More Thoughts on the Black SheepDog, John Corapi

Fr. John Corapi

After reading comments on the issue, I thought a bit more about Corapi’s first few paragraphs in his recent statement:

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. The present complaint that you have heard about is, as far as I know, from the one person that I can honestly say I did more to help and support than any human being in my entire life. I forgive her and hope only good things for her. I am not going to get into a back and forth or argument with the Church or anyone else about this matter.

Suffice it to say that I love the Catholic Church and accept what has transpired. Unfortunately, the process used is inherently and fatally flawed, but the bishops have the power, apparently, to operate anyway they see fit. I cannot give a lengthy explanation of what has transpired, but I can tell you that the most likely outcome is that they leave me suspended indefinitely and just let me fade away. They can’t prove I’m guilty of the things alleged because I’m not, and they can’t prove I’m innocent because that is simply illogical and impossible. All civilized societies know that. Certain leaders in the Catholic Church apparently do not.

I accept moving on, but I am not ready to be altogether extinguished just yet. In the final analysis I have only one of only two viable choices:

  1. I can quietly lie down and die, or
  2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on.

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. He has a perfect right to do so, and I defend that right. Bishops aren’t bound by civil laws and procedures in internal Church matters. I agree with that, and would defend to the death the Church’s right to proceed as they see fit. He is the bishop and he has the right to govern as he sees fit. It isn’t an easy task. Many forces besiege him, including pressure from other bishops.

via TheBlackSheepDog.us

Please take note of my emboldened selections. From the text above many have expressed their beliefe that Corapi is “leaving” the priesthood. Despite headlines in many places, this is not explicitly stated above or anywhere else in his post for that matter, unless I completely overlooked it.

If being a Catholic and amatuer theologian and apologist (not to mention my line of work) has taught me anything it is that one must look at the nature of the language: it is precise and clear or is it implicit and subtle. Many have already judged that Corapi’s statement means he is out. This is based on the latter. However, not being a Canon Laywer I believe that because his statement is lacking the former may indeed indicate that there is more to this than we are certainly privey to.

For sure an all out public investigation and/or trial would cause more scandal that is warranted in this case, which of course could be the root of the decisions on both sides. One cannot compare Padre Pio to Corapi, that is not fair to either man. Yet one cannot avoid the parallels where they exist. (Keep in mind that Padre Pio was not a public figure and was granted many miracles – this is not the case for Corapi though his ministry is effective nonetheless.)

Corapi’s decision may simply some sort of settlement. For example, his minitry continues outside of the pervue of the Bishop and in turn, he is on an indeffinet suspension and cannot celebrate mass publicly and thus cannot serve in that capacity – publicly. Keep in mind that a priest always remains such in their soul but not always in their roles. This may be similar to what occured in Leeds back in 2008:

Fr Mark Lawler has now been banned by Bishop Roche from celebrating Mass and the other sacraments publicly. In legal terms, his faculties have been withdrawn. And so the grotesque mishandling of the closure of churches in West Yorkshire continues.

The bishop writes: “In spite of my Decree that the closure of the Church of St John the Evangelist, Allerton Bywater was to take effect on 23 August 2008, public Mass was celebrated by Fr Mark Lawler in the Church on a Sunday subsequent to the Decree ordering its closure.” Fr Lawler then ignored a further warning, says the bishop, and so he is now forbidden to say Mass in public, to hear confession or to celebrate other sacraments “publically” (sic). 

“This action I take out of pastoral concern for the people in my care,” adds the bishop. The decree is stamped “Arturi Episcopi Loidensis”. (Bishop of Leeds bans priest of closed church from saying public Masses | Telegraph UK)

Do you see the parallel here? It may be that Corapi is simply doing as he says, keeping on – keeping on. But for this of us sitting in our armchairs we must refrain from judgement and err on the side of giving Corapi the benefit of the doubt. The same goes for the Bishop.

This entire situation is known truly to three persons: Corapi, the Bishop and God.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

— Saint Paul, Romans 12:9-21, Marks of the True Christian (RSV-CE)

(H/T to Arminian Chronicles for the above passage today.)

On a final note. I cannot help but think that the Enemy is scoring a big victory on an individual by individual level here. And I am not talking about Father Corapi. I am specifically calling out all of the armchair saints who want to say you should have…

Certainly there is one thing everyone should have done. Pray more, talk less!

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