By now most people have heard of Fr. John Corapi’s announcement that he is leaving the priesthood. His announcement came with a new blog The Blog SheepDog.
I never blogged on the original accusation and his suspension thinking it was best just something I would wait for an outcome on. While as far as I can tell the accusation was more than likely a false one, I know that even people I greatly admire and think much of can fall.
I also have much sympathy for people who have been falsely accused. I know in my own life that being thus accused when you are indeed innocent is much worse than being found out for something you did. There is a massive unfairness that results and proving you are innocent of a false charge is next to impossible to defend yourself of in most cases.
I have also been a critic of the Bishop’s Dallas Charter and had blogged against the zero tolerance policy since all zero tolerance policies result in mindless and often knee-jerk actions. Despite the credibility or circumstances of an accusation the movement is towards instant suspension not in the name of justice, but to appease those critical of the Church regarding the sexual abuse crisis. That a serious policy for investigating abuse and protecting people from actual abusers was seriously needed since many bishops failed in this; it does not mean you institute a policy that tramples over the rights of the accused and once a priest has been suspended his reputation is gone. There is the recent sad story of one such innocent priest accused who committed suicide as a result.
On the other hand what Fr. John Corapi has done in response is unacceptable.
We all have an example of somebody who was innocent and unfairly treated. Who could be more innocent than Our Savior Jesus Christ who was unjustly accused, scourged, and then executed on the Cross? His answer to this was “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” He has given us an example to live by and warned us that we would be treated like him and even falsely accused like he was.
Fr. Corapi says he was thrown out like the morning garbage. St. John of the Cross was also horribly treated by his order. During the reform of the Carmelites and the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites his order took him and locked him up in a room that was more of a closet than a living space. He was locked up in this room for almost a year before he escaped. Yet during this time of imprisonment did he write critiques of the unfair process that occurred – no instead he wrote one of the greatest books on the spiritual life, The Dark Night of the Soul.
St. Padre Pio was also ill treated by his order. He was falsely accused of multiple things and basically was suspended as a priest. He was not allowed to say Mass in public, hear confessions, etc. This unjust period of his life was not just 3 months or a year, but around a decade. Yet St. Padre Pio did not lash out against his treatment, but instead grew in holiness.
I give Fr. John Corapi credit where credit is due. His forgiveness of his accuser and warning people not to write the bishops about his circumstance. Though there is a mixed message in his announcement with his complaints against the bishops and his telling people not to bother the bishops about this. It also seems he is leaving his religious order without permission from the order and a formal process of laicization. If so this is a very serious lapse and total disobedience.
He will continuing his outreach via http://www.theblacksheepdog.us/ and the various social networks in combination with Santa Cruz Media. There is a crassness with his blog post announcement and his “Ordination Anniversary Sale” of some of his talks. Does he have one on obedience? Even odder his new website was registered by godaddy.com. Some people might not know of their commercials but the main page of their site specialize in the objectification of women.
Sadly this is also a result of the phenomenon of the “celebrity priest” and a situation that can feed the ego of some priests. We’ve had the examples of EWTN priests, Fr. Cutie, etc who became celebrity priests and subsequently left the priesthood. A reminder for all of us to hold our priests up in prayer, but very public priests need even more prayer due to temptation. St. Padre Pio was certainly a celebrity priest and was attacked by the devil, but he also had great humility.
I have no respect for what Fr. John Corapi has done. He could have born this gracefully with the help from Our Lord and provided an example to us all. If his suspension was lifted it might have helped the bishops to seek changes to the Dallas Charter to more fully consider the rights of priests accused. Instead we have just another case of disobedience and somebody setting up on their own. His announcement also seemed to me to be tinged a bit with paranoia of some bishops being out to get him and that this was kind of a result of such an conspiracy. No doubt some bishops did not like his teaching style which previously taught the truths of the faith, but his suspension was no doubt based more on worries about public reaction than an attempt to derail his ministry. His new persona of The Black Sheep Dog is rather strange with the motto “Truth, Hope, Unleashed.” I am thankful his bitterness is not causing him to leave the Church which he apparently still loves, but he has veered off the narrow road and laid aside the cross for his own way.
Another point I am addressing is that I have seen many people refer to him as simply John Corapi. This is understandable, but a priest is a priest forever. It makes sense to drop the Fr. honorific from his name if he was laicized, but he has not been or as far as I can tell had that process started.