The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Montana priest suspended for alleged misconduct; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Yesterday, it was disclosed that a Kalispell Montana priest has been suspended because of allegations that he sexually exploited an adult woman.
We don’t know the age or gender of Fr. John 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 Robstown-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.
So if he’s been suspended, some church official or church officials are violating that promise by not publicly announcing his suspension and the reasons for it. This apparent move – quietly or secretly suspending a cleric accused of sexual misdeeds – is precisely what bishops have done for decades. Catholics deserve better. The vulnerable need better. Bishops have promised better. But secrecy about alleged sexual misconduct continues to be “job one” for many Catholic officials.
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.
Statement by Barbara Dorris of SNAP
It’s outrageous that a prominent Catholic priest has been suspended because of credible allegations of sexual misconduct, but his supervisors can’t be honest about it.
A spokesman for the Robstown-based Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity can’t bring himself to use the words “sexual abuse” or “sexual exploitation” or “sexual misconduct.” Fr. John Corapi has been accused of abusing his power and position, sexually, with a woman. But SOLT spokesman Fr. Gerard Sheehan only says Corapi has been accused of conduct “unbecoming a priest.”
If Catholic officials can’t manage to even talk about sexual misdeeds, how can we have even the slightest confidence that they can address sexual misdeeds in any effective way?
Again, we call on those with any information or suspicions about Corapi to contact criminal authorities, not church authorities.
(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, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
This story mentions his home in Kalispell - http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=13127
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.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests