The Corapi Investigation: What it is… (UPDATES)

Deacon Bill Ditewig, who has serious experience in the matter of priestly investigations has a very helpful post up on his site. First and foremost, he admits the system is flawed, but maintains it also has its strengths, and that the issue pertaining to John Corapi and his resignation — or whatever it is — from the priesthood has nothing to do with the so-called Dallas Charter:

It has never been my intention to comment much on l’affaire Corapi. We simply don’t know enough the facts surrounding the case to comment intelligently about it. However, one theme that has run through the various communiques issued by the Corapi camp has been about the ecclesial process looking into the matter. Essentially, and variously, the process has been described as lacking transparency, as being fundamentally flawed, and even “of the devil” and so on. While I don’t know the facts of the case, I do have some familiarity with the process, and want to comment on it briefly. I do so out of concern over many of Corapi’s “fans” who are now vilifying and demonizing “the bishops” and their process.

Let me begin with full disclosure: I was a member of the USCCB’s senior staff for more than five years (2002-2007), and a consultant to the USCCB before that and since. It is in this capacity that I offer some observations.

1) I readily acknowledge that no human legal process is without flaws, and I’m not suggesting here that the process being followed is flawless or perfect. On the other hand, it has good points as well.

2) Despite innuendo and even some statements otherwise, this matter is NOT subject to the so-called “Dallas Charter” which address clergy sex abuse cases dealing with children, and vulnerable adults. So, there should be clarity here: Whatever is going on with Corapi vis-a-vis this particular case — which as I understand it deals with the claims of an adult woman against Corapi — it does not involve the Dallas Charter and its provisions. So, discussions which suggest otherwise are grossly inaccurate and should be discounted.

3) So, what process IS being invoked? Rather simple, actually: it is the process contained in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church (the Eastern Catholic Churches have their own Code of Canons). When a cleric is accused of a crime, he is subject both to ecclesial law (“Canon Law”) and to civil law. The legislator for a cleric is either his bishop (if he is a diocesan deacon or presbyter) or his religious superior (if he is a member of a religious order). When religious orders minister within a particular diocese, of course, they do so under the authority of the diocesan bishop. For example, if the bishop has asked the Franciscans to staff a particular parish in the diocese, the Franciscan superior will make the actual assignment (he’ll pick the priest to be assigned), but the priest will be responsible both to his own superior and also to the diocesan bishop.

Read it all. Clarity, amidst so much that is vague or unknown, is helpful!

Also, Devin Rose has: a defense of Bishop Mulvey of Corpus Christi, of whom I know nothing:

Firstly, even though Bishop Mulvey was only recently appointed to Corpus, I assume that Corapi is speaking of him and not the former bishop when he made his comments.

I met Bishop Mulvey (when he was Father, and then Monsignor) during my ten years in Austin. I heard Mass from him many times and talked with him as well. He always struck me as a priest with a very gentle spirit. Not all priests have that gift, but he did. I understood that he was involved in the ecclesial movement Focolare, which seemed to fit his personality well.

Eventually, after Bishop Aymond was transferred to Louisiana, Msgr. Mulvey became the administrator for the diocese until Bishop Vasquez was chosen. Mulvey was then himself moved and raised to the epicopate. He’s only been bishop in Corpus for sixteen months or so.

Thus, it pains my heart to hear Corapi’s critical words toward him. Corapi didn’t think he could receive a fair trial, but everything I know about Bishop Mulvey says otherwise. Pope Benedict has appointed so many good bishops, including Mulvey, that I can’t help but think that even if Corapi didn’t get a fair hearing at one level, he could have appealed and surely received justice at a higher level.

So, it seems to be one great misunderstanding–no doubt instigated by the Devil, but also one that God would have made beautiful–had only Corapi trusted the Church and humbled himself, even in the face of what very well could be false and unjust accusations.

A few more notable pieces:

Deacon Greg: What an ex-priest can and can’t do
Pat Archbold: First Thoughts on the News
Sr. Lisa Doty: Prayer and the Priesthood
Benedictus Dominus: How did we get here?
Jimmy Akin
the state of due process for accused priests
Theater of the Word, Inc
Why I am Catholic

since some wondered about it in the comments section of another thread, the “f you” (facebook and youtube tiles) on the blacksheepdog site have had a T put between them for twitter, so, it’s no longer “f you.”

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • SteveM

    Re: #47 Gail “His materials were too expensive for me, but running an independent publishing company is expensive.”

    That’s one thing that has sort of bothered me about Fr. Corapi. Publishing these days is dirt cheap. Rather than an “independent publishing company”, Father Corapi’s business is probably a small back office shop that only has to burn DVDs and CDs (10 cents a piece) and maintain a web page.

    The idea that his organization has “senior vice presidents” or something is ridiculous. It probably employs less than 10 people.

    Moreover, Father Corapi’s content prices are VERY large relative to production costs, making his margins huge. Moreover, almost all professional advice sites have some free white papers or advice pages along with links to related sites apart from materials for sale.

    Access to all of Father Corapi’s content is totally fee based with no related links. In other words, it’s all about him (if you pay).

    Something strange is going on there.

  • kaycee

    Debra 20,
    Thank you for that link. that was very enlightening, especially p 61 where it describes how Father Corapi said he did not know what he would do if he would be required to live without his material goods ($2 million/year). It said that he was not really living in an order and not a diocesan preist so he felt canon law might not apply to him.

  • Daniel T

    There is a new update about the investigation at

  • kaycee

    This may help shed some light on what is written in the book brought up by Debra 20. The Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Crisiti on his blog Abyssus Abyssum Invocat/Deep Calls to Deep says that John Corapi is not bound by a vow of poverty. He does not belong to a religious order or congregation. He is not a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. He is incardinated in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. He has permisson of his superiors to live in Montana where his publishing company is. He has (had?) a promise of obedience to his superior, the General Priest Servant of the Society.

    [And, according to that bishop, Corapi is apparently intent on a political career, which I suggested when this news broke the other day and was excoriated for. His religious superior has now spoken: -admin]

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Thanks for that link, Daniel T.

    I will continue to pray for John Corapi. (Geesh, do I still call him Father? Do I call him Mr?)

    I want to believe him but he’s making it increasingly difficult to do that.

    I don’t like how he’s handled this at all. I’m trying to take into account his personality, his life before this, his solid Catholic teachings up until this point, the temptations that I’m sure are before him…

    The trials that he’s had to go through…

    Well. (sigh) Maybe it doesn’t really matter what I know and what I don’t know. My job is to pray for him and let God carry the rest.

  • Gail F

    SteveM: It depends on what business model he uses. Could be a shoestring; could be big bucks. I don’t know. But I agree about the lack of anything free on his site. Troubling.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Anchoress, where did it say about a political career? I missed that.

    [in the bishop's statement: Now, until his suspension is lifted, he is free from the Church’s prohibition on clerics participating in the political life of the nation. Given his past outspoken criticism of the current slide of our government to become more and more like the socialist governments of Europe, I think that we can expect to hear The Black Sheep Dog speak out more openly on the burning issues we will face in the election year of 2012.

    I probably should not have used the word "career" (I was in transit while writing) but I did write this when the story broke: I’m more inclined to think, though, that he’s intending to go into a right-wing focused teaparty/religion sort of mode; I expect he’ll become more political.

    It sounds like the bishop is saying exactly that. If he becomes political, it will be interesting to see how the press treats him; will they love him because he "fights" the church or will they dislike him as a rightwinger? -admin]

  • Daniel T

    Look for the paragraph in Bishop Gracida’s blog that begins:
    “Now, until his suspension is lifted, he is free from the Church’s prohibition on clerics participating in the political life of the nation.”

    The blogpost is very odd, he says Father Corapi has never done any pastoral work in the Diocese of Corpus Christi whereas Fr. Corapi’s bio says he did parish work in Robbstown. He writes about “Since I believe that his accuser is a former manager of his media company who he terminated with some kind termination agreement” and it turns out he is trying to enforce a non-disclosure clause.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Thanks, Anchoress and Daniel for that information.

    If he tries to influence people concerning politics, it’s not going to help anyone but the other side. The media will grab onto it and portray him as a rabid right-winger and try to paint both the church and everyone else with the same brush.

    I am so sad.

  • Petras Rubbi

    Makes a man want to turn off the entirety of Catholic (and “Catholic”) media — DVDs, EWTN, blogs, all of it — and spend that time instead in silent, quiet prayer.

  • Debra

    I don’t find EWTN doing anything wrong. They took him off and I felt at the time, they knew more than we did and were trying to keep scandal from their airways.

    I am going to try to increase my donations to help them make up for the Corapi followers that will attack anyone who touches their guy.

  • James

    (Debra wrote – “I am going to try to increase my donations to help them make up for the Corapi followers that will attack anyone who touches their guy.”)

    I’ve seen the recent commercial on EWTN by Deacon Bill who notes that the network is $800,000 in debt. That has prompted me to start donating again.

    It would be helpful, and most Christ-like, if we could extend our hearts to those followers of Fr Corapi who are angry and upset during this difficult time. We should all remember that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that their feelings and reactions are borne out of fear and hurt. Forgive them. Sympathize with them. Pray for them. Love them.

    The pain of this scandal (along with a myriad of other scandals over the last several decades) can ultimately be an opportunity to reunite and strengthen Christ’s Church- if we only let the Holy Spirit guide our responses.

    And wouldn’t you just know it; take a look at today’s liturgical reading and meditation:

    Scripture: Matthew 7:1-5

    1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    (Meditation: How do you wish to be judged by others? Everybody is a critic, but who wants to be judged negatively? Judgmentalism is rampant, even among Christians. So how can we avoid this poisonous sin and not be contaminated by the world’s view of who is good and who is bad? “Thinking the best of other people” is necessary if we wish to grow in love. And kindliness in judgment is nothing less that a sacred duty. The Rabbis warned people: “He who judges his neighbor favorably will be judged favorably by God.” How easy it is to misjudge and how difficult it is to be impartial in judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the person to their inner motives and intentions, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself.

    Jesus states a heavenly principle we can stake our lives on: what you give to others (and how you treat others) will return to you in like manner. The Lord knows our faults, weaknesses, and sins and he sees everything, even the imperfections and hidden sins of the heart which we cannot recognize in ourselves. Like a gentle father and a skillful doctor he patiently draws us to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of sin which inhabits our hearts. Do you trust in God’s mercy and grace? And do you submit to his truth about what is right and wrong, good and evil, helpful and harmful for your welfare and the welfare of your neighbor as well? Ask the Lord to purify your heart with his loving-kindness and mercy that you may have ample room for charity and forbearance towards your neighbor.)

    In the end- the only thing that endures is Christ’s love.

    And that is the ultimate point to all of this.

    Let us never lose sight of that truth.

  • Kevin

    Well the latest news from his religious superior really makes him tough to defend.

    Here’s a question: How much money from those NDA’s came from Santa Cruz donations/purchases? Would people have done so had they known that he was using that money to essentially buy the silence of his accusers?

  • fiestamom

    I think I’ve read this from the Anchoress, but it sounds like EWTN is hurting for donations.

    Deacon Steltemeir had a commercial on during Father Groeschel’s show last night. Reminding us that EWTN is in this to save souls. I’m sure they’ve lost a lot of donations b/c of this Father Corapi thing, so if you can find any extra money, maybe donate it to EWTN to help make up the difference.

    [EWTN has treated Corapi no differently than they have any other priest under suspension, and -- far from being a "tool" of "the bishops" -- has always been an independent entity that has striven to present orthodox Catholicism to Catholics. It is a measure of how enthralled his fans are to a mere man, that so many chose to forget that, and to demonize the network, for doing nothing more than practicing the virtue of prudence, as it does for all suspended priests. Talk about biting off the nose to spite the face! Corapi got enormous exposure and built his fanbase partially in thanks to EWTN's exposure. Through all of this, it would have been gracious of Corapi to have reminded his passionate defenders that EWTN needed their fidelity and their donations, if they were to continue to bring them the masses and programming they want. But graciousness seems not to be part of Corapi's M.O., or at least it hasn't been on display, during these months. And perhaps he figures there is only so much donation money to go around. -admin]

  • Kirstin

    Doesn’t someone who sues another for alleged breach of a confidentiality contract have to do so on the basis that the material that was actually disclosed was true? If someone “discloses” something that isn’t true, they haven’t really breached anything confidential — they’ve just made something up. Fr. Corapi stated that none of the accusations against him by the person who was accusing him (the one he is suing for breach of contract) was true. It would seem his actionable case would be for libel then (again, taking his word that none of the accusations is true), not breach of confidentiality.

  • Rainey

    Kirsten, excellent point—the way Fr. Sheehan described the situation really struck me as telling,
    “When she left the company, she signed a contract that she would not reveal anything that happened to her while she was at Santa Cruz Media. Father Corapi paid her for this. Father was suing her for a breach of contract,”

    Suing her for breach of contract definitely suggests that what she was going to reveal was something that, in fact, actually DID happen to her while she was at Santa Cruz Media.

    As you pointed out, if she was making up some story, the lawsuit would be for libel.

    Corapi complains of the fact the investigation was going to go on “indefinitely”; now we know why—-because he set in motion civil actions that prevent any of the witnesses from participating in it. He tied SOLT and the Church’s hands on this one.

    The icing on the cake is that he then lambasts the Church for its “unjust” policies that hindered a fair investigation!!!

    This man has serious gall. Wow.

  • Verushka

    Search “Corapi”. Maybe he can sell off even one or two of those ten properties he owns and donate some cash to EWTN.

  • sj

    jkm’s comment at # 46 that “at his last public appearance he spent a good bit of time recounting a dream about traveling to new worlds, led by his dog, Sage, who died last year and whom he eulogized as his best friend in the world in his Thanksgiving 2010 newsletter” I think gives credence to the idea that he may be in the grip of serious depression. I’m no fan of his by a long shot but he may not be fully responsible for his actions at this point.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    I just listened to Mr. Corapi’s most recent speech. I am now convinced. I am going to throw out any cd/dvds of his.

    According to him, he is going to talk about broader topics besides religion. He completely trashes the woman who accused him and her husband while suing her for talking.

    I am ashamed of him. I am saddened by him. And despite all of this (or maybe BECAUSE of all this) I will continue my rosary novena for his soul. I do believe that he is and has been under severe spiritual attack.

    I also think that it’s about time that I donated money to EWTN tv.

    God help all of us.

  • Debra

    I have his conversion CD (which another site gave me for 1.00 donation) and I’m throwing it out. I don’t have to believe his story or anyones apparitions. If all that happened to him (and many have doubted) than he is throwing it all in everyone’s face and he should be ashamed.
    Just because someone decided to tell about misdeeds and not honor a “don’t tell” agreement, he is upset…that is probably what she was threatening to do when he first started talking about it and talking about other preists and “crazy women”
    Everyone forgets there are other women named but they also signed agreements and are probably scared. I don’t think if someone is breaking the law or his vows, those things should hold, but then again, he really doesn’t have to answer to anyone now.
    His line about not deserving to be a priest probably wasn’t humble, maybe it was just true.

    I hope the church weathers this well and I will try to give more to EWTN, I hope others who support them can give a few dollars more also. Let the fanatics buy his DVD’s instead but truth will always be on EWTN.

  • Deb

    I just listened to that tape, how awful…the “poor me”.
    The edge of his seat for 3 days…when he wasn’t even in the state of town? Raging alcoholics that no one else really sees, although that doesn’t mean she’s lying even if she is. I see “diversion” all around.
    Maybe if he belonged to the church instead of wanting his money and life apart, they would have helped more. He was more secular than most priests will ever be. He brought in more than most parish’s in a month than they do in a year..this circus as Deacon Greg said, has to stop, but I’m sure it wont.

    They also said in the SOLT statement he wanted to leave for years so he talks out of both sides of his mouth.

    [Comments closed. By the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Or flying monkeys or something. I think the comments have been exhausted. I know I am. -admin]