Popular preacher Father John Corapi announced in a blog post and video posted at his new website, BlackSheepDog.us, that he has no intention of obeying the orders of his superiors in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) to leave his Montana ranch to move back in with the community and to drop a defamation lawsuit against his “principal accuser.”
“If I were to commit to the suggestion of the Society, then I would essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die,” he said. “As I have indicated from the beginning of all this, I am not extinguished!”
Nor did he respond in detail to an unusually specific list of transgressions a SOLT statement said he had committed — which included drug use, sexual activity and impropriety, sacramental abuse, dishonesty and serious violations of his promise of poverty.
He did deny “promiscuous” relations with a woman he did not name, and said the founder of SOLT had given him permission, as “a savvy businessman,” to enjoy “financial independence.”
Part of the preacher’s popularity has rested on his extreme conversion story, from a life of substance abuse, promiscuity and great riches to a call to reform his life and become a priest. He was also known and appreciated for his muscular presentation of orthodoxy.
In the six-minute video, Father Corapi, who recently announced he was voluntarily leaving priestly ministry a few months after announcing he had been placed under administrative leave, wears a black leather Harley Davidson jacket, which creaks as he talks. He says he plans to embark soon on a mission to a “broader audience,” beginning with the release of an autobiography, Internet radio programs and podcasts.
“I would not have wished for it to end this way,” he said, occasionally appearing drained or dejected.
He also tells his supporters not to be bitter or “mad” at “the Church.” You are followers of Jesus and the Church, he said, not of me.
In the many hundreds of Internet comments left in response to the video, some former supporters quoted back to him his past exhortations to humility, obedience and trust in God.
Others were mystified that for months Father Corapi has not mentioned the Virgin Mary, the centerpiece of many of his former talks and the person to whom he has said he credited his priestly vocation.
The SOLT statement, signed by Father Gerard Sheehan, superior of the Corpus Christi, Texas-based religious group, said Father Corapi had not cooperated with its fact-finding investigation and that he had even obstructed the process by silencing key witnesses with tactics such as nondisclosure agreements, including one for which Father Corapi offered $100,000.
Although SOLT said it does not typically comment on personnel matters, it said it felt duty-bound in this case to “clear the record” because “Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals [his supporters] through his false statements and characterizations.”
The statement says, in part:
“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.”