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Here is the HHS Compromise, be attentive because it gets complicated: “With respect to self-insured group health plans, the eligible organization would notify the third party administrator, which in turn would automatically work with a health insurance issuer to provide separate, individual health insurance policies at no cost for participants. The costs of both the health insurance issuer and third party administrator would be offset by adjustments in Federally-facilitated Exchange user fees that insurers pay.”

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Since the Archdiocese is self-insured, this would in effect mean that some of our employees would have to be insured by an outside organization, either in whole or in part. Look at all the actors in this play: (1) the Church; (2) the third party administrator; (3) an outside health insurance issuer; (4) the federal government; (5) the supplier of services; and (6) the insured person. The user fees are essentially a tax to insure that contraceptives are free and to pay the third party administrator. What happens to the viability of the self-insurance program if people opt out for the third party insurer?

In any case, I still think people are going to pay more for heart and blood-pressure medicine to make up the cost for free contraceptives. What insurance company will cover just contraception, sterilization and abortifacients without funds to shift from other medical coverage? I doubt federal fees with be sufficient. It will be exploited. Is the Church still morally culpable if we collaborate with other agents in such a scheme? Are we culpable for money given to the government to pay the insurance companies to supply people with contraceptive services?

Given the intransigence of the administration with insisting that health care include free contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization; I cannot say that I trust the latest offer of exemption to the Church and associated religious entities. It seems to me that religious liberty is still very much threatened. Remember, this is the same administration which sought jurisdiction over ministerial assignments; no doubt supposing that if they lost one ridiculous or outrageous battle, it would make churchmen more passive about what was viewed as a lesser campaign. I think they were genuinely surprised by men like Cardinal Dolan. Suddenly Catholic bishops had teeth and could bite back.

I suspect this newest offer is to convince the bishops of a need to see the dentist. The administration still insists that the agenda of Planned Parenthood will become the official policy of government. No matter how you spin it, that means a confrontation with the Church and the Gospel of Life.

I was amazed that some critics and churchmen quickly rejoiced and sang Hallelujah when the revised policy was announced. We must not return to a posture of passivity and ineffective opposition to Big Brother and modernity. More level-headed religious leaders argue that we need to look at this offer closely. It may be a trick. It seems to me, upon closer examination, that there is no miracle break-through or adequate accommodation. The shell-game continues.

The question proposed is this: can such a policy be mandated against Church institutions with religious and moral reservations? The response of the administration seems to be that some institutions have more of a claim upon religious liberty than others. If the previous offer only preserved such liberty within the walls of the churches, this new policy will only add the porch or parking lot. Churches, individually or corporately, are protected, as are religious orders, but the rest is still up for grabs. Again, this administration has a very narrow notion of what constitutes “church.” Ministries in the area of community service are understood entirely within the matrix of secular humanism. President Obama’s religious vision is wholly a horizontal one (earth-bound) with little or nothing of the vertical or transcendent. In other words, God made us— great; but WE make the rules.”

We still have a fight on our hands because of the indiscriminate outreach of our religious charities, hospitals and schools. This element of the policy has not really changed. Okay, even if self-insured, we would not be required to pay “directly” for the contraceptive coverage; however, we still have to find other insurers to dirty their hands for us. The cooperation with evil becomes more remote but they will still be our agents.

Throughout it has saddened me that we have stressed the religious liberty of the Church as an institution but not the same rights of individual believers and citizens. There is no exemption for them and their businesses. It is bad enough that pro-life groups, EWTN, the Knights of Columbus and others might be forced to comply; however, what about the good Catholic entrepreneur who bakes donuts or fixes cars or cuts the grass. There are no exemptions at all for them. I know, some will say that they could fight and pay out hard-earned money to litigate for themselves. But this is America, our rights are supposed to be guaranteed, not entitlements for which we have to fight and beg.

I bet if it had not been for the courts, we would not have seen even these concessions. No doubt the administration wants to promote a particular public perception: a liberal government wanting to dialogue about national healthcare and a backward-thinking Church wanting to deprive couples of pills and condoms. President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius know full well that many if not most American Catholics are out of sync with Church leadership and moral teachings. As in Maryland with the proposition for same-sex marriages, they hope to exploit this advantage and show that they are the true magisterium, not the ecclesial shepherds largely abandoned by their flocks. As much as the USCCB has sought to frame this debate under the banner of religious liberty and the First Amendment, the administration has been highly effective in convincing many people that it is about reproductive choices and health. God help us!

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I would not argue against the desire for the Society of St. Pius X to preserve its identity, as long as such does not include a persistent and deliberate opposition to the rest of the Church’s self-understanding.

I would also not argue against the discernment of a silent apostasy to which we must respond. However, we must not be deaf to the loud or blatant rebellion and dissent from various members, on the right and left, that afflicts the institution founded by Christ. The greatest threat to papal authority today is not a strained collegialism but an arrogant disobedience. Given their continued participation in this assault, I am not optimistic that the conditions demanded upon by the Society will pass muster with the Holy See.

Despite the negotiations, reconciliation will not come by spurning the directives of the Holy Father while not budging upon their own obstinacy toward an authentic Ecumenical Council of the Church, Vatican II. Any such forced reconciliation would damage real ecclesial unity. While they speak of “canonical normalization,” they cannot even concur with the living Church over which Code of Canon Law actually applies and is in force. Despite their profession in the “monarchial constitution” of the Church under the Pope, they feel they still need a “deliberative vote” before deciding if they will listen to him or not. Is it not peculiar that they attack collegialism in the universal Church but demand upon it for themselves, even arguing that it trumps papal demands? That is certainly not my idea of ecclesial obedience.

I am also not blind to the possible shades of Father Feeney in reference to the Church “outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find means leading to salvation.” They are usually very careful not to associate themselves with these extremists, despite a shared affection for traditionalism. While the Church is certainly the great mystery or sacrament of salvation where we encounter Christ, this would seem to invalidate even the more restrained strands of ecumenism. The Church has affirmed that elements of Catholicism with which the Protestants absconded like baptism and faith in Jesus Christ still have some pervading value. While the issue is more complicated with Jews, we acknowledge that Christ is the fulfillment of the one covenant that God first established with them (Cardinal Dulles and Cardinal Ratzinger, i.e. the Pope). The Church is necessary for salvation because there is no way to the Father apart from Jesus Christ. The Church is his Mystical Body. Thus, both are one and integral to salvation. The irony is that if the Society refuses reunion then they will be condemned by their own definition as outside that visible body “by which the supreme power of government . . . belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth.” The only possible solution they might find for this conundrum would be the sedevacantism that some of them apparently have already embraced. Declaring the Chair of Peter vacant, they can define themselves as the true Church and appoint one of their own bishops as the Pope, or in actuality as an anti-pope. Given online sermons and writings from various of their priests, my suspicions are that a number of them will join the Society of St. Pius V in this regard. I hope I am proven wrong.

Further, it is one thing to say that we oppose the abuses from the nebulous spirit of Vatican II; however, they continue to castigate the council itself. As I recall, the Holy See implied that such would be a deal-breaker. It is certainly okay and proper “to uphold the declarations and the teachings of the constant Magisterium of the Church.” Vatican II must be understood or interpreted in light of the traditions and constant faith of the Church. However, instead of seeing continuity, they stress a break “in regard to all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors, and also in regard to the reforms issued from it.” While it lacks certain specificity, this statement can readily be interpreted as a general repudiation of the Church today in all her elements from the catechism to the sacraments. Is this what they meant to say?

Only one of the four traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X has shown any real interest in the overtures of Pope Benedict XVI. Bishops Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta and Richard Williamson threatened internal schism within the Society, warning that any agreement with the Vatican would result in surrendering the fight against worldwide apostasy. This is strong language, literally saying that contemporary Catholicism is a false religion. Indeed, when we look at a number of their priests and apologists, they slam the whole business as capitulation to “the Modernist Pope” and “the Modernist Rome.” Some of their sermons online and various writings go so far as to call counterfeit both the “Novus Ordo” priesthood and the “new” Mass. One writer claimed that since Cardinal Ratzinger was made a bishop under the new ritual that he did not share in the episcopacy and thus could not be a genuine pope. People like that will not want to “pollute” themselves with any association with the rest of us. There is a lot of wishful thinking, but after almost a half-century separation, many of them have gotten used to their independence. Slamming the rest of the Church and slurring the Holy Father, at least in sermons and in routine discourse has become second-nature. They do not seem the least bit afraid that they might be committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Even Bishop Bernard Fellay has lamented this problem. It has become a habit hard or next to impossible to break. They will not reconnect with what they see as the enemy.

Pope Benedict XVI was very kind to lift their excommunication. However, I would not be surprised if Lefebvrites should invoke its reimposition. After all, they never actually acknowledged it anyway. All it would take is the consecration of another unapproved bishop. Such would force the Church’s hand. The Society itself seems aware that their current response will not suffice for Rome. Thus, they will not be coming home any time soon. While pledging fidelity, they are not going to budge until (in their estimation) the day comes “when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities.” In other words, they are saying that they are RIGHT and Rome is WRONG and that nothing will change until the post-Vatican II leadership gives in.

(Lumen Gentium) “Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God.”–Pope Paul VI

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s on November 21, 1964.

I will now wait for hell to freeze over.

I do not think the devil will be wearing a coat any time soon.

Responding to the Pope, here is the difficult condition laid down by the Lefebvrites for reunion: “The freedom to preserve, share and teach the sound doctrine of the constant Magisterium of the Church and the unchanging truth of the divine tradition and the freedom to accuse and even to correct the promoters of the errors or the innovations of modernism, liberalism, and Vatican II and its aftermath.

Indeed, it looks like the devil is stoking the fire.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller explains (July 20): “The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, but we cannot negotiate on revealed faith, that is impossible. An Ecumenical Council, according to the Catholic faith, is always the supreme teaching authority of the Church.”

Can the Society of St. Pius X Really Be Reconciled?

Archbishop DiNoia, Ecclesia Dei and the Society of St. Pius X

SSPX recognizes papal authority, hints discussions will continue

Eternal Rome vs. the Magisterium: A Contemporary Myth

SSPX Calls Vatican Recociliation Offer ‘Clearly Unacceptable’

Society of St. Pius X vs. Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

Lefebvrians say they can only accept doctrinal preamble on three “conditions”

Vatican’s Doctrine Chief: Pius X Society Must Accept Vatican II Teachings

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I am slowly deciphering some of the written materials left by the late Msgr. William J. Awalt. For review and comments, they are being posted at my BLOGGER PRIEST site.

http://bloggerpriest.com/category/awalt-papers/

Msgr. Awalt was the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in NW Washington , DC for just over 30 years, retiring in the year 2000. I was honored to preach at the Mass celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2007. His pastorate was marked by a deep devotion to the Eucharist and a never-ending preoccupation with preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.

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Given the importance of this matter, and how it is a special teaching moment, here is an article from the archdiocesan newspaper . . .

Incident at St. John Neumann spurs reflection on significance of Holy Communion

Special to the Standard

Recent news accounts have reported an incident at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, where a woman was initially denied Communion at her mother’s funeral Mass (she did, however, receive Communion from a Eucharistic minister) and the celebrant did not attend the burial. (Another priest did preside at the graveside service.) In response, the Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement (below) and Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout, vicar general, personally contacted members of the family.

This is the statement issued by the archdiocese on February 27:

“In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day. When questions arise about whether or not individuals should present themselves for Communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive Communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.

“The archdiocese is looking into the incident at a funeral Mass that was celebrated by Father Marcel Guarnizo and will handle this as a personnel issue.”

This situation provides an opportunity to refresh our understanding of the Eucharist, its importance and the guidelines on how it is to be administered and received.

For Catholics, the Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because we believe that through this mystery, we literally receive the Body and Blood of Christ. It is not just a symbol. Jesus is truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is an intimate encounter with Christ, in which we sacramentally receive Christ into our bodies, and become more completely assimilated into his.

Therefore, because the Eucharist is Christ himself, who is the center of all Christian life, the Church teaches that Catholics must be properly disposed to receive the Eucharist worthily. Catholics should examine their conscience and make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation if they have committed grave sin before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

The following guidelines, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, clarify how Catholics should prepare prior to receiving the Eucharist:

“As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental Confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for Confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the sacrament of penance is encouraged for all.”

The priest has an obligation to make sure that the sacraments are respected. Since it is difficult to know what is in a person’s heart, it is also important that when doubt arises regarding whether a person is properly disposed to receive the Eucharist, it is handled in a pastoral and compassionate manner, privately between the priest and the communicant.

The reception of the Eucharist is a blessing and a grace. We should receive Jesus with the intention of becoming more like him. No one is entitled to the Eucharist. It is a free gift that should be received with humility and reverence. It is also a sign of unity with the Church’s teaching on faith and morals.

CLICK for Guidelines for the Communion Line

CLICK HERE to see MORE COMMENTS AT BLOGGER PRIEST

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The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity has put out an official press release on the FATHER CORAPI SCANDAL. Fr. Gerard Sheehan, the superior writes:

“While SOLT does not typically comment publicly on personnel matters, it recognizes that Fr. John Corapi, through his ministry, has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics, many of whom continue to express their support of him. SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.”

While I can appreciate the need for a statement, I must admit that I am surprised at the bluntness and the depth of revelation. He remarks about the investigative process and what they discerned from emails, witnesses and other sources that has been going on during the time of the priest’s public ministry:

  • Fr. Corapi already handed in his resignation in early June.
  • He paid $100,000 to silence the woman making charges.
  • Other witnesses were similarly silenced and Fr. Corapi refused to release them for testimony to the investigative team.
  • He had violated his promise of poverty by holding legal title to over one million dollars in real estate, luxuary cars, boats, etc.
  • He cohabitated in two states with a known prostitute, recently began sexting one or two women and resorted to repeated drug and alcohol use.

I would not normally even post about such matters, but I can well appreciate the frustation of his superior. Fr. Corapi is a powerful communicator and people love him. If he is guilty of such things and is falsely placing the blame on the leadership of the Catholic Church, then public correction needs to be made. Having said this, I think that the leadership in SOLT must be faulted for allowing this situation to grow so out of hand. They should have reigned him in years ago. Their passivity has now made for a far worse and more scandalous situation. The press release continues:

“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.”

A letter of resignation would not release him from his priestly promises and those made to SOLT. A good priest does as he is told. This is a bad situation all around. I wonder how Fr. Corapi will respond? I suppose die-hard fans will contend that the evidence is contrived and that the priest is innocent. And indeed, I would still argue that if he is innocent then he should make his case and work with the process. It is unfortunate that Fr. Corapi has forced this whole matter and scandal into the public forum. But souls are at stake and this delicate situation is about more than one man. If he is guilty, then he should demonstrate sorrow and contrition, placing his ministry and future into the hands of his lawful superiors. It would be a wonderful teaching moment and maybe the highpoint of his ministry. Christ is speaking to him through his superiors. That is how priestly obedience works. But will he listen? Will he fight for his priesthood? This battle cannot be won with militant rhetoric or tactics of subterfuge. He can only find victory by being a faithful son of the Church and a humble priest. He must be courageous and forthright about any revelations exposed by the truth. He must reckon himself as any confessor to be the first among sinners, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” Things will never be the same but God may not be finished with him yet. I pray that Fr. Corapi will make the right choice and work with God’s grace in this.

An element which really upsets me about this situation is how one segment of the Church is set against another. Father Corapi comes under investigation and the priest comes out with a statement that the bishop and his superior have a right to do what they do; but next he talks about the real enemies of the Church and we all know he is targeting those who put him on administrative leave. Then he claims obedience but his personal corporation makes a statement that they are under no one’s thumb and the ministry media business will continue as if nothing has happened. By the beginning of June he submits his resignation and tells his fans weeks later that the Church has forced him out. Bishop Michael Mulvey and his lawful superior, Fr. Gerard Sheehan, SOLT, seek to clarify matters but then there is the public intervention on his behalf of the founders of SOLT, Father Flanagan and the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Bishop Rene Gracida. Critics and fans of the priest can now take their pick and decry the other side as wrong-headed or evil. The impression is given that the Church is fighting with herself. Despite the lament of Fr. Corapi that this is a plot of the liberals who are out to get him, the battleground that emerges is between very conservative or orthodox churchmen and laity. Liberal revisionists are no doubt having a delight in watching the so-called “religious right” of the Church rip itself apart over the media priest. This has all the makings of a new voyeuristic television program called THE BATTLING BISHOPS. Since the clarification released from SOLT, I notice now that Bishop Gracida seems to have shifted somewhat from supporting Fr. Corapi to attacking SOLT for allowing the situation to develop in the first place. However, it seems to me that the stage was set by those who initially allowed Fr. Corapi to set up his independent operations. In other words, there is blame enough to go around. It is troubling that Bishop Gracida took a public stand against a man’s lawful superiors even though he admits that he has not talked with the priest for years! Now Fr. Corapi is telling his fans on Twitter to look forward to an important announcement on Thursday. Enough already! I discern a manipulation of good men behind all these tensions that is due to evil human machination and/or to the intrusion of something devilish.

I would beg people to separate the truths Father taught from the possible failings of the messenger. All are tempted, but the devil delights in targeting priests; while he could not seduce the high priest Christ, he often settles for corrupting those men who participate in his priesthood. Pray for priests, pray for Father Corapi and pray for “the little ones” who might despair of their faith.

CLICK HERE to read the SOLT press release.

CLICK HERE to read my post on this matter last month.

POST COMMENTS at BLOGGER PRIEST

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HOW IT STARTED

Father Corapi made his first announecment in March 2011:

On Ash Wednesday I learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops accusing me of everything from drug addiction to multiple sexual exploits with her and several other adult women. I have been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of this… All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned.

EWTN removed his programs from the cable network:

In EWTN’s thirty years of existence, the Network has never knowingly aired programming featuring any priest whose priestly faculties have been suspended. The Network has always responded consistently and immediately in such situations by removing such programs from the air. We are obliged to do so in obedience to the discipline of the Church. Father John has long been a friend of EWTN and many of us have worked closely with him throughout the years. He is a tremendously gifted preacher who has led many souls to Christ. We are doing exactly as he has asked and supporting him and everyone involved in the situation in the best way possible, through our prayers.

Many of us were unfamiliar with the nature of his SOLT religious community:

The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity is a community of disciples of Jesus and Mary composed of all vocations: priests, deacons, brothers, sisters and single and married laity. The Society was founded in 1958 and has been approved by Rome as a Society of Apostolic Life. ‎Ecclesial Teams are the basis of our community life as well as the means by which our missions are staffed. A complete Ecclesial Team is composed of at least one priest, religious and lay person or married couple. At the present, the International Headquarters of Our Lady’s Society is located in the United States, in the city of Robstown, Texas under the Diocesan jurisdiction of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. In looking forward to when The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity achieves Pontifical Status within the Church, the International Offices will be transferred at that time to Rome, Italy.

There was a clarification from the lucrative company, Santa Cruz Media, over which Fr. Corapi was identified as the CEO:

Santa Cruz Media, Inc. is the owner of all of Fr. John Corapi’s intellectual property and the DVDs, CDs, and books that flow from it. We are a secular corporation and not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. As such, we are not under the jurisdiction of any bishop or other official in the Catholic Church, although we have the utmost respect for Church authority.

Here is my FACEBOOK comment from March 2011:

FATHER JOE: Priests are men under authority. Fr. Corapi, himself, says that they cannot play games with their promise of obedience and others should respect this. If Father Corapi’s faculties have been removed and his ministry suspended, then EWTN was morally required to take the action they did. Hopefully the matter will be resolved and he will be restored to his place on television and radio. Having said this, the sale of media (audio, video, web and print) would also fall under “ministry.” Given the situation, Fr. Corapi could certainly require Santa Cruz Media, Inc. (an extension of his ministry) to suspend sales and distribution of his materials. I suspect that the good priest is innocent, but there is much to which we are not privy. Prayer is our proper posture at this time, not ridicule of episcopal jurisdiction in the Catholic Church.

WHERE IS STANDS NOW

ON JUNE 17, 2011 AN ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE BY FATHER CORAPI THAT HE WOULD CONTINUE MINISTRY BUT NOT AS A PRIEST IN GOOD STANDING. IT IS A VERY SAD DAY.

FATHER JOE:

(June 2011) I have not blogged about this matter until now and I am not comfortable about posting on it. This issue has gone beyond Father Corapi and could harm the very souls for whom he has confessed concern. Already on the social network sites, his fans are taking sides with him and attacking the Church. This has quickly become a very dangerous situation, another reason why cult worship of religious media personalities should be discouraged. Our faith is in Jesus and the Church, not in preachers with impressive rhetoric and militant attitudes.

This business has gone sour and Father Corapi, as much as I hate to say it, is duplicitous in saying (on one hand) that the bishops have a right to do what they are doing and then (on the other) to malign them for violating his rights and daring to impose discipline upon him. He is a priest and cannot pretend to be anything else, as with this pathetic “black sheep dog” foolishness. His failure to shut down his multimillion dollar business was an early sign that he would not obey the demand of the bishops to suspend public ministry. Now he is taking it to the next level. Faithful Catholics have no choice; in tears and anguish, we must leave Father Corapi. Pray for him but do not participate in his pretense of obedience while he is actually disobedient. True humility would have him submit and accept the Cross. His obstinancy insists that no one will tell him what to do– that was the trouble with his independence all along. More grievous than any genuine or false indiscretion with a woman, the skirting or outright violation of obedience is the greatest possible failing for any priest. Everything from his assignments to the moral life is covered in his fidelity to the Church and Christ. He is to discern God’s will in his obedience to the bishop and his superiors. Evidently, he has become a dissenter on the nature of priesthood and its obligations, as well as upon Catholic ecclesiology. A suspended priest can neither preach nor teach religion; his intention to do so anyway would be a movement toward the Protestant camp, no matter what the message.

REMARKS ON HIS STATEMENT

FATHER CORAPI: All things change, only God stays the same, so I have to tell you about a major change in my life. I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer. There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone. I have been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest.

FATHER JOE: The problem is that priesthood is not merely a job we can change or a hat we can trade for another. Even if the priest is laicized, he is configured to Christ as a priest, forever. If he cannot engage in public ministry, then he cannot do so in any fashion, even if he drops his priestly title or goes under a pseudonym as in a superhero’s secret identity. [It is rarely permitted, but sometimes a laicized priest can give religious instructions with permission of the bishop if it is generally not known that he was a priest and no scandal would result. Fr. Corapi is too well known for this exception ever to apply.] The label “Black Sheep Dog” is a literary fiction without meaning. It says nothing that would grant him an escape from Church censure. He is a suspended priest who has no faculties for preaching or publicly teaching the faith. That means he cannot do it— even on the Internet or with books or with audio/visual media. If the Church authorities want him gone, and it is uncertain who he really means, then he should pursue his canonical rights in private. He has opted not to do this. Suspensions can take a year or more to resolve. He did not last three months! That is hardly the image of a tough former Special Forces military man. (But wait, we found that this part of his biography was a fabrication. We will let that fact check go given his more serious troubles.) Of course, he may acknowledge one important grain of truth; he may indeed be “unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest.” It should be said that all priests are unworthy. The best of priests fall short. If he were sincere then he should fight for his priesthood, no matter how much time it might take to be restored to ministry or good standing. However, such must be done within the system and among the fraternity of his brother priests. He should hold his tongue about how he feels about the process and treat the bishop, his superiors and the Church with trusting respect. A priest who caricaturizes the Church as the enemy is burning his bridges. These latest remarks have ignited a fiery inferno. Fame and fortune should mean nothing to a good and humble priest. He might argue that the Church has forced his hand, but every faithful priest knows this not true. The laity may not clearly understand this situation. Our lives and obligations are very different. He may want to step away from his priesthood, but a priest he is, and that means that any public ministry without ecclesial approbation will be PROTESTANT ministry, not Catholic.

FATHER CORAPI: I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it. He in fact threatened to release a reprehensible and libelous letter to all of the bishops if they did not suspend me.

FATHER JOE: Notice how quickly Fr. Corapi uses the word libelous. Would he resort to the civil courts to punish any in the hierarchy who would dare challenge him, his importance and his resources? He says that he loves the Church and so I am hoping that he will not. Nevertheless, are the assets of his “for profit” company fully his or do they belong to the Church? I suspect they are in his name. We might see a fight about this yet. In his own mind, he is the Church’s great defender. He is Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern all rolled up into one. His fans echo his own conviction— “Oh how will the Church survive without him?” In truth, the Church will fare perfectly well without him. But, if he decides to pursue this BLACK SHEEP DOG nonsense, it is possible that he could inflict great harm upon the Church and cost good people their salvation. As for the bishop’s actions, it confirms what I suspected, that SOLT was impotent in reigning in this isolated Lone Ranger priest who had made religion into his own personal big business. Let me be fair, he may not have started out expecting this happen. But the media can make celebrities of anyone, even religious leaders. When fans tell you are wonderful, their praise can be seductive and the person can become addicted to adulation. This is deadly for the minister of God. Everything we have is gift. Every priest should be the poor man– the sinner who seeks to bring God’s mercy to other sinners. Fr. Corapi did some incredible work. My fear is that everything might now be undone.

FATHER CORAPI: My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process. The Church will conclude that I am not cooperating with the process because I refuse to give up all of my civil and human rights in order to hold harmless anyone who chooses to say defamatory and actionable things against me with no downside to them. The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be.

FATHER JOE: And who are these canon and civil lawyers? Was there an appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome? No, I doubt it. My suspicion is that Fr. Corapi refused to cooperate with the process. Maybe he never understood what the Catholic priesthood was really about? His promise of obedience was not selective and he had indeed surrendered certain rights. He promised celibacy and gave up an important natural right to marry. His overall promise of obedience meant that he would speak for the Church and not for himself on matters of faith and morals. In a negative way, it also meant that he would not speak if the Church so deemed. His faculties to say Mass, to hear Confessions, to preach and to publicly teach, all fell under lawful authority. He was to function as an extension of the Church and his bishop. Now he is claiming that such a promise of obedience conflicts with his “civil and human rights.” He should reflect more intensely upon the biblical scene where Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. The first must be last. He was called to be a servant, not the Master. Demanding large audiences and tens of thousands of dollars for talks is not the way of humble priests. The Pope could give him a lesson. We call the Holy Father the “Servant of the Servants of God.” This word “servant” can be translated as SLAVE. In any case, I guess Fr. Corapi wants his own version of freedom, but he will pay a terrible price for his alienation from the true Church.

FATHER CORAPI: I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep—this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world. I am, indeed, not ready to be extinguished. Under the name “The Black Sheep Dog,” I shall be with you through radio broadcasts and writing.

FATHER JOE: The sheep dog has no occupation separated from the chief shepherd or bishop. A dog that runs after the sheep on its own is not a true sheep dog, but rather we use another name for that canine… we call him a wolf. I would suggest that Fr. Corapi change the name of his blog and new label to BLACK WOLF. Indeed, in the future, if he carries out his intent to keep selling his wares and writing and making radio broadcasts, that is what I shall call him.

FATHER CORAPI: I hope you stay with us and follow us into our new domain and name of “The Black Sheep Dog.” Through writing and broadcasting we hope to continue to dispense truth and hope to a world so much in need of it.

FATHER JOE: Those who collaborate, defend and buy his products will be offering material support to a suspended priest. In other words, he will be making his sin, their own.

Dear Fr. Corapi, reconsider what you are planning to do. Speaking as a brother priest, (if I were in your shoes), before bringing spiritual harm to others and scandal to the Church, I would have preferred to “quietly lie down and die.” But in actuality, the Church is not asking you to do this. We want you to live and to offer oblations for God’s people. You are a priest and your prayers to heaven have power even if they are said from a lonely monastic cell. You do not have to shout from the housetops to be a good priest. I know my words are critical and I might sound harsh, but I am thinking both of you and of your followers. We all make mistakes. We are all sinners. Sometimes we speak out of turn. We become frustrated and afraid. Old demons try to reclaim us under new guises. Be strong! Be a man! Be a priest! Be a faithful son of the Church, no matter what the personal cost.

The complete statement by Father Corapi is available on THE BLACK SHEEP DOG site.

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Recently I entered into a heated discussion with Dennis on an assortment of topics. He is very negative to the Catholic faith. PLEASE NOTE that it is an apologetical dialogue that might make some readers uncomfortable.

To easily follow the discussion, it has been posted to the BLOGGER PRIEST Blog.

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