On Ash Wednesday, 2011, a woman known to John Corapi, sent a letter to several bishops accusing Corapi of drug dependency, sexual exploits with her and other women. Corapi was placed on ‘administrative leave’ following this. John Corapi’s high profile case comes now when many accused priests are on administrative leave – and are aggravated, even depressed that they are in ‘limbo’, waiting for their case to be heard and for the possibility that their name will be cleared. Fr Corapi has implicated the woman accusing him (‘the bishop’s star witness against me’) as not being ‘sober’ or ‘sane’. John Corapi repeatedly refers to his accuser’s ‘acute alcoholism’. Fr Corapi has resigned from public ministry because he says, ‘I have no choice… No reasonable chance of being reinstated..’ and that he ‘can’t expect a fair outcome’. John Corapi has gone on to say that ‘90%’ of his priestly ministry had always been preaching. And that he will continue to preach, but will not say Mass or hear Confessions. John Corapi is an undoubtedly gifted speaker. Padre Pio rarely preached a sermon at Mass; he had been advised from a young age that his health was not robust enough to withstand the pressures of preaching. But Padre Pio’s Mass was itself the sermon.
Padre Pio’s suspension or ‘imprisonment’ began in June 11th 1931. A directive had come from the Vatican that he was forbidden from saying Mass in public and from hearing confessions. When the news was given to St Pio, he covered his eyes with his blood-stained, stigmatised hands and said, “may the will of God be done.” Then Padre Pio immediately went to pray before a crucifix. Padre Pio never made protests judgments about the sanity of his accusers. For the two years that followed Padre Pio said a three-hour Mass in the private chapel of the Friary and the chapel door was closed. No member of the public was allowed to be present. During these lonely two years, it was widely believed that Padre Pio’s suspension would be permanent, and that St Pio would never again be a priest in the main Church.
Later it was proved that Padre Pio was innocent of all charges – a historical fact.
We do not know that John Corapi is completely blameless, we do not even know if he is partially at fault. John Corapi has said "all of the allegations in the complaint are false”. Yet, in his You-Tube broadcasts, John Corapi tells us that ‘we’ do not know all the facts and all the details. OK. Got that. But by the same token, if we do not know ‘all’ the particulars – may we fully trust John Corapi’s protestations of innocence? May Corapi expect us this of us? He has to allow for the fact that if he can’t (and yes, he can’t) disclose full details of the case, then he asks us to rely on his word, and his good will.
This is not an attempt to blame Corapi. It is an effort to separate him from closely associated with beloved Padre Pio. The biggest, and most hazardous difficulty in categorising Fr Corapi and St Pio together – is that we know now that Padre Pio was completely innocent and untarnished. Fr Corapi may profess his innocence – but who can say that they know beyond all doubt that this is entirely true? The comparison with Padre Pio is based on the assumption that John Corapi is guiltless.
In his You-Tube broadcasts John Corapi is reiterating that he can’t stay in the priesthood and ‘die’. But every ordained priest is in alter Christus – and like Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins – a priest may be required to suffer and die. There’s endless chatter about bishops who are ‘out to get Fr Corapi’ because Fr Corapi in a voice like a marching drum, has told ‘the truth’ and has purportedly earned the wrath of the bishops. With his self-styled role of outsider/outcast, or ‘Black Sheepdog’, John Corapi is presenting himself as a causality of the Catholic Church. This seems quite the inverse of the vocation of the priest, who may, like Jesus Christ, be called on to die for Mother Church.
his blog, which are causing dire rumours (yes, they are rumours because ‘we’ do not know enough details to make a conclusive case) it’s made to sound as though he has to escape a terrible fate – by leaving the priesthood and giving up his habit. And this collects a lot of sympathy. That apocalyptic image of him as a fearsome hound with innocent sheep reflected in one eye, and bloodthirsty wolves in the other, conveys a not-so-subtle message that some prowl around him, preying on him.
John Corapi is however gathering grass-root support from a global garden of Catholics. Yet, is it uncharitable to ask; if Fr Corapi’s many supporters later find out that he is in fact guilty, will their faith wither away? If their faith in built on Fr Corapi, who’s foundation may be built on sand, will their faith crumble with his reputation?
PS – Supporters of John Corapi who read this blog, and may want to ‘unfriend’ me on Facebook or unfollow this blog. But I'm not against John Corapi. This post is not casting blame or aspersions on Corapi, it merely argues that the comparison with Padre Pio is hasty, and will remain unfounded until Corapi’s blamelessness is fully established.