Why Father Corapi Matters: Father’s Day 2011.
Matthew J. Bellisario 2011
Matthew J. Bellisario 2011
(The Father Corapi I Will Always Remember)
I think it is appropriate to write this on Fathers day concerning Father John Corapi. I had the opportunity to meet Father John Corapi, in Charlotte NC about 7 years ago after I had converted to Catholicism, and it was certainly a memorable moment for me. He had a great influence on my early years as a Catholic. There is one cd that I still listen to on my ipod, which I never grow tired of. It was one of his earliest recorded sermons, I think it is titled, ‘Truth, a Matter of Life and Death.” It is an older one and the sound quality isn’t as good as the remade version that he did later, yet I think it was one of his best. I think it is safe to say that I have been a “fan” of Father John Corapi from the moment I first heard him. In recent years I have not kept up with his work as much as I did when I first converted, yet whenever I have had the opportunity to see him on EWTN I rarely passed it up. In light of the recent announcement of Father Corapi leaving his public ministry as a priest, I thought it might be worth reflecting on his influence on Catholicism in America, and how what he does now is important to us. Some might think that I am exaggerating how much he has influenced the Catholic Church in America, yet, I do not think it is an understatement to say that Fr. Corapi is known to most Catholics as voice a of conservative orthodoxy. Like or not, he is what is. In an age where the Catholic Church in America has been highly feminized, modernized and liberalized, Father Corapi has stood in staunch opposition to those “isms.” (Feminism, Modernism, Liberalism, etc)
After living a high rolling life in Hollywood he crashed and burned into the flames of drug addiction, and yet by the grace of God lived to tell about it. More than that however, he became an ordained Catholic priest, and has since been Father Corapi. Born in 1947, ordained in 1991 he had a late vocation to the priesthood. Over the last 20 years or so he has been unrelenting in his orthodox preaching, often making the liberal hierarchy in high places very uncomfortable. Some were not comfortable with his direct and sober tone of preaching, yet to many who had been duped by the heretical, liberal, and effeminate clergy, he was a breath of fresh air. He was a much needed voice in the Catholic clergy that not only needed to be heard, longed to heard.
Father Corapi made it OK to feel good about being an orthodox Catholic. He did not sugar coat the Church’s teachings in an effort to make it palatable. He understood that truth itself was enough to draw those who longed for it. Many considered his direct approach to be uncharitable, yet I never looked at it that way. In fact, I could often see a glow of peace about him in even in his most heated moments, as he railed against those who promoted abortion or other crimes against humanity. Just before converting to Catholicism from Orthodoxy I had come across Fr. Corapi from a friend that I met at a Catholic Church. I couldn’t get enough of his cd sets, and I have purchased quite a few of them. He made me feel like at ease to be an orthodox Catholic, despite the scandals and the heretics that had seemingly infested almost every nook and cranny of the Church.
Over the years Father Corapi has spoken in virtually every part of the country drawing in recent years thousands of Catholics who wanted nothing other than to hear him preach. They wanted to know that they were not alone in believing what the Church taught, and that there were priests that would fight for the true faith. In other words, he gave them what most of the clergy were not giving them, that is the orthodox doctrine of the Church. As bad as it sounds, modernism is what made Father Corapi who he is. The modernist corruption in the Catholic Church allowed an influential figure like Father Corapi to emerge. By the grace of God, he was viewed as a Pheonix rising out of the ashes of drug addiction and other vices to bring light into the impotent American church.
God has ways of using ordinary men to do his extraordinary work, providing they are willing to do His will. It seems that Father Corapi had attempted to do that as best as he could over the years. As time went on, his media company and popularity grew. He could not fill all of the dates that he had been requested to speak, and as time went on he had to scale back his public appearances. He had health problems which slowed him down for some time, and then he was able to do less appearances, yet larger audiences. The sales of his dvd and cd sets must have increased greatly as well, and it seems that over the past 20 years Father Corapi has gained an almost “rock star” iconic image among many Catholics. This however has its positives and negatives, for both Father and those who have held him in high esteem.
As we know, fame has its ups and its downs. “Rock stardom” has destroyed many people, and fame is not something that everyone can handle. I am not making a judgement on Father here, but I think it is important to ask this question. At what point does it become dangerous for the soul of a priest to be in such a spotlight? It is no secret that many modernists in the Church have wanted Father Corapi gone for a long time. I must admit that it seems that Father Corapi has changed a bit over the recent years, and I cannot put my finger on what it is. I have no idea if the accusations made against him are true or not. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is innocent as he claims. But that is not the real issue concerning Father that is going to be of crucial importance for some time to come. Many good priests have sinned, and mankind is not going to change any time soon. So what is the real issue here?
In the wake of the sex scandals that have rocked the Church over the past 15 years or so, we must examine how the Church is to handle accusations made against her priests. What Father presented on his website concerning how these accusations are handled seem to be very accurate. This is supposedly how the Church has handled these types of issues for many years. Yet, it seems that those priests who were known to be guilty of accusations made against them were just moved or covered for, and allowed to continue on in their scandalous behaviors. In my eyes the bishops are solely to blame for this, and so, after scandal after scandal they have now been almost forced to act swiftly to remove any priest who may be accused of something. This appears to be what has happened to Father Corapi. So, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, from bishops paying people off and hiding these accusations, to now taking every accusation seriously, no matter how credible it may be. What happens then is that a priest’s name and character is tarnished forever, despite whether he is actually guilty or not. It think it is important for the Church to refine how it does business in light of this problem.
Again, I must repeat this, I cannot say that these accusations made against Father are credible or not, and the bishop ultimately must decide whether they are to be taken seriously. I cannot comment on the bishop that forced his suspension. He will have to answer to God for his decision, but it is his decision. What really matters here is how the bishops and the Church are going to handle accusations against priests in the future. It takes only one act of slander by a person who has a grudge against a priest to destroy him and take him out of his ministry. As I have stated before, this seems to be a well placed snare of Satan, where after lulling many priests and bishops into apostasy and lukewarmness, he is now later able to easily remove the good the clergy in the Church who are trying to protect the flock. It is a “double whammy.”
Father Corapi matters because if he follows through in leaving the priesthood, it seems to me that Satan has won a great victory over the priesthood. All of the work he has done over the past 20 years, will in my eyes, almost be laid to waste. No longer can his material be used in an effort to evangelize those outside the Church. In my opinion, his credibility will be tarnished even more so than if he were to admit guilt to the accusations. What Father Corapi does in regard to these accusations will also possibly influence other priests who are accused as well. Is it the best course of action, to pick up and leave the priesthood when something like this happens? I personally do not think that it is, even if the process is unjust, or even if the accusations are false. We all have our trials, and unfortunately this is a huge one for him. I have talked with many people who have had the same high opinion of Father Corapi as I do, and almost all of them think that the battle lies in the Church, not outside of it. Father has stood tall over the years in spite of staunch opposition, and I think he has always had a type of fighting spirit about him. As we all know, he loves to talk about military operations, weapons and tactics. In light of these accusations I expected nothing less from him than a tough, yet honest disposition. I did however expect him to go through with the investigation as he first said he would, and consequently stay in the Church as a priest, much like Father Euteneuer did when he went through a similar crisis. He was removed from HLI, he admitted some guilt, yet it appears that the accusations were much more serious than what actually happened. I think he was probably a casualty in the spiritual battle. Unfortunately he has since gone off the radar screen, yet in spite of this, his work still lives on. He may never be able to do what he did before, but that is OK in my eyes. He did what needed to be done when he was called by God to do it. For Father Corapi however, it may well be a much different scenario.
If Father Corapi steps out of the priesthood to form a new media company and reinvent himself, it will most likely spell disaster for everything has done for God over the last 20 years. I feel little confidence that his new work will surpass or supplement what he had produced before, and he may even possibly lead people away from the Church. Not intentionally, but by his example. Father Corapi seemed to imply in his recent statement that he was concerned about his future work. Yet I have to implore him to think about the work he has done for God over the past 20 years, and ask himself if it is worth gambling all of that for some future expedition as a “Lone Ranger.” One of the things that made Father Corapi great was not just his solid teaching, great preaching or his niche in being a no nonsense kind of guy. It was because he possessed these traits in the vocation of the priesthood. I cannot emphasize this point more. Catholics wanted a priest like Father Corapi, not a laymen like John Corapi. There are many laymen who may possess the traits that Father Corapi does, but there are few priests that have done what he has done in the way he has done it, and in my opinion this is why Father, not “laymen”, Corapi is so important. I am not implying that he is not important in his person, but that he is important as the figure he is today because he has been a “Father”, a priest, for those who wanted a real father. He possessed the fatherly traits that many faithful Catholics wanted in their priests. He protected those who were put in his charge, and for that, he is truly “Father” Corapi. If he leaves the priesthood voluntarily, guilty or not, he will no longer be that father. In reading the many comments on his new website, it seems that most want the very same thing right now from Father Corapi. They want him to continue being what they have always loved and admired about him from the beginning. Guilty or innocent, silenced or loudly preaching the Gospel, they want Father Corapi, not the black sheep dog John Corapi. I wish all of you fathers, a happy Father’s Day. Please keep Father Corapi, and all of our priests in your prayers.