As an atheist, religion was a natural repellent. Not only did the teachings or ideas of religion come across as toxic to me, but also the hypocrisy of their members. This was louder, so to speak. I think my atheists friends can relate to what I am referring to. Jews claim to believe in the Torah which says to welcome strangers (Deuteronomy 10:19), Christians claimed to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44) and Muslims claim Islam to be a religion of peace. However, we have Jewish cults such as the Orthodox or Hasidic living isolated from other groups, how is that welcoming strangers? Then we have Christians who shun their enemies, kick gay kids out of their homes and what not. Finally, we have Muslims claiming to be "for peace" while taking every opportunity to crash planes into buildings or blowing others up on buses with bombs. These things all crossed my mind and I am sure crosses the minds of atheists today. Bad behavior, behavior that contradicts a religion's premise is probably the biggest turn off for any atheist.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is not immune from bad behaving people. Today, I was caught up in a Facebook drama due to a grudge this older individual who is expected to be mature, instigated. This individual named Al Saqqal friended me on Facebook. As many of you know, I accept anyone and follow back anyone. I do not care if they are Catholic or not; if they are theist or atheist; if they are gay or straight; at one point, I even had a transgender man following me on Twitter. Those who taught me the Catholic faith as I made the transition from atheism taught me to accept others, to love others, to welcome others, to befriend and understand others. This was what was grounded into me by holy clergy, religious and lay people who I have met in the course of my life. Sticking by this, I accepted Saqqal's request think he just wanted to follow me or see my profile. However, when I posted my post regarding Fr. Rosica's block party (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/10/rosica-block-party.html), Saqqal commented on my post on Facebook. At first, I had a civil exchange with Saqqal defending Fr. Rosica. This changed when I showed Saqqal evidence of Rosica's bad behavior. Saqqal insisted that I had no evidence so when I provided him with hard evidence showing Rosica's tweets, his attack on Vox Cantoris and cited canon law regarding the behavior that is expected of the clergy, Saqqal, who claims to be a psychotherapist but appears to work in construction sent me this angry response attacking me and stating that I was "obsessive," "compulsive," and "a disturbed person." See the screen capture here:
Notice his immaturity, ad hominem and libelous remarks against my character simply for showing him evidence of Rosica's bad behavior. See the full exchange here: (https://www.facebook.com/sacerdotus.michael/posts/636941649742743?comment_id=638155236288051¬if_t=feed_comment). Furthermore, I had been invited to join the Facebook group "We Support Fr. Corapi" and joined it. In the group, I shared the news of Fr. Corapi's possible return which no one knew about. The post was a hit with members there so I continued posting my other content since I saw others posted similar things. All was fine. People enjoyed my posts and I received many likes, see these screen captures provided to me by a friend on Facebook:
Again, all was fine until Saqqal posted a thread attacking me, making me look like if I was attacking Fr. Corapi. Some members believed him and were also attacking me.
I clarified to them that I did not slander or attack Fr. Corapi. In fact, if you read my post here you will see that I ask my readers to pray for him (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/09/father-john-corapi-is-back.html). In the above screenshots, you can also see that I did not attack Fr. Corapi. I did acknowledge his misconduct which is heavily supported with evidence but stated that he needs our prayers, not our judgment. Al Saqqal lied about me, slandered me, bearing false witness which is against the commandments and which led to a cyber lynch mob forming. I immediately posted on the group explaining that I did nothing wrong and that Saqqal was slandering me. Moreover, I contacted the group's administrators hoping they would take action to defuse the attacks from Saqqal. However, instead of stopping the attacker, they blocked me from the group and their own Facebook profiles! Here are the messages I sent them:
Unbelievable right? These people are either Saqqal sock puppets or lack a moral compass and cannot tell right from wrong. Moreover, I questioned Saqqal as to why he is targeting me with libelous statements and he became defensive, so I asked him to refrain from contacting me, see here:
I advise all Catholics to avoid this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/cbmccabe. It seems to be a cult instead of a Catholic group dedicated to Catholicism and of course, prayers for Fr. Corapi which is the best support for him. Here is a post by Saqqal sounding like a cult fanatic believing Corapi is innocent when hard evidence exists showing he did in fact misbehave. He posted:
Can anyone say Kool Aid?
While I like Fr. Corapi and enjoyed viewing him on EWTN, not to mention that one of his professors in Connecticut taught me; I cannot excuse or defend his misconduct like Al Saqqal and these other so-called Catholics in this group are doing. However, I will not judge or condemn his person either, that is God's job. He deserves our prayers and not our judgment. I can only go by the facts which were provided via the investigation that took place.
Furthermore, Saqqal claims there is no evidence, but there is. A bishop or religious superior cannot suspend or remove a priest whenever he feels like it. There has to be evidence that warrants this extreme action. Saqqal and members of that cult-like Facebook group are falling into the fallacy of apriorism as many atheists often do. They are denying the evidence presented because it does not conform to their cognitive bias. Saqqal and the members in this group see Corapi as a cult personality who they have to be loyal to. Human beings (both atheist and religious) often do this. They are susceptible to certain personalities who they will defend even to the death. The members of this Facebook group exhibit many of the signs of a cult:
- "Powerful and exclusive dedication/devotion to an explicit person or creed.
- They use of “thought-reform” programmes to integrate, socialize, persuade and therefore control members.
- A well thought through recruitment, selection and socialization process.
- Attempts to maintain psychological and physical dependency among cult members.
- Cults insist on reprogramming the way people see the world.
- Consistent exploitation of group members specifically to advance the leaders goals.
- Cults nearly always go in for milieu control signals: a different,unfamiliar setting with different rules, terms, behaviour patterns.
- Ultimately using psychological and physical harm to cult members, their friends and relatives and possibly the community as a whole."
These people cannot process reality due to their dedication and devotion to Corapi. Corapi was very charismatic. This type of personality often caters to those who are feeble minded and who feel the need to be led. There is no doubt that Fr. Corapi made some stupid mistakes that cost him his vocation.
Look at what his order and his bishop found and put in an official statement:
"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."
Let us suppose what the religious order and bishop found was false. Corapi had the right to appeal with the Vatican. Canon law 221 §1 states "Christ's faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church, before the competent ecclesiastical forum in accordance with the law." He did not do this. Moreover, he could have sued the bishop and his religious order for defamation. Again, he did not do this. Therefore, it follows that he is guilty of wrongdoing and sought not further damage his reputation. His back was pushed against the wall, so to speak. Notice that when the allegations came forward he created that Blacksheep site claiming that he was targeted by an agenda. However, as soon as the evidence came out regarding the texts, bank accounts etc, he disappeared. The site was removed, He just vanished, possibly hoping that people will forget. Again, if he was innocent then all he had to do was file an appeal to the Vatican like Fr. Pavone did when his bishop prevented him from exercising his ministry. They would have cleared him and put him back to work after it was proven that he was innocent. Corapi did not do this nor made any attempt for obvious reasons: evidence against him. Bishops and religious orders do not suspend priests or religious brothers just because they wanted to suspend them. They can only do so when there is evidence.
So let us look at the main facts:
- 1) Corapi filed a suit against the accuser for breaching an agreement she made with him to keep quiet. He paid her $100,000
- 2) Others were part of that contract to keep his secrets, a secret.
- 3) His emails and other records showed he had sexual relationships and cohabitation with women in California and Montana
- 4) He used alcohol and drugs
- 5) His texts showed he sext or sent nude photos with more than one woman in Montana
- 6) He had a mansion, luxury boats, cars etc.
All of this was found out during the investigation. Saqqal and the Facebook group members can deny all they want, but how can the SOLT religious order, bishop and investigators fabricate the sext photos, emails, phone records etc? Why would Corapi even make a contract with his accuser to keep quiet and offered her $100,000? Paying hush money is a clear indication that something fishy is going on. He is clearly guilty of misconduct based on the evidence discovered via the investigations.
As a former atheist, I was formed academically to think critically and objectively. No one, nothing was "sacred" to me. Everything and everyone were subject to any questioning and criticism. That being stated, I have nothing against Fr. Corapi, Al Saqqal or the members in the Facebook group. I am concerned for each, especially the psychological and spiritual states of the latter which seem to be unstable. What Fr. Corapi did is solely on him. I will not defend his actions nor present him as a canonized saint. He is a sinner just like you and I. As a sinner, he deserves our mercy and prayers. He made many mistakes and relapsed to his former life. We all do the same. It is disturbing to know that some "Catholics" will go so far as to slander and block a future priest just to defend a delusion - a lie. That is troublesome indeed. By the time I am Corapi's age, most likely the majority of the members in this group who believed Saqqal's lies against me will be either in heaven, hell or purgatory. I think they should focus their efforts to support vocations like mine instead of excusing a priest who abused his. Moreover, I doubt Fr. Corapi would approve of the behavior of Saqqal and others in this Facebook group. It is unchristian and demented.
The behavior demonstrated by Saqqal with his libel, slander, defamation, calumny as well as the lack of mercy on the part of administrators and other group members is a slap to the face of Christ. Their behavior is what contributes to the growth of atheism or indifferentism where one believes in God but believes organized religion is a fraud. Let us pray for these people who are aiding Satan the father of lies by perpetuating lies and excusing bad behavior. They do not understand the Catholic faith.