The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Ex-Sacramento priest ousted due to allegations
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Yesterday, Catholic officials confirmed that Fr. John Corapi has been suspended due to allegations of sexual misconduct. According to the Official Catholic Directory and his resume, in the late 1990s, Corapi was the Director of the Project on the Catechism of the Catholic Church in Sacramento under then-Bishop William K. Weigand.
We don’t know the age or gender of Corapi’s accuser, nor do we know anything about the allegations against him. (Originally, he was a priest of the Corpus Christi diocese though he’s apparently been working recently with a Texas-based Catholic Religious order.)
But we do know that America’s Catholic hierarchy has repeatedly pledged to be “open and transparent” in clergy sexual abuse cases. That’s not really happening here. We urge Sacramento’s bishop to be more forthcoming and proactive than other church officials have been in this case.
Specifically, we urge the bishop to use his vast resources to aggressively seek out anyone who may have suspicions or knowledge of misdeeds by Corapi in the Sacramento diocese. That’s what any caring shepherd should do, without having to be prompted and prodded.
We've long been skeptical of these sort of 'freelance,' traveling priests who seem to foster a cult of personality and apparently get little or no real supervision.
Popular and charismatic priests have extraordinary power over devout Catholics, including adults. It's important to remember that Catholics are raised from birth to think of priests as holy, celibate men who can forgive sins and get us into heaven. This gives priests tremendous power over lay people.
Corapi, though apparently not accused of molesting kids, seems a lot like Fr. Ken Roberts of Dallas, who also claimed to have overcome a life of debauchery and became religious, then traveled the country engaging in sexual misconduct.
We hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by Corapi finds the strength to come forward and the wisdom to contact independent sources of help – police, prosecutors, therapists, loved ones and support groups like ours – instead of church officials.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Popular priest, Father Corapi, defends claim against him
Posted on 03/21/2011 by alevy
Father John Corapi alluded to the failures of jumping to conclusions when priests are accused of sexual misconduct in the pedophile scandal of the Catholic Church when he spoke here at the AT&T Center last August to an estimated audience of more than 10,000.
He said he was not dismissing the true accusations, which he said rightly should yield justice. But he said there’s a knee-jerk response to pile on once an accusation is made.
He gave as an example a young priest he knew who was accused of sexual misconduct with a girl only a few years younger than the priest. Critics seem to lump in such nuanced cases with pedophile priests who molest children. Pedophile priests are rightly to be prosecuted, he said, but he lamented how easily innocent priests can be destroyed with a single, baseless accusation.
Such is the case he says he finds himself in now. He announced on his own web site that an adult woman who used to work for him accuses him falsely of broad misconduct from “sexual exploits” with her and other adult women to drug addiction. He’s been put on administrative leave — presumeably by his religious superior since he belongs to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity based in Robstown. And he vigorously and across the board denies any wrongdoing.
His criticism of such false claims is narrowly focused on the Catholic Church for not vetting accusations first before making them public. Consequently, he says, the priest is assumed guilty and never recovers even though he may be exonerated later.
Corapi has built a stellar base of loyal fans who see him as a no-nonsense leader protecting the orthodox heritage of the Catholic faith and filling a void created by priests too worried about being politically correct to speak the truth. He’s frank and unapologetic in his inspirational talks on Catholic TV’s EWTN and in forums such as the one in San Antonio last fall.
Here’s a blog by Pat Archbold in National Catholic Register about the situation.
Love or hate him, there’s no denying Corapi is a starkly different priest than you’ll find in an average parish these days. And his prodigal son story before joining the priesthood gives him an appealing dimension missing in many priests whose clerical lives lack aspects of relatability for lay people.
By announcing this accusation himself, he got out front on it. It’s a smart, tactical move whether you suspect he’s guilty or innocent. The spotlight turns on to the accuser and time to see how credible the accusation is. And it also raises the question he raises about the fairness of the Catholic Church in its process of vetting these types of claims.
Father Corapi, a popular preacher, put on administrative leave
By Catholic News Service -Posted: 3/21/2011
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CNS) -- Father John Corapi, a popular author and preacher who has had speaking engagements all over the world, has been placed on administrative leave from priestly ministry over an accusation of misconduct.
"We have received an allegation that Father Corapi has behaved in a manner unbecoming of a priest and are duty-bound to conduct an investigation into this accusation," said Father Gerard Sheehan, a spokesman for Father Corapi's community, the Texas-based Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
Father Sheehan, who has the title "regional priest servant," issued the statement March 18 on behalf of the community.
"It is important to keep in mind that this action in no way implies Father Corapi is guilty of the allegation," Father Sheehan said. "It is equally important to know that, based on the information we have received thus far, the claim of misconduct does not involve minors and does not arise to the level of criminal conduct."
The matter will "be investigated internally," he said. Father Sheehan did not reveal the exact nature of the allegation.
In a March 19 statement, Father Corapi said, "All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned." His statement was posted on his website, www.fathercorapi.com.
He said he learned on Ash Wednesday, March 9, that a former employee "sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women."
Father Sheehan told Catholic News Service that Bishop William M. Mulvey of Corpus Christi has instructed the religious community to ask two priests who are not clergy of the diocese and who are not members of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity to investigate the allegation. The two priests have not yet been named.
In his statement, Father Sheehan added that "unless and until information suggests otherwise," the allegation made against Father Corapi "will not be referred to civil authorities."
If officials of the religious community learn that the accusation involves a violation of criminal civil law, he said they would refer the matter to civil authorities.
In his statement, Father Corapi complained that the bishops' procedures to protect minors from sex abuse by church personnel are "being applied broadly to respond to all complaints," whether the complaint is deemed "to be credible or not."
"I'll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty 'just in case,' then, through the process, determining if he is innocent," Father Corapi said. "The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known.
"I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers and civil and criminal attorneys have stated publicly that the procedure does grave damage to the accused from the outset, regardless of rhetoric denying this, and has little regard for any form of meaningful due process," he added.
It was not the first time Father Corapi has criticized the zero-tolerance policy mandated by the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."
In an address at the Call to Holiness conference in Michigan in 2002, Father Corapi called the policy "unjust." He said there was no question the church needed to remove serial molesters or any priest who posed a threat. But he said there was "a radical difference" between a child-molester priest who "just wallows in it" and a priest removed because he was accused of one long-ago incident but who repented and went on to have 25-30 years of fruitful ministry.
According to his website, Father Corapi has traveled more than 2 million miles preaching the Gospel since his 1991 ordination by Pope John Paul II. He has preached in 49 of the 50 states, all of the Canadian provinces except Newfoundland, and several other foreign countries.
Father Corapi often tells audiences his story of his late vocation to the priesthood and his life before that, when he knew both success and failure, from gaining millions of dollars in real estate to being penniless, homeless and addicted to cocaine. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Besides television and radio, he also preaches about the Catholic faith using the Internet and various other multimedia formats. He is the author of several books and has produced a number of multimedia products.
A native of Hudson, N.Y., he makes his home in Kalispell, Mont.
Father Corapi, 63, is widely known from his appearances on the EWTN cable TV channel, as a guest homilist in churches, and his many speaking engagements.
Founded in 1958, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity is based in the Diocese of Corpus Christi. It is comprised of priests, brothers, deacons, sisters and laity.
Its website says the community's "primary apostolate is to serve the areas of deepest apostolic need."
Its members serve in missions around the world, working in parishes, and ministering to migrants, refugees, homeless people, among others. They also are involved in education, catechetics, evangelization, and marriage and family life. The community also has an outreach to prisoners and drug addicts.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests