Monday, April 16, 2012

Father Corapi: Black Sheep of the Catholic Family

Many of you are familiar with Father Corapi, the former Ferrari driving, cocaine addict turned Roman Catholic priest who is now the Amelia Earhart of the Catholic Church. 

In 1991, Father Corapi was ordained to the priesthood by Pope John Paul II. His career as a public speaker brought him to great fame within the Catholic speaking circuit. But all of this fell apart in 2011 when Corapi was accused of misconduct and huffed away without a fight, indicating to most involved that at least some of the allegations against him were true (sexual misconduct, substance abuse, violating vow of poverty, etc).

I was as shocked as anyone else last year to see Father Corapi, clad in a leather jacket and gaunt face, speaking to his many fans informing them that he was going to leave the priesthood. He insisted that he was innocent of all charges against him and could not possibly get a fair hearing from the Church. Father Corapi's demonization of the Church hierarchy immediately alerted me to the likelihood of his guilt. A person who had been an avid supporter of the Church had suddenly turned into a conspiracy theorist who believed everyone was out to get him.

As the news broke, I watched the Catholic blogosphere pounce on Corapi with a ferocity that astounded me slightly more than the situation itself, and at first I felt very upset and angry along with all of these Catholics who felt bamboozled by this smooth talking con artist of a priest. My initial anger and disillusionment led me to chuck the only CD that I owned of his in the trash. Ironically, it was his CD on humility - a wonderful talk on this virtue as the foundation of holiness. I considered mailing him the CD and telling him to take his own advice. 

But a few days later I fished the CD out of the trash and it has been sitting on my desk since then. Sometimes when I see it I feel a flash of anger at this man who has abandoned the priesthood but most often I feel a little pang in my heart for him. Beneath his rough exterior, Corapi had a real love of the Church and was a natural defender of what is true, even if it was unpopular. Corapi was a man who would say things that no one else would say. Despite the fact that hating Corapi and making him a villain would have been an easier exercise for my mind, I decided to take some time to really absorb what happened and to consider it more objectively.

After many months of keeping this scandal in my heart I thought that I would share with you what I have realized. It is fairly simple. 

We humans like to create dualities in our worldview - the world vs. the Church, secularization vs. spirituality, body vs. soul and on and on. With the Father Corapi case, he was painted as either a terrible villain or an innocent man targeted by the Church. No in betweens. This makes sense because it is an easier way to view our world. Something is either good or bad, and either way we don't have to think much more about it. 

But the thing is, we are complicated creatures. And our world, as a result, is a complicated world. Individual people are nuanced, beautiful human beings capable of great evil and great good. Often, as C.S. Lewis once said, the most evil human beings are those capable of the most good. So why do we as Catholics build up people as idols, only to bash them with anger and ferocity when they end up showing us simply what they always were, humans capable of mistakes? 

It is natural to notice different people at different times for the face of God that they uniquely show to us, but we must be able to look beyond their individual face to the source of what attracts us to them, which is God himself.

Father Corapi has disappeared from the internet. His web site has been removed and different bloggers are hypothesizing where he could be. Some think he may have returned to his religious order. I, for one, keep him close to my heart, praying that he will return to his work as a priest. Would I go hear him speak after all of this scandal? The short answer is yes. I belong to a Church of sinners. We are a Church of deniers. We are all Peter at that charcoal fire denying that we even know Jesus the Nazorean. If we admit this about ourselves, we can all the more easily admit that we are all justly considered the black sheep of the family. But we are also a Church of the resurrection and transformation. So aware of our sin, we can begin to have hope in the possibility of our transformation that the resurrection of Jesus makes possible.

Let us pray for all priests, religious and lay people who are in the public eye of the Church (Father Barron, Father James Martin, ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza, etc). May they cling to Jesus manifest in the body of the Church and remain faithful to her teachings. May we look to them as an example but not be scandalized in any way when they show human weakness. The source of light that dazzles us in others is God and no other, help us to see this Jesus.

37 comments:

Jason Pannone said...

So true. The line between good and evil runs not between persons, but through each human heart, to paraphrase Solzhenitsyn.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. It's somewhat of a comfort to know that others have experienced the same emotions that I experienced in this story. I felt some anger and bewilderment at Father Corapi but I could not believe the ferocity of those who attacked him either. I expected those outside the Church to do so (but they never seemed to.) I just never expected Cahtolic bloggers to attack so terribly. I continue to pray for Father Corapi and all priests every day. I hope that at the very least, he has reached a point of peace with Christ and His Church.

AndreaM said...

Excellent. I feel the same way. I continue to love and pray for my brother in Christ Fr. Corapi.

Joseph Economico Sr. said...

Would I continue to listen to Fr. Corapi speak after all this scandal? My answer is also a simple "Absolutely Yes!" I listened to him speak for over fifteen years and the more I learned about the Catholic faith which included university level study and the Catholic Distance University the more I realized that he never said anything contrary to the Catechism or any of the founding Church fathers. The man spoke, preached and taught the faith full strength and accurately. I do not mean to speak in a vulgar manner but Fr. John Corapi had a "Brass Set of Holy Balls" and that's exactly the type of character we needed on our side in order to have the Light of Truth shine with brilliance through the darkness that wants to over come it.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuEMvt5ElFQ&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTa0FsfdJrk&feature=relmfu

http://www.vaticancatholic.com

Grace & Fred said...

My wife & I have followed our Dear Fr. Corapi since the beginning of his apostolate, being the best preacher of our times to whom I owe my convertion to the Catholic faith… As much as we love him we sadly realize that he left the Priesthood and he is tired, upset and hurt with so much gossip & criticism and the way the church & bishops have handled the situation a bit extreme to say the least… We do not believe he has committed any crime here.. may be a sin or two as anybody else is entitled to committ…And he is also entitled to get tired and pursue a private catholic life… even if he opts to leave the priesthood for good and get a seculaization, he is entitled to…even if he in the future chooses to have a loved one in his life, who is there to judge him…he is a free man.. HE IS ENTITLED TO HIS LIFE.. He gave us the best 20 years of HIS life… WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO JUDGE HIM AND SPECIALLY TO JUDGE HIM SO HARSHLY…IF WE TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THAT ALL THE RELIGIOUS MAN, PRIESTS & PREACHERS CAN BE MARRIED IF THEY WISH TO IN THE PROTESTANT, ANGLICAN AND MANY OFTHE ORTHODOX WORLD… I DO NOT SEE THE SIN OF ALLOWING OUR PRIESTS TO LEAVE THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD AND PURSUE THEIR PRIVATE LIFE IF THEY WISH TO… WE DID NOT HIRE A SLAVE… WE CANNOT IMPOSSE THE PRIESTHOOD IS A FREE WILL AND THEIR FREEDOM TO DISCERN… AND THEY CAN LEAVE ANYTIME THEY WISH TO… AND NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO THROW THE FIRST STONE… AS NOBODY IS IN HIS SHOES… I think we must leave our Dear Fr. Corapi to choose his seculaization and nobody should be throwing uncharitable comments… We owe him that much respect… Love in Christ, Fred & Grace

tagnes said...

Thanks be to God that your conversion is thanks to Fr. Corapi Fred. I agree with you that Fr Corapi, guilty or not, is our brother in Christ. Like us, he struggles against darkness but is also capable of being the conduit of great good (your conversion, for example). If we accept this about ourselves, we can accept this about others instead of going to the opposite extreme - judging being on one side, as you pointed put, while minimizing or denying the things Fr Corapi has done on the other.

Anonymous said...

Watch the above-referenced YouTube videos. Corapi is not a Catholic, for he taught that Jews and Protestants can be saved in their false relgions. This is heresy, clear and simple. A heretic (who knows better) is automatically cut-off from the Catholic Church.

Just like "one false prophecy, a false prophet makes", so too does "one heresy, a heretic makes."

Why on earth whould you be a Catholic if you could become a Protestant, sin all you want, not pray, etc. and then still be saved? You would be absolutely crazy to be a Catholic IF this were true. This was Corapi's message, and unfortunately the message of the countefeit V-2 Church, that now occupies Rome.

St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716): "There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Anyone who resists this truth perishes."

Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604): "The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in Her and asserts that all who are outside of Her will not be saved."

Mike said...

Love Padre and will always keep him in my prayers. I honestly believe that he will return to his heart and take on his priestly vows once again. We, the church, need him.

Dina said...

I attended one of Father Corapi's presentations in July of 2010. As I listened to his speech I began to suspect that he is a mystic and he knows the end is not far.

Father Corapi said that after this tour he would devote his mission to the holy war against The Church in the United States. He made a slight reference to the fact that the war was within the people of The Church, and those who are not Catholic but want to bring The Church down.

As a follower of The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I believe Father Corapi was ambushed by people who needed him silenced in order to begin a war on The Church in the United States. Obviously this war has begun as many Catholics support our current President and his desire to order The Church into submission.

We need Father Corapi now more than ever!! Do you have the courage to stand with him and fight for Our Church?

tagnes said...

Dina,

I appreciate your comment but I do not agree with your point of view. I neither condemn Fr. Corapi nor believe he is being persecuted. I think it very likely that Fr Corapi did many of the things he was accused of. That being said, he still needs our prayers, and he is still a human being worthy of respect. I have great hope that he will return to the priesthood or at least to a life of holiness as a lay person within the Church.

In Jesus,

Theresa

Jon Z said...

tagnes

I heard about Fr. Carapis falling out with the Catholic church in late 2011. I was raised Catholic, fell away as a young adult, and now worship our God and the Trinity as a Bible believing Christian. Thank you for your insightful statements about Fr. Corapi. I have been struggling with the idea of returning to the Catholic church for several years. In my search, I became familiar with Fr. Corapis ability to teach Gods word and Catholic doctrine, watching EWTN. Today I decided to look and see what had actually happened and what was being said about it. I wish Fr. Corapi no ill, and pray he would find his way back to the feet of our Savior Jesus Christ, if he has wandered away. We ALL fall short of His Glory, and the world of opinion can be very cruel and unforgiving. Your comments were thoughtful and full of grace. I can't say anything or judge him, just pray for his relationship with our Lord. Thanks, JZ

tagnes said...

Jon,

What a grace that you found Jesus after falling away from the faith in your youth. I can definitely relate to that. I was a fallen away Catholic for many years. It was a difficult decision for me to return but I am very grateful for Jesus present in the Eucharist. This is the main reason that I returned and I have never looked back.

As you discern a return to the Catholic Church, I will keep you in my prayers my brother in Christ. Whatever your decision, may you draw ever closer to Jesus in your walk with Him.

In Jesus,

Theresa

Angie said...

My Husband just passed away, His Faith was renewed & Strengthened By Father Corapi, He always loved him and continued to until his Death on June 11. If Father Corapi is reading this I hope he knows how grateful I am that he shared his gift so abundantly and for also renewing our Faith In Jesus Christ and his Church. My Husband James always watched Father Corapi on EWTN, I bought him the Catechism of the Catholic Church that Fr.Corapi had done. I pray for Father and I know my Husband who I believe is in Heaven is continuing those prayers. GOD BLESS YOU FATHER Where Ever You are My Prayers are always with you Pray for My Husband James Humphrey.

kev said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Father Corapi inspired me spiritually in many ways. We all sin, we all fall, but our Church offering us the sacrament gift of reconciliation must forgive all, as Jesus did. If Father Corapi fell, we should be the man who lifted Jesus from the ground while bearing the cross.

Who among us is without sin?

Maria R. said...

I Love you Father Corapi and I will always pray for you and the God of peace will always be with you.Good Luck and God Bless You.

robert farley said...

I wonder if the same Christian principles of understanding, compassion and forgiveness would be extended to a Muslim zealot as they appear to be for John Corapi.

tagnes said...

Robert,

I would hope we would extend the teachings of Jesus to everyone. That is what it means to be a Christian. There are no exceptions.

Blessings,

Theresa

Anonymous said...

I was blessed by Fr. Corapi's EWTN presentations. when I learnt of his apparent fall, at first I was shocked. I had this feeling of ah, here is another phony one. but recently I, who also held a high position in the church in my local area, experienced a fall from grace. I now know I am a phony, having lived a double personality for many years. I have been exposed, though only to a few people. but I can imagine how those people are thinking of me. Now that I have read your comments, I can say I have been blessed more by his fall than by his hay days. Just as the pain of those I betrayed is now a guarantee that I will not relapse - funny how unlikely a place a blessing can come from. Though it is not very clear what happened in Fr.Corapi's case, at least I can pray for him as I have been praying for myself. indeed we are a church of sinners. We should pray for each other

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to read some of these comments because of the way they are treating this scandal as if it were something that can be easily surmountable. I have never liked Father Corapi, I don't know why but I always thought him a phoney- it was always a gut-feeling about him. It should also be a lesson to the Church never under any circumstances to admit former hard drug-users to the priesthood, relapses are terrible when they occur. If Father Corapi ever does come back and he is no Spring chicken, he should spend the rest of his life in a monastery doing penance. Christ was speaking of him when he said "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice." As hard as it may be to accept this, unfortunately it is true of Father Corapi. I was told by a priest once who said that lay people especially parents have a very difficult life and that priests had a far easier life and that if they didn't pray, they would go to hell. There is way too much false compassion being shown towards Father Corapi.

Anonymous said...

I am not a catholic, but I did enjoy his teachings, I felt he spoke with conviction. Remember he is a man and , he that is without sin, cast the first stone!

Sharon said...

I had many of John Corapi's dvds and enjoyed them very much; none of them contained anything which was not orthodox Catholicism. I have packed the dvds away because I can't bring myself to watch them. The first inkling I had that something might be wrong was when he was supposed to come to an EWTN family day but didn't appear in person because he said that the airline staff wouldn't let him board the plane. That din't ring true to me; the man travelled with an entourage and it would have been quite easy to establish his identity. I was quite shocked by the hair and beard dyeing. When he didn't defend himself from the statement his religious order made public I thought something must be wrong and then he disappeared. I hope he is well and safe. I wonder if he has left the USA because he was so well known and had such a distinctive voice that it would be virtually impossible for someone somewhere not to have seen him. I will keep John Corapi in my prayers because he is a sinner just like me.

lqncelestial said...

I do agree with your statement, "If we admit this about ourselves, we can all the more easily admit that we are all justly considered the black sheep of the family. But we are also a Church of the resurrection and transformation. So aware of our sin, we can begin to have hope in the possibility of our transformation that the resurrection of Jesus makes possible." This statement offers me consolation everytime i hear about the scandals happening in our Church since time immemorial. I firmly believe that despite of these, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who constantly guides our Church, can never be wrong.

Joe said...

Regardless of what he did or did not do he spoke the truth, the hard truth to many. If anyone calls him a phony they have missed the entire essence of the church. We should focus on the lessons he taught. Corapi's message was very direct and very true. It may have disrupted how we are living, but that was the point. Corapi was very gifted in delivering the message of Cathoilc Law, not open to debate and without reflection on convienance. So if you discount his teachings because of the acquisition, in my eyes you may have chosen to justify not listening to his truthful messages which are still 100% correct. So, watch the DVDs again, spoken to us by a human, hear the message, understand it applies to all of us. If everyone listened and learned we would be on our way to peace on earth.

Anonymous said...

He had great impact in drawing people to God. We can expect where such impact is found that Satan will also wage a great war against that person (not a comment on guilt or innocence). Let us all be on guard lest at we lose our own good testimonies through actual or misconceived indiscretions.

AK Trinidad, W.I. said...

I thought that my family and I comprised devout Catholics... until we were introduced to Father Corapi on EWTN. Father helped us truly appreciate what a gift and awesome responsibility it is to be Catholic and how we must live the Doctrine of our Church. His talks were inspirational and reviving, experiences we had never had before. He has a gift and he is here for a purpose.

Whether or not Father is guilty of said accusations is not (or should not be) the real issue for us Catholics. The real issue is learning to love despite... To love as Jesus loves and forgive as Jesus forgives.

We love you and miss you, Father Corapi. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

Our prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

I kept the CD too - such great wisdom is in your words - love and forgiveness. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I pray for him daily and will continue to do so. Would accept him back whole-heartedly without additional consideration. Jesus forgives me; and I will do the same for Fr. Corapi. May God Bless and Mary Keep Fr. Corapi and you all.

Anonymous said...

Yes Sr Glory Be To GOD... I MISS THE VOICE OF A FATHER [FR. CORAPI] . I HAVE ALWAYS WISH TO ARTICULATE AS HE DOES,THANK YOU WHEREVER YOU ARE.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe a thing they're saying against Father Corapi. Didn't the Scribes and Pharisees do the same thing to Jesus.We're living in a world of much evil and we all have to pray, pray and pray.

Amy R said...

Anonymous of Dec. 22 doesn't believe any of the accusations against Fr. Corapi? Not even his military stories which have been found to be false?

Additionally, his belonging to a religious order was in-name-only, apparently. None of his speaking fees or any of his income went to the Society he belonged to. When I heard that (two years before the scandal broke) from a priest in the S.O.L.T., I must admit, my heart sank. I just couldn't think why he would be keeping it all for himself.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
blackbearhunt@suddenlink.net said...

Jesus said let him without sin cast the first stone. I do not know if the things they say about Father Corapi are true. Truth is often hard to see in this world in which we live. True or not Father needs our prayer. I expect to see him in heaven regardless because of all the souls he led to Christ.

Fr. James Claude said...

The benefit and graces obtained through any priest are still valid and worthwhile, despite any flaws. The Holy Spirit is the protective glaze upon the clay, thus the Living Water poured from it is still pure. A TV pastor (Robert Tilton) once helped a family I know of save their marriage. Regardless of the scandal he later experienced in his ministry, what he did for this couple was valuable and a good thing!

Anonymous said...

Im offering up the pain I am in with my back, my Parkinsons and saying an extra Rosary for Fr. Corapi who brings tears to my eyes when I think of him being lost. I still remember in some fatima article one of the seers could see Priests in Hell by the cross on their hands, You are a priest forever in the order of melchizadech.
Bill H

Marc Dubuc said...

Pope Benedict 16 recently resigned therefore a Priest can if with good conscience, resign.So where is your do not judge & in the end every.human will be judged by I am Who am,not by me or you.May GOD,I am Who am Bless Father Corapi now &eternally.

Anonymous said...

I believe we need to focus on what all of us do indavidually with the word of God. Remember we are all sinners and God himself will judge us.