Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Corapi Again: The Rest of the Story, as His Religious Community Issues Damning Statement

Well, now we know.  The rest of the story.  Or at least more of the story than we've known thus far, since all we've really known about what was happening to Father John Corapi was from his own fulsome and exceptionally self-serving news releases about the situation.  And from the slimy retired bishop of Corpus Christi, RenĂ© Gracida, who assured us that Corapi was the victim of a witch hunt by some members of the hierarchy, and would return to the priesthood after being vindicated.

What we know now: Corapi's latest Black Sheep dog media blast, and his persistent misrepresentation of the truth in news release after news release (as well as his inappropriate attacks on his accuser, in an attempt to discredit her before her evidence had been heard) have forced the hand of his religious community, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT).  Which issued a statement yesterday summarizing what has taken place up to this point in the investigation of the accusations against Corapi, and precisely what those accusations are.

And to call the SOLT statement sensational would be an understatement.  SOLT reveals:

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.

SOLT responded by appointing a three-person investigating team comprised of a priest-canonist, a psychiatrist, and a lawyer, one of whom was a lay person, the other two of whom were religious.  While this team was doing its work, Corapi filed suit against the "principal accuser" (and note that this phrase implies that, as in the Euteneueur case, there is more than one accuser--though thus far, we've heard details from only one of those accusers in both Corapi's and Euteneuer's case).

The gist of Corapi's lawsuit: it was to invoke the gag contract he had forced the accuser to sign when she left his employment.  It was to silence her.  And the SOLT report states, as well, the following sensational and very pertinent piece of information:

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. 

Despite Corapi's attempt to shut down the investigation, the team found the following damning evidence in Father Corapi's emails, public sources, and testimony of witnesses--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.

And the Catholic right now has egg on its face all over again.  For all kinds of reasons.  In the first place, there's the fact that Fathers Corapi and Euteneuer were not merely admired and followed by large numbers of American Catholics.  They were lionized.  They were adored.  They were demi-gods of the Catholic right upholding Catholic orthodoxy in its purest form.

Their hard-right stances, their bogus embellished military careers, their machismo, their profuse and repeated statements that they were loyal to the magisterium in an exceptional way surpassing the loyalty of most other priests: all of these gave them a cachet few other priests in the American church have enjoyed in recent years.

And this notoriety fame and rock-star image were all bought and paid for by wealthy right-wing Catholics who enabled Corapi and Euteneuer to skirt canonical regulations about what a priest may do when and where.  They flew around the country on one engagement after another, with little supervision.  They appeared on the stage singly or in tandem, instructing the faithful on how to live their lives as more orthodox and more impeccably conservative Catholics.  They accumulated wealth--or, at least, Corapi seems to have done so.  Surprising wealth for a Catholic religious who has made a promise of poverty, as the SOLT statement reminds us, to have accumulated.

They had total entree at the most powerful Catholic media outlet in the nation, EWTN, which helped them in every way possible to massage their image, groom their public personae as the kind of bona fide and indubitably heterosexual manly man priests we need to take the priesthood back from the gays.  From the gays who, the Catholic right persists in claiming, have ruined the priesthood.  They've ruined it through their loose living, their propensity to do drugs, and their secret lives that inevitably embarrass the priesthood when those secret gay lives are discovered.

So we've been told over and over by the defenders of the faith, and so they're still telling us on Catholic blogs as they work overtime to keep alive the meme that the abuse crisis is all a manifestation of the gaying of the priesthood.  And of "pink" seminaries that churn out the loose-living, drug-using, secrets-keeping gay priests: note, for instance, the musings of Kansas Republican leader John Altevogt about these matters at the JimmyCSays site this week, in response to a discussion of the situation in the Kansas City diocese.

Ludicrous claims that Altevogt tries to make in response to a discussion of a situation in which a priest, Father Shawn Ratigan, who is a Corapi clone with his shaven head and beard and motorcycle, is accused of having collected pornographic pictures of female minors, while Altevogt wants--astonishingly--to keep on talking about the abuse crisis as a crisis caused by gay priests abusing pre-pubescent boys . . . .

And, of course, EWTN, in particular, which has done everything in its power to cultivate this gays-as-problem explanatory narrative about the abuse crisis, and to shove the manly Fathers Euteneuer and Corapi to the front of the stage as models for what an abuse-free priesthood might look like, once the nasty gays have been excluded from it, now has major, major egg on its face, and has no choice except to inform its viewers that SOLT has spilled the beans about Corapi.  EWTN, which has hawked Corapi's wares for him for years now, and which also hawked Euteneuer's with just as much energy . . . .

And I return to something I keep saying when I have written about both gentlemen on this blog in the past: what does their predictable downfall (since hints galore of the scandals that finally brought them down have littered the trail of their ministerial life, for anyone with eyes to see) say about us?  What does the idolization of these two men with clay feet and shady, doctored pasts say about us as American Catholics?

About our gullibility?  About our susceptibility to manipulation by powerful, dishonest, morally dubious authority figures--including, yes, many of our own bishops?  About our willingness to be duped and to keep throwing our dollars into collection plates, when we have every reason in the world to know that the money we donate to our church is likely going to be misused?

What does the dominance of the Euteneuer cult and the Corapi cult in the final decades of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century, as the gay community and gay priests have borne the brunt of blame for the problems of the priesthood, say about us as a people who live according to the values of the gospels?

Did those in authority really not know about the activities of both Fathers Corapi and Father Euteneuer that have only recently come to light?  Is it really believable that a priest who had "years of cohabitation" with a woman in two states and who abused illegal drugs left no tracks at all, as he engaged in these activities?  So that Catholic authorities are only now discovering what has been going on with Father Corapi for years, just as they claim they discovered what was happening in Euteneuer's ministry of exorcism, conducted as he flitted from place to place for several years with no supervision, only when a woman he admits abusing went public with the story of her abuse?

And if Catholic authority figures--and almost certainly the wealthy right-wing Catholics who have funded the "ministries" of Corapi and Euteneuer and colluded in covering up their unsavory activities--have long known about the egregious betrayal of their priesthood in which both men engaged, then what does it say about us American Catholics that we continue to remain passive in the hands of pastoral leaders whose claim to moral authority is so deeply tarnished at this point in our history?  And that we continue to remain passive in the hands of the wealthy right-wing political and economic interest groups that have funded the cover-ups?  And who continue funding the immoral diversionary attacks on the gays?

There's far more to the Corapi (and Euteneuer) stories than we yet know, I maintain.  And that more is already known to church officials and their wealthy handlers.  We know from bona fide evidence that more than one woman made charges against Father Euteneuer.  The SOLT statement tips us a card when it speaks of a "principal accuser" and of other "witnesses" who provided evidence to its fact-finding team, re: Corapi.

Whether we'll ever hear the full story of either priest's sordid activities in their years of idolization by many American Catholics, I very much doubt, however.

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