Brief comments about the Corapi controversy
Many of you may be familiar with Fr. John Corapi, a priest who had a very public speaking ministry. After a dramatic conversion, he traveled the world preaching the Gospel, inspiring many to come back to the Catholic Church with his orthodox teaching.
Recently however, a terrible scandal emerged. A woman accused him of sexual impropriety and he was suspended from his priestly duties. A few months after this suspension, Fr. Corapi took it upon himself to discontinue any public ministry as a priest, dropping “Father” from his name. He became his own entity, known now as The Black Sheep Dog. On June 16, the following statement was released on his blog in written form and as a video.
This statement created much confusion among those who had supported him and many condemned him for leaving the priesthood. Others sympathized with his reasoning. A tidal wave of responses poured in, many frankly quite judgmental and vitriolic. Well-known Catholic bloggers such as Mark Shea and publications such as the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor published pretty harsh commentaries on the situation.
I used to enjoy watching Fr. Corapi on EWTN for he spoke with such authority. When the scandal broke, I shook my head in disbelief, not just over the charges and his actions, but also over the harshness of the response from fellow Catholics.
I chose to wait and see, preferring to discern from the fruits of his actions. I believe now that the fruit born of this scandal is confusion, and confusion is not of God. It leads me to back away from Fr. Corapi. It’s never good to attach oneself to a personality – it’s only safe to attach myself to Christ.
Recently SOLT, the order of which Fr. Corapi was a member, released a statement which, in effect, pronounced Corapi guilty. This was the final straw and I knew I had to back away.
These scandals just don’t seem to let up. I live in the Boston area, ground zero to the eruption of the sexual abuse scandal which began to rear its head in 2001. We’re talking about 10 years of relentless scandals. What really hurts is hearing Fr. Corapi himself talk about being spat upon by strangers in airports when he wore the collar. And all along, he may have been scandalized himself.
I have known many wonderful, dedicated and holy priests. My own husband is a deacon. I still believe that most priests are faithful to their vows, in their love of God and His people. Hero worship is akin to idolatry and that the only safe course is to keep my eyes fixed on Christ alone for He is where my hope lies.
In lieu of that, I wrote a song back in 2001 called “Still the Same” in which I remind the listener that our Lord never changes but always remains the same. You can listen to it on the player below (lyrics follow), along with a song I wrote about forgiveness. I find myself praying for Fr. Corapi and asking God for forgiveness.
My good friend Nick Alexander (who himself says that he is a “faulty vessel” as we all are) said it best: “Be grateful that the Truth of the Gospel came to you, even if it came from a faulty, hypocritical vessel. And don’t let that vessel take up any more of your time, if such becomes that enormous a distraction from that very Truth.” Amen.
Still the Same
Jesus, He will never change
Ageless, everlasting, still the same
Yes He died (yes He died)
But forever now He lives
We may sin and do wrong
But He always will forgive
If we turn to Him
Though our world (though our world)
Is spinning out of our control
And it seems that our pain
Is getting harder to console
He is here for us, He is here for us
He is here for us
Though your trust (though your trust)
May be broken and betrayed
And the ones that you counted on
You find have feet of clay
You can count on Him, you can count on Him
The wounds will heal, His church grow strong
We are His Body, in His love we will go on
And every person we must embrace
The poor, the broken
And the fallen in His grace.
Jesus, He will never change (His love flows forever)
Ageless, everlasting, still the same (Through His wounded Body)
(Through His Body)
You can find (you can find Him)
In the breaking of the bread
He in us, we in Him
And His healing love can spread