapi the bishop told them to). There’s no way they can continue his salary, which he earns with his speaking engagements. Top it off, SOLT, after taking what can only be deemed punitive action, has apparently not even selected the investigating team. This is simply clownish, incompetent management. I don’t know much about SOLT, and apparently it’s not very large and hasn’t been around too long, but this seems to have already gotten away from them. They are playing catch-up and this is not likely to end well with a credible administrative finding.

  • Lisa

    His “salary”?

    Nothing is stopping the sales of his DVD’s and such – and Santa Cruz Media is not hesitating in taking advantage of the drama to continue sales.

    You should take a look at the property records someone posted either here or at Deacon Greg’s blog. Fr. Corapi owns enough property up there in Montana that if he grew short of cash he could sell of a tract or two and that might do him for a year.

  • Nan

    Mike, Fr. Corapi is listed as CEO of Santa Cruz; presumably they have money and will continue to pay his salary. Although his public ministry is on hold, I don’t see any reason that his published works would no longer be sold, unless they’re exclusively available at his speaking engagements, which would be unusual. I’d expect them to be available on Santa Cruz’s website, his personal website and Amazon. If SOLT truly is a small organization, perhaps it is forgivable that they’re not investigating immediately as they don’t have experience in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct; if the Bishop truly did tell them they must put Fr. Corapi on administrative leave, that would indicate lack of experience and perhaps naivete on the part of their leadership.

    It may be that striking out on his own and creating a for-profit entity was naive on the part of Fr. Corapi. If he was working together with SOLT, the whole issue may have been avoided due to lack of female employees. Putting himself in the community, away from the shelter of religious norms may have been a mistake.

  • Greta

    Curious as to why some well know and so called catholic media routinely have open dissenters from accepted church teaching on serious matters and how that squares with EWTN feeling compeled to remove Father Corapi.

    I have no issue with those who have supported EWTN now witholding donations based on this decision. to me, the answer would have been to supply only taped shows with known content and have nothing live until he was able to appear. We know that what Father Corapi preaches is in complete agreement and alignment with authentic church teaching so not sure there would have been any harm and it would have shown EWTN was supportive of this priest teaching. If they were ordered to do this by the local Bishop, that should have been in their statement which would have then brought those with concerns to the door of the person actually responsible.

    So can anyone explain why CNS and the Catholic Distorter routinely have not only those in open dissent, but actual attacks on settled teaching and square it with this?

  • Daniel T

    Open dissenters that have legitimate priestly faculties might be distinguished from someone who has no priestly faculties (at least for the time being).

    Buying Father’s talks of Amazon? I don’t think you’d find any that Santa Cruz Media controls, only some early talks and conferences that some other company retained the rights to. Santa Cruz Media may not want to work with Amazon as Amazon would provide information as to how many were sold, which currently it is impossible to tell.

    If Father were a regular member of SOLT living according to the Constitution they passed in 1994 (after he had an agreement for his arrangements with the founder), he’d be provided an allowance by SOLT while his income for his ministry would properly belong to them, not a for-profit corporation with no affiliation to the Catholic Church and not subject to any bishop or religious superior. While Father has often mentioned that he must make a profit as he receives no support from the Church, that does seem to be his choice as SOLT would provide him with an allowance to meet his needs.

  • Jane

    In regards to fr Corapi owning property:

    1. There is no reason for him not to own property. Fr Corapi did not take a vow of poverty.

    2. The women who has accused Fr Corapi has attacked at least two women in his office and vowed to destroy him.

    3. How long ago was this women fired ? BIG QUESTION !
    Was she fired a month ago or two years ago ?

    I think knowing when she was fired will say alot to the allegations she is making. I tend to think she is seeing dollar signs blinking in her minds eye.

    How long did she work for Fr. Corapi ? That will also say something.If she worked for him for a long period of time and then years later decided to slander him – I have a problem with that.

    Where are the other women she is claiming to have been involved ? I have not heard a single word from anyone but the fired employee.

    How much did she know of Fr Corapi’s past and used that to weave her story ?

    Did she take drugs or drink too much ? Is that clouding her mind and keeping her from the truth ? People who are addictied always want more and will do anything to get what they want. Maybe she thought Fr Corapi and or the church would solve her problems.

    Was she indebt or did she steal from fr Corapi and doesn’t want to give the money back so instead makes slanderous accusations to take the heat off herself.

    There is a victim here and it’s Fr Corapi. He has helped many and continues to do so even during these difficult times.

    I believe there is alot we do not know about this women. I believe the people who still work with Fr Corapi can verify how unstable this women seems to be. You do not attack people when your fired or threaten to destroy someone if you are of sound mind and body. I also know threatening and attacking someone like she did is not acceptable behavior by anyone least not someone who follows god.

    I am sure we will hear the truth about this women and we will all be praying for her to get the help she needs.I also hope she repents and ask for forgiveness.

  • brother jeff

    Lisa, i would add that the catholic blogosphere is not hesitating to take advantage of the drama either to increase its normally anemic readership

  • Daniel T

    Jane:

    You have not even heard a single word from the accuser. While it is likely true that she is a disgruntled former employee, you do not know that she was fired. You do know that Father Corapi has indicated that he has been accused of everything, including his multiple sexual exploits with several women. Even he did not say that he was being accused of anything involving the consent of the accuser, nor whether she was the main party in his exploits.

    If you were working for a priest and he made constant unwanted sexual advances towards yourself and you discovered him actually having sex with another employee, what would you do? Perhaps quit and report his conduct? If the other employee that you had caught with him asked you not to report things because it might destroy the priest, would you let that stop you? Might that fellow employee call you disgruntled and as having threatened to destroy the priest? While we don’t know if this is what might have happened or not, it would fit what has been said every bit as well as what you seem to be imaging yourself.

  • Kate

    Some of Father Corapi’s “supporters” are doing him more harm than good. If unfounded, uncharitable–one is sometimes tempted to say unhinged–speculation about the woman accuser, such as I have seen repeatedly in comments here and elsewhere, are representative of his audience, then I think they reflect very poorly on Father and his ministry. I have never listened to him or watched him–but what on earth is he saying that leads his followers to such indulge in such bizarre speculations about someone they don’t even know?

  • brother jeff

    Yes Kate we know the angle now: attack father corapi’s supporters as ‘crazy.’ This is a sure sign you are losing the argument. A bishop just released a statement in support of father corapi and condemning the unfairness of the process. Is he ‘unhinged’ too?

  • Kate

    Jeff, I don’t think there is much of an “argument” going on. From what I can see in comments here and on other blogs, some (not all) of Father Corapi’s supporters are not engaging in rational argument. They are just attacking the character and motivation of a woman they know virtually nothing about. Is this charitable, or just, or even rational?

    I have seen some rational discussion of whether or not a suspension was warranted before an investigation has been completed, and whether or not EWTN should have pulled his programming. I have seen many expressions of heartfelt dismay and promises to pray for all concerned. Nothing wrong with any of that. But the uninformed and unsubstantiated attacks on the original woman complainant are really not a good advertisement for Father Corapi’s ministry.

  • Gwendolyn

    http://maps.flathead.mt.gov/ims/Search.aspx

    Put “Corapi” in the search box.

  • Ann

    Correct me if I am wrong:
    We know about the nature of the accusations against Fr, Corapi because he released a statement himself about “multiple sexual exploits” and “drug abuse” on his own website. We also know the nature of the accusations against the female, including that she assaulted employees, threatened Father, and was fired, because Fr. Corapi’s employee released a statement on Fr. Corapi’s website. We also know about the accusations against the Bishop involved, including that his actions are illicit (or something like that) because Fr. Corapi’s employee released a statement on Father’s website. We also believe that the accusation against Father was regarding “consensual” sexual relations (not involving a minor) because another Bishop released a statement on Father Corapi’s website.

    That’s a lot of accusations being released on Father Corapi’s website. Maybe Father Corapi should ask his webmaster to stop releasing statements containing accusations for public consumption, especially if Father and his employee and Bishop are concerned about the injustices done to Father’s and others’ reputations.

  • Daniel T

    Ann:

    What type of sexual exploits has he been accused of? There’s nothing conclusive that the accuser was involved in any consensual sex with Father Corapi.

    Hard to tell if the accuser is someone that was fired or quit her job. I suppose the VP’s statement that the accuser “lost her job” suggests that she was fired, but then we don’t know if the VP may have been accused as well (“several women”). If the VP is involved in the charges, how much credibility can you give to her own accusations against the accuser?

    Bishop Gracida seems to have posted some commentary on his own blog ( http://abyssum.wordpress.com), and it was then posted on fathercorapi.com. He’s giving general commentary on the problem of when priests being falsely accused, but there seems to be no indication that he has any special knowledge of the accusations that have led him to a conclusion.

  • Ann

    There’s nothing conclusive that the accuser was involved in any consensual sex with Father Corapi.</i.

    There's nothing conclusive at all to any of it. Father shared the accusations against him publicly, not his Superior, Bishop, or the woman who lost her position with Santa Cruz Media. Father's employee accused this person of threatening Father and assaulting others. (You are right, she may not have been fired, though it is suggested.) Father's employee also accused the Bishop of acting illicitly. Father posted this statement from Bishop Gracida which refers to 'consensual' sexual activity on his website. (Thank you for pointing out that Bishop Gracida posted it on his own prior to that.) He seems to "know" what the accusations against Father Corapi are, but perhaps I am reading that incorrectly.

    I agree that the process needs to be looked at and changed if credible evidence isn't necessary to put a priest on administrative leave. It is unjust to remove an innocent man from his priestly duties without credible evidence.

    However, it is important to note that IF Father Corapi has been accused of drug abuse and sexual exploits, we only know about it because of Father Corapi. Personally, I believe that his accuser did the right thing (unless she is lying): write to his Superior and Bishops involved; ask for an investigation. She did not publish anything. She should also be given the benefit of the doubt. Father Corapi should NOT have allowed her to be accused of assaulting others by his employees. If she is innocent, than THAT is also wrong, isn't it?

  • cathyf

    I’m with Kate here. I have very strong opinions about the manifest injustice — or more precisely evil — of trashing a priest’s good name first before even starting an investigation. Especially when the allegations do not involve non-consensual behavior, where at least you might argue that you are protecting victims and/or potential victims from some current danger.

    On the other hand, some of Fr Corapi’s “supporters” are really creeping me out. Over the last few days I’ve been told that I must worship Fr Corapi as God (since anyone who suggests that there is even a possibility that Fr. Corapi might have committed a sin is committing blasphemy. No, wait a minute, that was “BLASPHEMY!!!”) I’ve been treated to long, sordidly detailed descriptions of the accuser’s inmost thoughts, motivations, despicable character, etc., from people who readily admit that they are just making it up. They’ve seen Fr. Corapi on TV or heard him on the radio, and now they are his most intimate friends who know with great certainty that it is simply impossible that he might be guilty of anything.

    I’ve got to say that I’m going to be really really pissed off if Fr Corapi is guilty and telling big very very public lies — because it makes it so much easier to railroad truly innocent priests going forward. But I’m also a little worried about his more unhinged “supporters” if he is shown to be innocent. Because idolatry is a grave sin, and being delusional and unmoored from reality is dangerous, too.

  • brother jeff

    The straw man, having been duly set up, wkas promptly knocked down.

  • http://N/A Eric den Biesen

    Jeff, if you have an argument to prove her wrong, POST IT!
    I agree with her, as I believe Father to be innocent as well,
    and am also ‘creeped out’ by his so-called supporters. If you
    people REALLY supported him, you would practice what he
    preaches, CHARITY. Good Lord, did you people even LISTEN
    to what he was teaching you?

  • Jane

    Fact: The accuser was fired….Fact: The accuser did physically assault two women in the office of Santa Cruz Media and this was AFTER she was fired…Fact: Fr Corapi is innocent…There will be a time when the accuser is revieled and some of you may understand how cunning and manipulative a person can truly be….I leave you with a thought..Let’s say hypothetically someone accuses someone of very bad things,would you expect the acusser to associate herself with the one she is accusing ? Would you have pictures of you and the accused on your FaceBook with family and friends as if you were long lost friends ? Would you use the accused name on your new buisness web page as a way of promoting your new buisness? Something to think about…

  • CD

    “Fact: The accuser was fired” Maybe. That’s Santa Cruz Media’s version of event. Hers may be different. If she was fired, why? We don’t know that either. If the accusations are false, then her firing is very relevant. It could provide an obvious motive. If the accusations are true, her firing is irrelevant. The standards of acceptable priestly behavior don’t change because someone is fired.

    “Fact: The accuser did physically assault two women in the office of Santa Cruz Media” We don’t know that either. The VP of Santa Cruz Media, a very interested party, claimed that these assaults happened. Did they? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know.

    “Fact: Fr. Copapi is innocent” I hope so, but I don’t know the facts. And I don’t Father personally, only his public persona. Until I know more, I’m not going to make any assertions about guilt or innocence.

  • Jane

    There is no maybe about it ..Period ! Attack two women after being fired ..YES ! Fr Corapi innocent ..YES ! The accuser will be made public.. .P.S. It is your right not to make any assertations about guilt or innocence….

  • CD

    Jane, you’re hinting strongly at having sources of information that the rest of us don’t. Is this what allows you to be certain? If you do, you can do us and Father a service by letting us know. What this whole discussion needs is something more that speculation. If you can provide that, I think you should

    [If she does that, I suggest she do it elsewhere - please do not invite her to do it here. I am not opening this blog up to charges of slander. -admin]

  • brother jeff

    Eric den her claims are so over the top, so ridiculous (supporters saying he must be worshipped as God) that no argument is necessary.

  • dennis

    Its a sad world that we know presume guilt until proven innocent. It is by no means coincidence that the charges were brought out on ash Wednesday. Satan is at work trying to destroy. Father Corapi mission before his book comes out. He is being penalized because of the sins of priests in the past who made mistakes while the adult who accuses him.is able to hide there identity. Its a sad world. I can understand protecting children but this adult who is more than likely is after money.the adult who brought the charges should have to disclose there identity as well

  • mike

    I guess a priest in guilty until proven innocent. Kind of sounds like the middle ages and the Inquisition. Too bad.


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