National Catholic Reporter

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Corapi: I won't leave Montana to live with order

WASHINGTON -- Father John Corapi said he will not follow the order of his religious superior to leave his home in Montana to live in community with his fellow priests.

In a posting on his website July 7, Father Corapi also said he was told to support himself and his ministry financially by Father James Flanagan, the founder of his congregation, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

Father Corapi, who lives near Kalispell, Mont., also denied committing sexual improprieties with a female former employee whose allegations in letters to church leaders nationwide prompted officials of his religious community to place him on administrative leave in March.

The statement from the widely popular speaker on Catholic catechetical and contemporary issues came in response to a July 5 press release from the society outlining transgressions related to Father Corapi's lifestyle that it said were uncovered during an investigation by a three-member fact-finding panel appointed by the religious order.

Church takes steps into social media


When it comes to social networking, some Catholics are slow to click the “like” button. To read recent headlines, you might think the church is sticking to stone tablets: “Facebook and Christianity a bad mix, parish warns” and “Alabama church bans social networking with minors.”

But for every St. John Cantius Church, a Chicago parish whose leaders warned of the dangers of Facebook in its bulletin in April, there is an Old St. Patrick’s, a Chicago parish that uses Facebook and Twitter to alert more than 2,000 followers to its upcoming summer festival and other events. And though policies against teachers and students “friending” one another are becoming common at both Catholic and public schools, even Pope Benedict XVI has his own YouTube channel to connect with young Catholics.

Order 'saddened' by Father Corapi's decision to leave priesthood


WASHINGTON -- The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity said it was "saddened" that Father John Corapi, one of the most visible members of its order, has decided to leave the order and the priesthood.

Father Corapi, 64, declared June 17 in a YouTube video and a blog posting on one of his websites, that he was leaving because he could not get a "fair hearing" on misconduct allegations that were lodged against him in March and which included what the priest said were sexual abuse charges.

The order, commonly referred to as SOLT, was in the midst of investigating the allegations when Father Corapi made his announcement. "Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation," said the statement, issued June 20 by Father Gerry Sheehan, the order's regional priest-servant and Father Corapi's superior.

Charism of administration among theologians


At this year’s recently concluded Catholic Theological Society of America convention in San Jose, California, the Pentecost liturgy was celebrated June 11 in that city’s grandly renovated cathedral. Theologians from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe who gathered in great arcs of seats around the high altar will remember much from the inspiring Eucharist, but perhaps nothing more than seeing Dee Christie, the executive director of the society who retires on June 30, and Mary Jane Ponyik, her successor, bringing the gifts to the altar.

Feuerherd, NCR editor in chief and publisher, dies


Joseph Feuerherd, NCR editor in chief and publisher, died this morning after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 48. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Feuerherd died at 8:41 a.m. Eastern time at the Montgomery Hospice's Casey House in Rockville., Md. His family was at his side.

Following is an appreciation of Feuerherd written by Arthur Jones, who as Washington correspondent hired Feuerherd as an editorial intern in 1984. Their professional and personal lives were closely entwined since.

The kid climbing over the fence to get into the Belmont Park racetrack in Long Island, N.Y., was betting first on not getting caught, next on finding some adult who'd place his bet for him, finally, that he'd win. And every now and again, Joseph Anthony Feuerherd, age 13, did bring home the proceeds from his exacta. From then on, whenever he had a bit of money in his pocket and couldn't get into the park, there was always the local off-track betting office.

Dangers of hero worship


When author Greg Mortenson visited Aurora University in Illinois this spring, he spoke to a sold-out crowd crammed into the university’s largest auditorium and overflowing into a second theater, where a video streamed the event live. But even those of us who had to watch it the following week on our computer screens could make out the backdrop of banners proclaiming the school’s core values, including the word “Integrity” right behind Mortenson’s head.

Pfleger back at St. Sabina; transition plan agreed upon


He's back!

Chicago's St. Sabina Church (capacity 1,200) was packed to overflowing Sunday, May 22, and the praise and worship portion of the liturgy which leads off the 11:15 Mass was even more buoyant and uninhibited that usual. The predominantly black congregation was overjoyed to have their pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger back in action after serving a three-week suspension imposed by Cardinal Francis George.

The cardinal had been greatly offended by remarks Pfleger made on the Tavis Smiley show on National Public Radio, and many believed he would at last remove Pfleger from the pastorate at St. Sabina he's held for almost 30 years. During that broadcast in April, Pfleger said that if he had to choose between moving to the presidency of a local high school as the cardinal wished or being forced out of the priesthood, "then I would have to look outside the church" (for ministry opportunities). In his letter of suspension, George said he regarded Pflger's words as a threat. "If that is your attitude," he said, "you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish."

Marie Deans saved lives that society scorned


Facing certain death, 34 men in South Carolina and Virginia asked Marie Deans to stay close to them in their final hours and minutes. They were death row inmates.

Years before the electrocutions or druggings in the government’s death chambers, it was Marie Deans who came into the cellblocks to offer whatever professional or personal services she could provide to the condemned.

Cardinal suspends Chicago priest


CHICAGO -- The saga of Fr. Michael Pfleger, the 30-year pastor of St. Sabina Church here, has reached a new crisis point. In a letter dated April 27, Cardinal Francis George suspended the priest from all ministry at his parish, largely because of remarks Pfleger had made on the nationally broadcast Tavis Smiley radio show the previous week.

On that program Pfleger declared that if he were forced to choose between accepting a high school presidency as the cardinal wished or leaving the priesthood, “then I would have to look outside the church. I believe my calling is to be a pastor. … In or out of the church I’m going to continue to do that.”

Gingrich talks of journey to Catholicism


WASHINGTON -- Tilting toward a run at the presidency, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich traced his spiritual journey from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic at a Catholic prayer breakfast here on Wednesday.

“People ask me when I decided to become Catholic,” said Gingrich, who formally converted in 2009. “It would be more accurate to say that I gradually became Catholic and then realized that I should accept the faith that surrounded me.”

The twice-divorced former Georgia congressman has labored to assure conservative Christians of his fidelity to traditional values. Just 11 percent of white evangelicals, and 16 percent of white Catholics, favor Gingrich as the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, according to a March Pew Research Center poll.

Gingrich also explained his religious conversion on Tuesday to National Catholic Register, a publication owned by EWTN, a multimedia Catholic network.

“The depth of faith and history contained in the life of the Catholic Church were increasingly apparent to me,” Gingrich said Wednesday. “Slowly, over a decade, the centrality of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass became more and more obvious to me.”



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