Father Corapi Responds to SOLT

Priest leaving church
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On his Twitter feed (@JohnCorapi, no longer in use) on Wednesday, July 7, 2011, Father John Corapi indicated that a "Very special announcement" would be released on TheBlackSheepDog.us. The phrase seemed rather odd—reminiscent of an after-school special or an uncharacteristically somber episode of a sitcom.

Everyone expected the announcement to be a response to the statement released by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) on Tuesday. But how would Father Corapi respond to the very specific enumeration of sins and behavior in violation of the promises he took when he entered the priesthood? Would he acknowledge his faults, repent, drop his civil lawsuit against his accuser (a lawsuit which has hindered the investigation of her allegations against Father Corapi), and, in obedience, return to live with his brothers in SOLT? Could that be what a "Very special announcement" meant?

That might have made a very good after-school special, but here in the real world, a "Very special announcement" simply means that Father Corapi continues not only to deny the allegations, but to defy his superiors. "My Response Regarding Tuesday's Press Release From SOLT" is notable only for its somewhat more measured tone—no "Black Sheep Dog" here, though Father Corapi repeats his other mantra, "I am not extinguished!"

Father Corapi begins by stating that:

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.

And, in structure, the statement seems to do just that. In substance, however, it answers none of the points raised by Fr. Gerard Sheehan in SOLT's Tuesday statement. "Regarding my personal financial situation," Father Corapi essentially sidesteps SOLT's claim that his extensive possessions amount to "a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society." Instead, he notes that "the Founder of the Society of Our Lady, Fr. James Flanagan, encouraged me to support myself and the Church as well" and that, "At every step of the way, through the entire past twenty years, the Society of Our Lady's leadership knew of my financial independence." He notes that, "using my history of success in business, [I] set up my mission as any savvy businessman would," which neither denies that he (in the words of SOLT's statement) "holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats" or attempts to explain how those items are necessary to his ministry and "the unique nature of the mission."

"Regarding the charge of sexual impropriety," Father Corapi replies only that "I have never had any promiscuous or even inappropriate relations with" his accuser, while ignoring SOLT's claim that he had "years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute" and that he "has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana."

While SOLT outlined specifically the composition of the fact-finding team and discussed the procedures it was following, Father Corapi admits that, under the guidance of "my legal counsel," he has not cooperated with the investigation—a fact that SOLT's statement had already made clear. Because the fact-finding team has allegedly not provided Father Corapi or his counsel with all of the details offered in support of the allegations, Father Corapi claims that "the evidence supplied by the accused . . . must not have any substance."

Father Corapi refers to "hush money" (his quotation marks), implying that SOLT used that phrase in its statement on Tuesday. SOLT did not. Still, Father Corapi acknowledges that "On two occasions there were standard severance agreements executed with former employees and independent contractors," which "contained very common non-disclosure provisions." He does not deny that, in the words of SOLT's statement, "He offered the woman $100,000 to enter this agreement." Nor does he address SOLT's claim that the "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."

Finally, "Regarding my resignation," Father Corapi repeats his claim that "the process used by the Church is grossly unjust, and, hence, immoral." He does not explain why he waited over three months to resign when he claims that "I resigned because I had no chance from the beginning [emphasis mine] of a fair and just hearing."

Father Corapi's statement ends with a return to the melodrama that characterized his June 17 announcement (though the "Black Sheep Dog" does not make a return appearance):

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!

Father Corapi's nonresponse is unlikely to satisfy anyone but the most devoted of his followers. And it leaves open questions about his canonical status: While SOLT seems to have interpreted Father Corapi's initial resignation as a request to be dispensed from his vows and not just to resign from SOLT, Father Corapi has apparently not confirmed that request and has supposedly stated on his "Black Sheep Dog" Facebook page that he is not "requesting laicization."

That decision, however, may now be out of his hands. By not complying with the order of his superiors in SOLT and submitting in obedience, Father Corapi may well have opened himself up to a forced laicization.

Father Corapi may not be "extinguished," but with today's statement, he may well have ended his life as a Catholic priest.

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ThoughtCo. "Father Corapi Responds to SOLT." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/father-corapi-responds-to-solt-3970771. ThoughtCo. (2021, February 8). Father Corapi Responds to SOLT. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/father-corapi-responds-to-solt-3970771 ThoughtCo. "Father Corapi Responds to SOLT." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/father-corapi-responds-to-solt-3970771 (accessed May 30, 2023).