Matt Abbot wrote a post in September of this year claiming that troubled priest John Corapi may be returning or reconciling with the Church. I gave the news the benefit of doubt but after reflecting on it, I am skeptical. We have not seen any evidence of Corapi's return. After examining the available evidence surrounding Corapi, it seems that he may not be returning to the faith after all. Scandal is not a new thing in the Catholic Church. The Church has faced many scandals since her creation in 33 A.D. First Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for 30 silver pieces. Next, Peter denied Christ three times while the other Apostles except John ran off and went into hiding. This was just the beginning. Each century that followed presented even more scandals of different kinds. Bishop against bishop, patriarch against patriarch, and pope against pope. From heresies to sexual misconduct and theft, the Church has experienced it all.
During the pontificate of Saint Pope John Paul II the sex abuse scandal broke out and many fell including Cardinal law and the founder of the Legionaries of Christ who many saw as another Father Josemari Escriva of Opus Dei. When Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was the Pope, his butler stole private documents and revealed them to the world. Today, a repeat took place with a monsignor and laywoman doing the same along with a priest revealing he is gay and with a partner. Scandals will always happen anywhere. Humans are fallen creatures. This is why scandals do not phase me at all. When they do happen, I do not run and panic or cry out 'conspiracy!' I pray for all those involved but acknowledge the facts of any scandal even if it brings me enemies or gets me banned from Facebook groups after fellow Catholics slander me (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/11/saqqal-corapi-facebook-cult.html). One scandal which is still talked about today is that of John Corapi who was accused by a former employee for sexual misconduct and abuse of drugs as well as alcohol. The priest was immediately suspended as an investigation took hold on Ash Wednesday in 2011. In respond, many Catholics who were fans of his work were shocked. Some believed the accusations without seeing the evidence, basing their decision on his previous life of drugs and sex abuse. Others reserved judgment until the facts came in; however, when they did come in, some of these still remained confident that Corapi was a victim of some conspiracy to silence him.
The entire scandal is mysterious and mind-boggling. Corapi claimed to be innocent but never followed through with his defense. He claimed that there were factions in the hierarchy that wanted him to "be gone" but never named names. Moreover, he went to the extreme of creating a pseudonym 'BlackSheep Dog' and even rebranded himself as such starting a website, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook accounts. The name was even trademarked (see: http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4803:o7idax.3.9). Corapi seemed to have branched away from Catholic ministry and started a business where he would speak to a "broader audience," as he put it. New images of Corapi appeared with a dyed beard, an expensive leather jacket looking nothing like his image of a religious order priest wearing a gray habit. His order, the Society of Our Lady of the most Holy Trinity kept accusing him of not conforming to their way of life. Corapi claims that his order told him to support himself because they could not support his work; however, I have not found any evidence of this claim so we only have his word to go by. I tried to search the order's website but it is no longer operational see: www.societyofourlady.net. From what I have found, the women religious part of the order does takes vows so I am assuming that the male one does as well. If they do, then I do not see how an order would permit Corapi to have millions of dollars and live in a compound in Montana. This would clearly defy the vow of poverty. Corapi would only state this:
My Response Regarding Tuesday’s Press Release From SOLT.
Posted by The Black SheepDog 5:00 EST
I am going to answer in a simple, straight forward way what seem to me the main elements of the action taken against me by the Diocese of Corpus Christi and the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
Regarding my personal financial situation—From the earliest days (more than twenty years ago) the Founder of the Society of Our Lady, Fr. James Flanagan, encouraged me to support myself and the Church as well. He said they could not afford to support my ministry and me personally because of the unique nature of the mission. At every step of the way, through the entire past twenty years, the Society of Our Lady’s leadership knew of my financial independence. As Fr. Flanagan encouraged, I have supported SOLT and myself from ‘day-one.‘ I have never relied on the Society for shelter, clothing, transportation, medical care, or legal counsel and instead, using my history of success in business, set up my mission as any savvy business man would, meanwhile continuing to support the Society and many other Catholic Charities.
Regarding the charge of sexual impropriety—This song of greed has been sung many times before. I have never had any promiscuous or even inappropriate relations with her. Never.
Regarding the investigation—As standard practice, my legal counsel advised me not to cooperate with the investigation until I was able to determine that the Commission’s process was fair and I had adequate rights to defend myself. Questions that certainly qualify the validity of any legal case have never been answered by the so called “fact finding team.” They refuse to reveal, and therefore utilize, any of the so-called evidence perhaps because if ‘the bad guy’ were truly revealed it may be revealed that he is really not that bad. Clearly, as my legal counsel has portrayed, the evidence supplied by the accused (of which my counsel is not permitted access to) must not have any substance.
Regarding ‘hush money’—I never paid anybody off to remain silent. On two occasions there were standard severance agreements executed with former employees and independent contractors. These agreements contained very common non-disclosure provisions. Any attorney who would not include such provisions in such agreements would rightly be guilty of negligent and actionable conduct.
Regarding my resignation—I resigned because the process used by the Church is grossly unjust, and, hence, immoral. I resigned because I had no chance from the beginning of a fair and just hearing. As I have indicated from the beginning of all this, I am not extinguished! If I were to commit to the suggestion of the Society, then I would essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die. However, I can not deny this desire to share aspects of Truth and Hope with all those willing to hear. This is what I shall continue to fight for! Many are not going to appreciate this decision, and I respect that. For those who can accept it, onward!
Corapi seemed confident that he was innocent and a victim of a conspiracy. However, after a back and forth between himself and his order, Corapi filed a lawsuit against his accuser which I think destroyed his credibility see: http://jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/RedactedCharge.pdf. Not only was he committing detraction and going against everything he preached on, but he revealed that he had the accuser sign a confidentiality agreement with him. She was paid $100,000 by Corapi. However, if she violated the agreement, she had to pay him back the $100,000. Why would a Catholic priest need to do this? What did he want to remain quiet? Red flags started to rise after this lawsuit. Moreover, Corapi finally gave up after the order published a statement detailing his misconduct, they posted this:
TUESDAY, JULY 5, 2011
Press Release Concerning Fr John Corapi from SOLT Regional Priest Servant
July 5, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From: Rev. Gerard Sheehan, SOLT Regional Priest Servant Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Robstown, Texas
Fr. 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 Fr. 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 Fr. 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 Fr. John Corapi, mailed SOLT a signed letter detailing allegations of Fr. 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, Fr. Corapi filed a civil lawsuit against his principal accuser. He contended that she had defamed him and breached her contract. The contract, according to 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 Fr. 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 Fr. 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 Fr. Corapi's e-mails, 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 Fr. 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 Fr. 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 Fr. 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.
Posted by SOLT Webmaster at 1:58 PM
After this, Corapi vanished. His accounts were removed, his videos deleted. The new business rebranded as "The BlackSheep Dog" all disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared. EWTN and other Catholic outlets immediately pulled his content. The whole thing left fans wondering what happened. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and was hoping Corapi would have been cleared; however, Corapi ran out of defenses. The fact that he did not follow through with his defense, his overall behavior and comments convinced me that he had to be guilty of the things he was accused of. We live in a society where people are innocent until proven guilty. If Corapi felt he was innocent, he would have won any case against him. If the statement by his order was false, he could have sued the SOLT order for defamation of character and libel, but he did not. He chose to disappear into the sunset, so to speak. Moreover, what of the evidence that the investigation found (texts, photos, financial records etc)? Also, many people do not know that Corapi was apparently arrested in Sacramento, California in 1999 for drugs and drinking under the influence. Note that in a statement defending himself, he never addressed the charges made against him regarding sex with women in California.
This is what I found when I searched for his arrest record:
As you can see, an arrest record does exist under the name "John A. Corapi." Despite this and other court records, I really do not understand why some Catholics feel the need to think that Corapi is being targeted. He brought this upon himself and, unfortunately, paid the price. Nevertheless, his order welcomed him back, but he chose to remain in his compound. If it is true that his order told him to support himself and did not monitor his finances as he claimed in a statement, that is still not a reason to live lavishly. Not all priests take vows, but Canon law still states that they must live simply and not live in a way that "smacks of worldliness" or engage in trade/commerce (Can. 282, Can. 286). So Corapi should not have been allowed to own boats, expensive vehicles, homes etc nor run a business.
Moreover, a priest must have faculties to work in an area (Can. 265, Canon 745). He cannot just up and leave, move wherever he wants and work as a priest. The local ordinary must be notified via letter from his current ordinary. There is no solid reason for Corapi to have been allowed to live on his own. Why did he choose community life if he was going to live a solitary one? Mistakes were made on both sides in my opinion. This is a big problem in religious orders. They do not keep track of their members. We have seen how many took advantage of this and abused minors. Moreover, Corapi prided himself on being a priest but he made some comments that put down the very core of the priesthood, the Holy Eucharist:
"I didn't do very much of that, quite honestly, in the twenty years that I did minister. My particular mission was speaking, and writing, and teaching—not so much within the sacraments, but outside of them, in conjunction with them. What I'm going to be doing in the future is pretty much the same thing . . . "
The comments above were made by Corapi when he was suspended. He seemed to not care at all about his suspension and stated that his work was "speaking, writing and teaching." In reality, a priest's main task is to administer the Sacraments (Catechism 1551 -53). It seems based on his statement that Corapi saw the priesthood as a career, not a vocation from God. This makes sense in light of what I discovered. I found Corapi listed in the social network for professionals Linked In. He is listed as a writer and speaker and is apparently doing this to support himself which is what he said he would do "in the future" after his suspension, see:
The photos above are on the account for Linked in which appears via a search using "John Corapi" or "Dr. John Corapi." Here we see a thinner and happier looking Corapi who apparently is earning a living off of public speaking and writing. There is no visible evidence of Catholicism in what appears to be his home in the background. No images of Jesus or statues of Mary and the saints. There is not even a medal or scapular on the person of Corapi. Instead, there is what appears to be a tattoo on his chest and his personal belongings which appear to be motorcycle related. Based on his profile, it seems like Corapi moved on from his life in the Church. Meanwhile, his loyal fans are still wondering about him and attack anyone who acknowledges the facts of his fall from grace. I think it is time for his fans to realize that he may not be returning. Matt Abbot claims his sources are reliable but based on Corapi's Linked In page it seems that Corapi has found a new way of life outside of the Church and is content with it. This is unfortunate indeed (his absence in the Church). We may never know the entire story but based on the evidence we can assume that the charges against him are factual and that he had no defense for them and had to go off the radar, so to speak.
In any event, we must pray for him. Hopefully, he is still Catholic and attends Mass while at the same time frequenting the Sacraments. His talks and retreats brought many people back to the faith. God works in mysterious ways. He often used the weak to do His will on Earth. Hopefully one day we may learn that Corapi did return and hopefully all Catholics will be waiting with open arms. Only God is the judge. Scandals like that of Corapi and others do affect many people. However, we all must realize that what matters is the Catholic faith. We cannot get caught up on personalities in the Church. The Church does not create and should not create celebrities that we have to look up to. We have Jesus as the one to look up to. Turning a Catholic priest, nun or layperson into a celebrity is dangerous. It goes against the first commandment. Those that do this start to become delusional and do not perceive events properly. They see things via conspiracies and paranoia. If your admiration for Corapi or anyone puts you at odds with the Church, other clergy or other Catholics then it is time for you to reflect on this and get psychological and spiritual help. God forbid I should fall like Corapi, Albert Cutie or anyone else and those who grew in faith because of me find out, I would want them to succeed where I had failed. They should not abandon the faith because I may have messed up. Moreover, they should not attack other Catholics for my sake. It is all about Jesus, not me, Corapi, the Pope or anyone else. Each one of us is Christ's servants and are not perfect. Scandals can cause pain and doubt. We must channel those things and increase our faith. As Ovid wrote, “Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim. (Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.).”