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The Witness of Fr. Corapi

Fr. Corapi - The Black Sheep DogBy now many Catholics are aware of the scandalous situation regarding Fr. John Corapi, the once great preacher, teacher, and priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). I have refrained from posting comments about this as I don’t want to be seen as kicking a priest when he’s down. Fr. Corapi needs our prayers. He has done much good for the Church and no doubt Satan has tested him severely. Unfortunately, the great strength that was so attractive in his preaching has failed him at this critical moment.

Like many, I was incredibly surprised to hear Fr. Corapi’s statement that he is abandoning the priesthood of Jesus Christ to become “The Black Sheep Dog.” It is a move so bizarre and sad that for the first few hours after his announcement, the opinion among a good number of his fans was that his website had been hacked; this simply could not be him. Much of the analysis of this sad situation has been handled ably by others and you are welcome to see the National Catholic Register’s coverage for details. However, in light of the new statement Fr. Corapi released yesterday, I would like to add something of my own, as someone who once very much admired Fr. Corapi.

Perhaps the thing that most bothered me about Fr. Corapi’s proposed plan of action was that he indicated that he was resigning from public ministry and leaving the priesthood, yet seemed to think that he would just go on doing basically the same things he had been doing. “How on earth does he expect to do that?” I thought. How can someone who spent so much effort teaching people to love and respect the authority of the Church think that he is just going to continue, business as usual, while living a life radically opposed to his own teaching? Does he really think that somehow the priesthood was just superfluous to his teaching the Catholic faith? Does he really hold the priesthood that cheaply?

The answer came in his statement yesterday (see www.theblacksheepdog.us for more). Speaking of the great privilege he enjoyed as a sacred minister of the greatest gifts Our Lord ever gave us, of the supreme call from God he received to make Jesus Christ present thought the Sacraments, Fr. Corapi said simply,

I didn’t do very much of that, quite honestly, in the 20 years that I did minister. About 90% of what I did in the past did not require ordination.

To further answer all my questions, he concluded,

What I’m going to be doing in the future is pretty much the same thing [I've been doing].

No, no, and no. There is absolutely no way he will continue doing “pretty much the same thing” that he’s been doing. This whole situation reminds me of a quote of Pope Paul VI:

Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.

Fr. Corapi was a great teacher of the faith. He proclaimed the truths of the Catholic Church with great conviction. But people listened to him for only two primary reasons. First, because the truth he taught was so attractive. He taught the fullness of the faith to a culture that is often left with only watered down Catholicism. That this truth is attractive is nothing for which Fr. Corapi or any priest should dare take credit. When we give people authentic Catholicism it’s like water in the desert and it’s no great coup for a priest that people drink and desire more.

While it is true that “John Corapi” could go on proclaiming the truths of the faith “pretty much” as before, no one will listen to him. At least very few will listen, and that is because the second and most important reason people listened to Fr. Corapi was because he was a witness. Anyone can read the Catechism. People listened to Fr. Corapi because they found him to be an authentic, credible witness. He could command obedience to Holy Mother Church because he himself had pledged his life to such radical obedience. He had made public promises to God that his life was no longer his but was given totally to God through the Church. This is what made his teaching, and that of any true witness, powerful.

The “Black Sheep Dog” now thinks that he can simply go on doing “pretty much the same thing.” He is like Sampson who has not yet realized that his hair has been cut (no pun intended). The strength of the Catholic Church and her teachings remain, but Fr. Corapi’s strength to teach these truths is gone. He thinks that he can be a teacher without being an authentic witness. The words of Paul VI foretell his future. No one will listen to him any more…and that is a shame. We needed teachers like him.

9 Responses to The Witness of Fr. Corapi

  1. Dave Tabor

    Hello Father Shawn! I know you’ve had a few correspondences with Sara on Facebook, but I think this is the first time I’ve written to you.
    Sara and I pray for you often.
    We like your well-written article regarding the Fr. Corapi scandal. We, like everyone else, are still in disbelief about the whole thing. In like your quote from Pope Paul VI, one of my favorite Popes.

    God bless you Shawn! Take care. We hope to get to attend one of your masses next time we are Kansas.
    -Dave Tabor

  2. Laura O.

    Thank you, Father! I have been so very sad about this situation. It is a painful reminder of just how much more I need to pray for priests. God bless you.

  3. Christine

    Well said, Father.

  4. Linda

    Well said but a very hard road to walk… Being accused and not being able to properly defend yourself is hard, and guess he’s not taking it so well. Jesus was accused and he died for us. Very hard indeed. God Bless all the Priests, Mother Mary protect them. St Michael the Arc Angel defend them in battle.

  5. Mike L

    Hello Father

    I think you have misunderstood the situation and are making it seem more of a catastrophe than it is.

    You say “I was incredibly surprised to hear Fr. Corapi’s statement that he is abandoning the priesthood of Jesus Christ to become “The Black Sheep Dog.””

    First – he is not “abandoning the priesthood”. Once a priest always a priest. He is already suspended and he has chosen not to fight in the manner you want him to fight and he has chosen not to be humble in the manner you think a person should be humble.

    There are many arm chair critics like you who have come out of the wood work the last few days with your own ideas of humility and your own ideas of what the cross is that Fr Corapi ought to carry. All that you say is premised on your confidence that your way for him is his way to salvation.

    A bit presumptuous don’t you think?

    Moroever you hold that he “was a great teacher of the faith.” because 1.) he preached the Truth and 2.) you (speaking for others) “found him to be an authentic, credible witness. He could command obedience to Holy Mother Church because he himself had pledged his life to such radical obedience. ”

    Here again I think you are mistaken. Tell me – in what way has he been disobedient? Is the answer to this question suppose to be obvious?

    What has he done that has been disobedient?

    What I found interesting about Fr Corapi was that he spoke unpopular truths forcefully. He went up against some powerful people. I never though of him as a saint or even a holy man. Perhaps he is and perhaps he is not.

    What I think is interesting about this whole affair is that he really did have a lot of “fans”. Followers – sheep if you will who mindlessly believed him because they found his manner persuasive and his message conveniently in accord with their own. Now these sheep are abandoning him because his actions don’t fit their mythological understanding of the Catholic faith. Perhaps the problem is not with him but with the malnourished faith of those now piling on. Time for them to grow up I think.

    According to you the only thing that has changed now for Fr Corapi is that though he may still be able to preach the faith he is no longer a witness.

    No longer a witness Father? Perhaps it is your own idea of witness that is mistaken.

    If he condemns contraception tomorrow is he not being a witness?

    If he condemns abortion tomorrow is he not being a witness?

    If he condenms some Catholic university in the future for inviting a pro-abortion politician to give the commencement address is he no longer being a witness?

    If he preaches Christ today and Christ tomorrow, in season and out of season is he no longer a witness?

    We shall see what becomes of John Corapi but has been revealed so far is that some of his followers truly were sheep. Perhaps instead of being followers of Corapi these sheep should follow Christ and not be so quick to condemn Corapi.

  6. Peter H

    Well put Mike L,

    Father Shawn,
    Fr Corapi is being obedient by not addressing himself as Father because his faculties have been suspended. He can not refer to himself publicly as Father now.
    Also your logic would imply that only a Priest makes a valid witness?
    What about wonderful speakers like Scott Hahn, Mike Aquilina and Jeff Cavins. They are not priests, does that make them invalid witnesses to the truth?

  7. Darlene F.

    I feel compelled to respond….I too am struggleing with Fr Corapi’s delema…..to say I was mesmerized by Fr. Corapis preaching, especially, regarding “The Catechism of the Catholic Church, is an understatement. I followed along with his lectures, I have a copy of “The Catechism of the catholic church. I found him to be profound, honest, and truthful in his acessment of “The Church’s” teaching, of what it is to be Catholic.This is what bothers me…He preached that there are 3 things you must believe in, they are: 1) The Magesterium of the Catholic Church ( in laymans terms, that means from Jesus Christ, St. Peter (the 1st pope) to all sucessors, cardinal,Bishops etc….it also means OBEDIENCE to your Superior. This is a VOW religous, Priests, Nuns, etc. profess when they become Priests etc. 2) The Bible (The word of God, given to us by the Apostles etc.), 3)Sacred Tradition ( In the old Testament, when Jesus walked and preached on Earth….Having said all this….The 1st one is the one that bothers me….we can rationize all we want to meet each situation, but Priests, are bound to this vow……Father Corapi preached on this very subject himself….Talk the Talk, but, not Walk the Walk….perhaps, this is where PRIDE shows up……Padre Pio was a prime example of obedience to his Superiors….Yes, you may have to carry a very heavy Cross for awhile, maybe for a long time, but, each of us according to our station in life “Must carry some kind of cross which seems sometimes hard to bear…..Our Human pride prevents most of us from doing so….I don’t pretend to know all there is to know of my Faith, I am still thirsting for Truth and I am learning every day more and more. My prayar for Fr. Corapi is to stuff PRIDE, listen to your Superiors, “The TRUTH will prevail, in do time, and it will set him free….I love Fr.Corapi as most of us do, I have hundreds of dollars worth of his preaching and teaching, because it is TRUTH. HE needs to LIVE it , as he told us too!!! God Bless you Fr. Corapi and my prayars daily for you….

  8. Darlene F.

    I did

  9. John 6:54

    Being almost 2 months removed from the situation, its interesting to read the responses. I think your post was dead on. At first I sympathized with the “sheep dog” but now I just feel sorry for him. His order has asked him to return to the community and the “sheep dog” chooses to to live a life removed from his vows. I hope some day he will repent of his pride and return to the fold. God Bless you Fr. Shawn

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