As I sit in my hotel room in Dallas on a business trip, one of the things that I wanted to take time to do is to post a new entry to my blog since it has been several months since my last posting. There are many things that I wanted to write about, then as I was outside enjoying my pipe, thumbing through my TWITTER feeds, I saw the headline "FR. JOHN CORAPI LEAVING PRIESTHOOD" http://bit.ly/lZEa3b. I must admit that my heart did sink abit when I read the tweet as I have been awaiting some news since I learned of his temporary removal from priestly duties. For those of you who may not know Father Corapi, there are many videos on YouTube you can watch, including his conversion story. This is a man who lived in the world, and lived a life all about him, until God saved him and from that point he went to Seminary and became a priest, but not just any priest. This is a man who many considered to be at the forefront of the Catholic Church. He has the powerful delivery of a Charismatic pastor, yet for years has set forth the true and faithful teaching of the Church....until a couple of months ago.
What happened at that point is that he had been accused of some inappropriate actions toward one of his employees. At that point, his order and the Bishop pulled him from public ministry until the investigation has been completed and the truth could be found. Now no process is perfect and I can understand that after the scandals of the past 10 years in the Church, there is an increased and potentially overstepping of some boundaries that have been set in place. There are some, like former "Father" Corapi who complain that in the new system, the Priest is judged too soon to be guilty and if they are not, then there are reputations that are irreparably broken and tarnished and I can see that. But I see other things in this situation.
Several months ago I finished a biography on St. Pio of Pietrelcina. If you are not familiar with this Saint, I would highly recommend that you do some reading on this man and his life. Early in his life, St. Pio was given the Stigmata by our Lord and for years there were many Bishops, and others in authority that did all they could to keep St. Pio out of ministry. Many claimed that he was a fraud, possessed by demons, a charlatan and many conspired against him even taking it to the Pope to have him sent to a remote monastery away from the public. St. Pio knew what he was going through was not fair. He knew it was an attack, but he reacted in quite a different way than what we see with Fr. Corapi...he accepted it. Padre Pio realized that when he took his vows as a friar, he submitted himself to his order and he was not about to raise up because his rights were being violated, or because people didn't understand him. He accepted the fact that he may spend the rest of his life in a remote monastery and he was willing to accept that. That, unfortunately is not what I see or hear in Father Corapi's statement.
I came Home to the Catholic Church after spending the majority of my life in the Charismatic/Nondenominational church and I grew up with the fall of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and all the rest. I remember Jimmy Swaggart leaving the Assembly of God denomination because "his ministry could not survive without him" (my paraphrase). This arrogance always bothered me and it bothers me now with Father Corapi. When you are ordained a Priest, you are ordained a Priest forever and that will not change. What I see and hear is not about submission and humility at all, but rather self defense and egotism. This is at stark contrast to the experience of St. Pio which I described earlier. Father Corapi would be well to learn that God is his vindication and that he has committed himself to submission of his superiors....even if they are in the wrong and even if he never spoke in public again....EVER.
This saddens me, but it doesn't shake me. When I came into the Church I remember one of my good Catholic Friends told me "Beware the cult of Personality." So I now tell my Catholic friends the same. Father Corapi is a person with a huge personality. He spoke and taught the truths of the Church, but now he has left...but the Church remains and so does her teachings. My faith is not in any Priest, but in Christ and the Church he established. I pray for Father Corapi that he may find his way, but in the meantime, I will remain with The Church.