Tom O'Toole
"The greatest" of falls? Was Corapi complicit in the Euteneuer scandal?
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By Tom O'Toole
March 27, 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.

    There seems to no longer be the need for a complaint to be deemed "credible" in order for Church authorities to pull the trigger on the Church's procedure, which was in recent years crafted to respond to cases of the sexual abuse of minors. I am not accused of that...[but] I have been placed on "administrative leave"...I'll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty "just in case"...The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known. I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers...civil and criminal attorneys [agree]...All of the allegations in the complaint are false, and I ask you to pray for all concerned. — Fr. John Corapi, SOLT, 3-18-11



    Father Thomas Euteneuer has performed a valuable service in giving us...Exorcism and the Church Militant. Everyone...can profit from a careful and prayerful reading of this book. Priests especially should profit from this material [as] preparation for this dimension of spiritual warfare is singularly lacking in almost all seminaries, novitiates, or other Catholic institutions of learning. One of the reasons for this is that many such institutions have faculty that...don't necessarily believe what the Church believes. This leaves a terrible void...Hopefully this fine book will inspire many priests to equip themselves with the necessary weapons to fight for souls in this arena. — Rev. John A. Corapi, SOLT, STD, excerpt from the Foreword, Exorcism and the Church Militant



    The Greatest of these is Love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13


This poster depicts the better (if not last) days of the Church's once-dynamic duo of rock-star padres, Fathers Corapi and Euteneuer. Although in some ways it seems an eternity ago, the date tells us it was just last July when the "rocking reverends" were flying high, topping the preacher pop charts on their ironically titled (at least in retrospect) "The Greatest Event of 2010" tour. Ironic in that, although so far only Euteneuer has crashed and burned, the above statement from Corapi shows that now he too has been accused of things that only true rock stars are supposed to do. And, while I pray that (unlike Euteneuer) Fr. John's word is true and the accusations against him are false, both his dubious dealings with Euteneuer and his own defiant denial of any wrongdoing show Corapi has a ways to go in discerning the difference between a rock star and a saint.

We'll look at the curious connection between the two popular preacher-priests in a moment, but let's start by examining the interesting choice of words Corapi uses to show his innocence. After adopting a rather mocking tone of his accuser in the above quoted statement, he then accuses Church authorities of "pulling the trigger" too quickly in deeming these incredible charges "credible." Corapi then states that he (not to mention several of his lawyer buddies) doesn't understand why a "flawed" Church law designed to deal with those low-life pedophiles should apply to his case, especially when he is "so well known" and they are not. Finally, although Corapi says he will condescend to go along with his forced "administrative leave," his defiant tone makes his parting warning, that these accusations will cause him "immediate, irreparable, and serious...harm" sound more like the beginnings of a self-righteous lawsuit than a sermon written to save men's souls.

As far as the Corapi-Euteneuer connection goes, JC (even Corapi's initials are ironic!) was TE's spiritual director for several years up until the summer of '09, when an interesting thing happened. It should be noted that Euteneuer, because of JC's heavy preaching schedule, usually got to see Corapi only once a year for several days of spiritual counseling, but Euteneuer stuck with him, perhaps figuring Corapi was one of the few priests who could understand the temptations of the reverend in the limelight. But this particular summer, Euteneuer arrived at Corapi's expansive Montana ranch (funded not only by the fees accumulated by Corapi's wildly successful talks and tapes but by the $2,712,281 JC won in a medical malpractice lawsuit) with a particularly heavy heart. Not only did Euteneuer bear on his soul the burden of the past year's sexual abuse that he had inflicted on one of his exorcism victims, but he had in his hands this woman's diary, which documented his sin to the world should the public ever see it.

Now we don't know what, if anything, Euteneuer told Corapi of his sins, or if the damning (to TE) diary was even mentioned. But we do know that after that visit, Corapi was no longer Euteneuer's spiritual advisor. We also know that when Euteneuer returned from his trip and the victim, who was tricked by Euteneuer into handing the diary over to TE by his claim that it might fall into the hands of a Satanic cult if she took it on vacation with her (I guess you would have to have been brainwashed by Euteneuer to understand that logic, which at the time she was) asked for her diary back, she was shocked to learn TE had burned it, claiming, "Father Corapi told me to do so."

Again, we don't know if Corapi indeed said this, or if it was just one of the many statements Euteneuer made to save his own rear, at a time he should have been more concerned with his soul. Still, it seems strange that at a time when Euteneuer needed spiritual direction the most, TE left (or was told to leave) Corapi's spiritual direction. Afterwards, Corapi still maintained a professional relationship with Euteneuer (writing a foreword for Euteneuer's exorcism book and keeping the popular pro-life priest on as his warm-up act for the great summer tour event) but little else. For, by the time Cincinnati rolled around, Corapi, surrounded by bodyguards, didn't give Euteneuer (or anyone else not in the JC posse) the time of day, figuring the fact that he allowed TE — and no other vendor — to sell the Euteneuer books at what would usually be an exclusive Corapi memorabilia event (where, for the record, both JC and TE sold an insane amount of stuff that day) should be consolation enough.

And so, while presuming Corapi's innocence in the sex and drugs scenario until the Church rules on his case, there is at least one virtue we can say the once-pale gray-haired priest, who now sports a jet-black beard and Hollywood tan, lacks. It is one thing for Corapi to question Church authorities for taking these allegations seriously — indeed, the fact that Corapi has made a living by talking about his past debauchery and drug-addiction should be enough for his superiors to give them a second look — but it is quite another to claim that such charges will cause him "irreparable damage."

Rather than damage an innocent man's reputation, the history of the saints (and other recent holy heroes) shows quite the opposite. When a young St. Macarius the Great was accused of impregnating the village virgin, the townsmen "...seized me, led me to the village and hung pots black with soot and other things around my neck and led me through the village and beat me almost to death" (talk about "pulling the trigger"), only to realize his true holiness when he still spoke kindly of her and she finally recanted. When Padre (now Saint) Pio was falsely accused of wrongdoing, and was no longer allowed to say Mass in public, he merely said, "His will be done," adding, "the will of the [Church] authorities is the will of God." And finally, when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was falsely accused of pedophilia, and the not-always orthodox priest not only obediently accepted his public humiliation, but refused to in any way demean his accuser, his status grew rather than diminished when his innocence was proven.

In other words, Corapi might not be guilty in what he did in the Euteneuer scandal (or his own case) but in what he failed to do. By being so wrapped up in his effort to reach the masses, Corapi failed to see that the individual souls entrusted to him (not to mention his own) were neglecting "to equip themselves with the necessary weapons" to win the age-old fight against Satan. It may be too late for Corapi to resume the role as Euteneuer's spiritual advisor, but if he is wise, Corapi will spend this period outside of the public eye in confession and in front of the Blessed Sacrament so that he will regain the grace needed to be a more effective confessor and advisor for individuals in the future. If the accusation has revealed the Corapi pride, let us pray that his time away from preaching is enough to keep him from the fall, and that he learns what really is "the Greatest" event of all.

© Tom O'Toole

 

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Tom O'Toole

Thomas Augustine O'Toole was born in Chicago and grew up in a devout Catholic family with five brothers and two sisters. He was the sports editor of Notre Dame's Scholastic magazine, where his story "Reflections on the Game" won the award for Best Sports Feature for the Indiana Collegiate Press Association... (more)

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