Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sad, but unsurprising, part deux- l'affair Corapi UPDATED

Life is weird. This afternoon I was browsing through the website of the Carthusian Charterhouse of the Transfiguration, the only Carthusian foundation in North America. This Charterhouse is located in southern Vermont. While browsing I came across a quote from St. Augustine about the deep need we all have for solitude, for silence: “For lovers of this world, there is no harder work than not working.” This made me think even of how hard we work at having fun, comparing that with the simplicity I knew in my years growing up. So struck was I by this great insight that I wanted to post it as my Facebook status (ironic, I know) with a short comment to effect that chronic vacationing and “having fun” were often not re-creational, but distracting, thus falling under the purview of the great bishop of Hippo-Regius’ insight.

No sooner did I log onto FB than I saw where Deacon Greg had posted a statement by the head of John Corapi’s religious order, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T.), Fr. Gerald Sheehan, concerning the allegations against Corapi, basically stating that the order has determined what were previously only held to be allegations of sexual misconduct with adult women, along with drug and alcohol abuse, are, sadly, true. I couldn’t help but be dumbfounded by the stark study in contrast between the Carthusian life and what Fr. Sheehan’s statement reveals about the life of the professed religious order priest, John Corapi, apparently stretching back sometime:
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
I am honest enough to state, yet again, that I was never a fan either of Corapi’s style, nor much of the content of his teaching and preaching. Prior to the events dating back to March of this year, when these allegations first surfaced, which reached a crescendo with his dramatic decision to leave his religious order and the priesthood a few weeks ago, I do not believe I had mentioned him even once on these pages, largely due to the fact that my purpose here is not to engage in polemics, especially of the intra-ecclesial kind. I take no joy at all in anyone’s demise, especially that of someone who God really and truly used to draw people into the Church and back into the Church, whether I “liked” them or not.


I can only imagine how devastating this must be for those members of the faithful to whom Corapi means so much. It is God who draws us to Himself, regardless of the circumstances or people He uses to draw us. It is always first and foremost the work of the Holy Spirit. We have many ways of speaking about this truth, but St. Paul’s remains the very best: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7- ESV). What called this verse to mind was remembering the title of the autobiography of the greatest media priest ever, albeit one who remained faithful and true, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Treasures in Clay.

In addition to these findings, I advise people to be ready for other findings detailing Corapi’s appalling dishonesty about his military service, including changing and altering his story as facts about his duties in the Army were made public, and possibly his academic achievements.

Rather than end with some ambiguous call to pray for John Corapi, I ask all my readers to specifically pray that he will comply with the order of his religious superior, Fr. Gerald Sheehan, who, “under obedience,” has directed Corapi “to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there” and “also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.” I realize complying with these two directives will require of Corapi, who has shown such defiant pride even as his situation grew worse, a superhuman act of humility, for which he needs God’s grace. If, after a season of penance, of publically “coming clean” about his lies and exaggerations, which will certainly require much prayer and fasting, he discerns that a call to the religious life is not for him, then let him leave absolved and in the church’s good graces to live the abundant life that he publically proclaimed across many years before millions of people. I have to admit that those who vehemently rejected the idea that Corapi follow the example of St. Pio of Pietrelcina were correct, just not for the reasons many of them supposed. After all, Padre Pio was innocent.

In the wake of this let's not forget and in light of this grow nostalgic and act as though holiness is a sentimental remembrance of things past. Let us instead acknowledge holiness as a present reality. To fail to do this is to reduce saints in just the way Dorothy Day did not want to be reduced by being canonized. As Han Urs Von Balthasar wrote in his still timely little book, Razing the Bastions: holiness "is always something more than the wisdom of the tradition, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit for us in today's age." Hence, we must learn, as Bl. John XXIII taught us, to discern the signs of the times. Turning to Balthasar again, it is important to note with regard to discernment- "As soon as holiness appears on the scene, anxiety and wrangling fall silent, even if the opposition (especially on the part of the tradition) does not."

UPDATE: There are three additional posts about the Corapi affair to which I would draw your attention dear reader:

- The Anchoress' SOLT and Corapi- UPDATED- wherein, among giving a good overview and fine perspective on this whole, sorry affair, she rightly takes the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) to task for doing the equivalent in religious life of handing a teenage boy whiskey, car keys, and a pornographic magazine

- Frank Weathers' You've Been Corapi Rolled. What Now?, where Frank applies the soothing balm of Rick Astley to the scratches inflicted by the so-called Black Sheepdog

- Mark Shea's Mercy and Forgiveness for Fr. Corapi and His Fans in which Mark debunks what he accurately calls Corapi's "Special Forces Hero persona" and states succinctly something that all of us in the Catholic blogging business know- "You learn a lot about yourself from total strangers on the Internet." Mark also has some wonderful words of reconciliation, not of the namby-pamby variety, but the real stuff, which means wrestling with some unpleasant truths. I especially commend him for taking on Michael Voris' shameful diatribe, Corapi and the Blogs. I have to publicly express something I came to see a few weeks ago and that this post proves, Mark Shea is without doubt one of the most courageous and charitable Catholics in the blogosphere.

-Courtesy, once again of the intrepid newsman, Deacon Greg Kandra, is the blog post of Bishop Gracida, the bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, who granted the order to which Corapi belong(s?)(ed?) the status of an institute of diocesan right, weighs in via his own blog. I agree with "Daniel T", who posted the 8th comment on Deacon Greg's post to the effect that instead of publicly critiquing the current bishop of Corpus Christi, who effectively inherited this situation, and the leaders of SOLT, Bishop Gracida would be better served by explaining his own actions.

UPDATE II: I also culled from Deacon Greg's useful post, Phil Lawler's very objective piece, Corapi: Why were warning signs ignored?

Lawler’s comparison of Corapi to Marcel Maciel Degollado, disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, reminded me of the account of the latter’s death at the end of Jason Berry’s two-part exposé that appeared in the National Catholic Reporter. Berry takes this account from the Madrid newspaper, El Mundo, admitting that it cannot be independently verified: “After the priests got Maciel to a Legion house in Jacksonville, Fla., he reportedly grew belligerent when [Father] Corcuero tried to anoint him, yelling, ‘I said no!’ The article says Maciel refused to make a final confession, and states flatly that he ‘did not believe in God's pardon.’

I pray that I never read such a horrifying account of death as long as I live.

7 comments:

  1. This is beautifully thought out and written. Thank you!

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  2. I hope that Corapi does the right thing and comes clean. He hurts the Church by keeping this going.

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  3. This may be one of the best posts that I have read on this topic. This post actually covers a lot of ground. Thank you, it is a gift.

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  4. I dearly love the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration's website. There is so much to read. Are you familiar, Deacon, with the IFSB (International Fellowship of St. Bruno) Yahoo! Group? It is a group of laymen who are interested in the Carthusian way of life; they send out a daily digest of messages, including copious extracts from the Meditations of Guigo. Well worth joining if you would like some real meat each day upon checking your E-mail inbox.

    -Sean

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  5. I appreciate the encouraging comments. This is truly a difficult thing to post about, especially when trying to remain charitable, which can never be reduced to merely being nice.

    Sean, I have not heard of the group, I will have to check it out. Thanks.

    Dcn Scott

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  6. "In the wake of this let's not forget and in light of this grow nostalgic and act as though holiness is a sentimental remembrance of things past. Let us instead acknowledge holiness as a present reality."
    Out of the whole Pandora's box, you have gotten down to the butterfly that is hope. Thank you for pointing us the way through and beyond this present darkness.

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  7. There is still no evidence of John Corapi doing anything wrong if anything he is guilty of helping a prostitute.... picked her up out of the streets, gave her a job,helped both Her and her Husband have a decent life.She became his God-daughter..When Corapi would not agree to her employment pay that she wanted ....she swore She would bring him down.. and she did.
    NOBODY can sat ANYTHING about this case it is not over.
    Quit making stuff up.

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