Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Fr. Corapi: No Good Way to Look at it

For reasons known only to himself and God, Fr. John Corapi seeks to leave the priesthood to which he was ordained.  I say "only to himself and God" because I do not think his publicly released message really sheds much light on what he is doing.  I'll hope to make that clear as I continue.

First, we must remember one thing:  we cannot know if Fr. Corapi is innocent or guilty.  We do not have all the facts.  Second, he is obviously very bitter and frustrated.  One gets a sense of weariness in his voice and words.

This does not make him innocent though.  Speaking bluntly, he places his innocence on very questionable footing with the release of his statement.  I'll be honest, the statement read to me like a politician.  He gives the impression that this decision was forced on him by two factors.  The first was an institutional Church that offers no protection for accused priests.  There is some truth to that.  The second is that it is because of the false accusations of a "deeply troubled" woman, or so he thinks.

That is the rub with this entire issue.  As Fr. Corapi himself concedes:

The identity of the accuser is not revealed. You can guess, but you don’t actually know. Nor are the exact allegations made known to you. Hence, you have an interesting situation of having to respond to an unknown accuser making unknown accusations (unknown to the accused and his counsel).

He doesn't know who the accuser is.  Yet he goes to great length to speculate to his listeners that it is a woman he has done more to "help and support her" than anyone he ever has.  In turn, because she is a "demonstrably troubled person" she made "totally unsubstantiated, undocumented" allegations.  Some will say he isn't looking to slime the accuser because he doesn't mention them by name.  Whatever his motives, he has outlined a classic case of manipulating his audience.  He wants his audience to view him as a White Knight, and his accusers as deeply troubled people.  He wants himself to be portrayed as rational, whereas he wants the bishops arrayed against him to lack the characteristics of civilized societies.  (Without of course knowing who those Bishops even are!)  His fundamental civil and human rights are being violated by a nameless, faceless "they", being the Bishops.

If Fr. Corapi is innocent, this was the worst way to go about it.

There are those who are comparing him to St. "Padre" Pio.  St. Pio suffered real injustice from false allegations, and lost several years of his public ministry because of it.  The only difference is that St. Pio did not abandon his priesthood.  Fr. Corapi said the only options available were to "quietly lay down and die" or "go on" as he sees fit.  St. Pio gave an answer of defiance.  That defiance was directed at the devil.  He chose to soldier on, humbly subjecting himself to the injustice, fully confident in the end he would be vindicated.  As a result, we call him "Saint" Pio.  Fr. Corapi could indeed be innocent, but he is not taking the path of the saints that our Catholic tradition provides us.

He also gives every indication of continuing his public ministry in spite of the events that have transpired.  I am not optimistic he will be able to do so.  Many Churches will not host him.  His EWTN ministry is obviously permanently shelved.  The first thing that needs to be answered is a harsh question, but a valid one:

Did Fr. Corapi solicit support under questionable pretenses?
How long has Fr. Corapi known of his decision to leave the priesthood?  On his website, he was offering things at reduced prices to celebrate his 20th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood.  People were buying things many times as a way of giving a "thank you" for his priestly ministry.  A ministry he is now leaving.  To avoid any sense of impropriety, Fr. Corapi should offer refunds if charitable contributions were given to his organization before this, or if merchandise was purchased by those looking to support a priest.  I'm of the impression that this wasn't a long-standing idea.  The video and speech were far too hasty to suggest that.  I think this would be a beneficial act for him to take.

If his ministry does continue, he will be in need of some special graces and prayer.  As a laymen, he may indeed be able to contribute in some form or another.  Yet he is operating outside the "usual channels."  There was a time when Catholic Answers and EWTN were outside those "usual channels."  Yet a cult of personality didn't surround these individuals at the time either.  One does surround Fr. Corapi.  He may wish it not to be so, he may relish in it, we cannot know that.  Yet we cannot deny it exists.  His devoted fans will still see him as an authority figure.  What if that authority conflicts with the Bishops?  How can he put into practice the virtue of humble obedience given the circumstances?  Fr. Corapi has exceptional gifts.  I fear in public those gifts are compromised.

That is why in the end, for the good of all, Fr. Corapi should take a very extended leave of absence from any public ministry, be it as a priest (due to his suspension) or as a layman, or whatever is in between.  Spend that time in deep prayer and with a spiritual director who will be fully honest with him.  It is going to be very tough to continue to have a public life under these circumstances.  He claims he does not want to be in an adversarial position with the Church and the Bishops.  Yet if he continues under his new "persona" as "The Black Sheep Dog" communicating in public about matters of the faith or his own perceived injustice, such an adversarial position is inevitable.  These matters would cause more harm than good.

Finally, this is a firm reminder about the dangers of the cult of personality.  Many people are having their faith shaken by this event.  It is a reminder for us all that we cannot place our faith and hopes in men.  Even good men, whether they be laymen, priests, bishops, even Popes.  We can only place our faith in the Lord.  If it be His will, an innocent Fr. Corapi would have been vindicated.  If it be His will, a new voice in the Church will fill the void left by him.  In the end, even in spite of our attempts to obstruct it, the Church continues to nurture souls and Christ continues to save them.  Inspired by that confidence, let us pray for Fr. Corapi, and for all priests.  If this situation shows nothing else, it shows how much grace is required to be a faithful priest in today's world.


  1. It truly is a baffling situation. Why abandon the priesthood if there is at least a chance at an appeal? At the very least, after the trial and such, he should have spoken very publicly on this, gone all out. That way he vindicates himself and the only possible opposition is the Bishops making a solidly damning public case against him. To leave the priesthood is to 'lie down and die'.

    It's not like he's facing civil punishment if he is found guilty by Bishops - he still has the chance to make a public statement calling them liars, corrupt, etc. This is presuming he's innocent. If he's guilty, then I can understand hesitation to tell the whole story.

    That said, the mere fact of being accused in itself has a way of permanently tarnishing one's image. How many stations and outlets blocked him by simple fact he was accused? I'd bet a lot.

    We can be sure Satan wanted Fr Corapi out of commission just as much as corrupt clergy did.

  2. Rumor has it from Corapi's old bishop that Corapi broke free for the 1012 election so he could talk more bluntly on political issues - and from this I take it means he's going to really slam the bishops for failing to do anything positive about Catholic people living and voting as Catholics.

    The following link also shows he's registered the BlackSheepDog trademark over a year ago, so this wasn't an immediate thing. Either he's smelled something coming for a while, or this was originally some side project.

    The Bishop "emetrious" of Corpus Christi further thinks Corapi is first trying to clear his name through civil courts but has not really abandoned the priesthood:

    Corpi said he has various lawyers and canon lawyers on his team, so this all very well could be something calculated and by no means the final word.

    Then again, saying goodbye publicly on his blog is scandalous.

  3. I have a blog with "common sense" for Mormons.
    Scott Pugsley

  4. This complicates matters as well:

    “Father Gerard Sheehan, regional priest-servant of SOLT and Father Corapi’s religious superior in the U.S., confirmed June 19 that the order’s investigation faced complications created by a civil suit filed by Father Corapi against the former employee who had accused him of sexual misconduct.

    “When she left the company, she signed a contract that she would not reveal anything that happened to her while she was at Santa Cruz Media. Father Corapi paid her for this. Father was suing her for a breach of contract,” said Father Sheehan, though he did not specify why Father Corapi had initiated the non-disclosure agreement.

    The civil suit against the former employee created a problem for SOLT investigators.

    “In canon law, there can’t be any pressure on witnesses; they have to be completely free to speak. The investigation was compromised because of the pressure on the witnesses. There were other witnesses that also had signed non-disclosure agreements,” said Father Sheehan.

    “The canon lawyers were in a difficult situation, and Father does have his civil rights and he decided to follow his legal counsel, which he had a right to do,” he said. “We tried to continue the investigation without speaking to the principal witnesses.”

    The investigation was halted after Father Corapi “sent us a letter resigning from active ministry and religious life. I have written him a letter asking him to confirm that decision. If so, we will help him with this process of leaving religious life,” said Father Sheehan.”

    Read more:


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