Friday, June 17, 2011

Sad, but unsurprising

As with a lot of things in both the church and the world over the past several months, I have not written or spoken in any way about the predicament of John Corapi. I don't have anything particularly original or insightful to add. Suffice it to say, I am not a fan of anyone in the church who sets out on his/her own, creating ministries, especially media ministries, that are primarily about self-aggrandisement and making money. Few can bear it. Those who can bear it operate within structures of accountability. Dr. Graham is a great example of operating within structures of accountability. I certainly never rejoice when somebody, anybody, is caught doing something wrong. It grieves me, but I also pray that s/he will experience Christ through their self-inflicted troubles.

For those who are unaware, Corapi, striving, predictably, to get out in front on the story, announced today that he would no longer serve the church as a priest. Rather than accept any responsibility for the events that led to his effective resignation, which will likely result in formal action by the church in the near term, meaning his religious order, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, he spends the entirety of his time complaining about the process and the authority of bishops regarding these matters, even while saying he accepts it all.

For those who do not know, Corapi was accused by a former female employee back in March that he engaged in sexual relations with multiple adult women and habitually abused drugs. These allegations were deemed credible by the responsible church authorities and, in accordance with binding norms, his priestly faculties were suspended pending the results of an ecclesial investigation. Corapi's response to the announcement of his suspension was really quite defiant, impugning the process practically before it began and all the while saying derogatory things about his accuser. Today, Corapi made the following announcement:


It's always disturbing when members of religious orders set off on their own, as did Corapi a long time prior to the allegations, living alone, focusing on the success of his own ministry, which he ran independently. I don't mind saying that I was never a fan of Corapi. I really disliked his style, which also seemed pretty self-absorbed (as does his most recent message). In my own ministry I can think of at least two occasions when I had to spiritually talk people down from what they took away from listening to him on a regular basis. I also know people from Sacramento who were there during his days in that diocese ('nuf said). All of this is why I resisted the temptation to write something before now. I was not sure I could write charitably.

I have read comments to the effect that Corapi is correct about the process. He is not. It is a canonical process, which in this instance would certainly provide him, even if only eventually (like when the investigation is completed), the opportunity to face his accuser and to be advised of the specific canonical charges (if there are any) against him. Maybe if he had decided to see the process through, which might include a canonical trial, even he would understand it better, and perhaps be exonerated. His decision not to wait for the process to move forward indicates that Corapi knows very well that everyone else involved in the case is sworn to confidentiality and so cannot respond publicly to the criticisms he voices in his resignation from the pristhood.

As you might imagine, there has already been a lot written in response to Corapi's pre-emptive announcement. I have to disagree with my dear brother Greg Kandra, who wrote that this announcement "is a sad moment... for the Church, which has lost a dynamic and singular voice" and agree with Mark Shea, who wrote that Corapi's statement set "a world record for most passive-aggressive manipulative self-aggrandizement ever squeezed into 8 and a half minutes." Sadly, at least to me, this seems an accurate summary of Corapi's ministry, too. As always, I appreciate Mark's forthrightness and honesty. (I doubt he remembers it, but I briefly met Mark outside Blessed Sacrament Church in Ballard, WA early on a Sunday morning in October 2008).

I pray for Corapi to receive the grace of true repentance and/or humility by recognizing just how Christ is reaching out to him in and through these events. As the Angelic Doctor averred, love is seeking the greatest good for your beloved. Or, as my dear Don Gius said, to truly love another is to love her/his destiny.

I will be so bold as to suggest that Corapi read the trials and travails of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, who was truly a victim of calumny and false accusations. For me personally, Pio's holiness lies mainly in his absolute trust in Christ in the face of such allegations.

8 comments:

  1. That video really creeps me out. I never have heard his voice, but the combination of his voice and the images is soooo creepy. Eek.

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  2. Frankly, the opening picture of the video looks like a wolf targeting the sheep. Just sayin'

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  3. Also: Does the priest understand the bishops - and the church as a whole - work under the power of the Holy Spirit?

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  4. Canonical processes do not rely on mysticism, but deal in established facts. My guess is that Corapi is trying to pre-empt the results of the investigation underway since March, which I suppose would have resulted in serious disipline, perhaps even forced laicization, or at least not being able to exercise any public ministry as a priest.

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  5. I hope my last comment did not come across as too terse, Allison.

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  6. One of the things I just posted on my own blog:

    "Does it strike anyone else as more than a little odd that Mr. Corapi already has a full-blown marketing campaign in place as the "Black Sheep Dog"? This couldn't have happened over night. So, it would seem to me that, instead of working with ecclesiastical authorities to deal with the accusations against him, he's been working with his company to develop this new marketing line! I'm not a cynical person by nature, but I have to wonder. . . ."

    Need to pray for his many followers who are so devastated right now because they fell into the trap of a "personality cult" about this guy.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

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  7. News of theses sad events has only just reached me this side of the pond. Without wishing to rush to any sort of judgement it would seem to me that now is the time for prayer and quiet meditation rather than a full on media campaign. A priest friend of mine had some accusations made against him; he accepted what happened to him and after several months he was fully vindicated although I know he suffered greatly at the time. Ultimately good will triumph; if we do not believe that then we do not have true faith. I guess sometimes we all wish that God did not move in mysterious ways; one day we will understand him, in the meantime we keep praying.

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  8. Thank you for a well-written post. After reading Corapi's statement, it seems he has put himself out there as the defender of truth in the world today. He seems deeply wounded by his own perceptions of the past.

    In working with hundreds of men and women in the past 30 years in the areas of mental health and chemical dependency, his statement sounds very similar to what I have heard from other who are struggling with addictions or blows to their personalities.

    I fear him, or what he could do now, to cause division in the Church.

    I really hope he refrains from continuing to call himself, "The Black Sheep Dog." It is ominous.

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