As many of us are just becoming aware either last night or this morning, Fr. John Corapi has announced that he will be leaving public ministry. I'm quite certain this will come as a shock to a great many people, it was a shock to me. The video above is the statement he issued, it can also be found on his new website, under his new persona, the "Black Sheep Dog". Our prayers are certainly with him at this time. Fr. Corapi has done marvelous work in the course of the 20 years of his ministry. I was first introduced to him through his series of videos explaining the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I know he has been and continues to be an inspiration to many, and has no doubt brought many people to the faith.
All that being said, I can't help but find this statement somewhat troubling, and I know I'm not the only one. Many people in the history of the Church have been falsely accused of this or that, indeed some have drawn comparisons with Padre Pio and others. The simple fact of the matter is, that to put on a Roman Collar makes one a target, it's sad, but very true. You can do everything in your power to try and avoid it, but short of hiding in your room, periodically emerging to say Mass, you're never going to be totally off someone's radar screen. For priests it goes with the territory, to be a priest means to be another Christ, and Christ was falsely accused and condemned, should we not expect the same treatment. Of course it hurts all the more when it appears to come from within the Church itself, but it really shouldn't matter where it comes from, because God has permitted it for some reason.
St. Alphonsus Liguori in his short work, Uniformity with God's Will, says:
Furthermore, we must unite ourselves to God's will not only in things that come to us directly from his hands, such as sickness, desolation, poverty, death of relatives, but likewise in those we suffer from man -- for example, contempt, injustice, loss of reputation, loss of temporal goods and all kinds of persecution. On these occasions we must remember that whilst God does not will the sin, he does will our humiliation, our poverty, or our mortification, as the case may be. It is certain and of faith, that whatever happens, happens by the will of God: "I am the Lord forming the light and creating the darkness, making peace and creating evil." From God come all things, good as well as evil. We call adversities evil; actually they are good and meritorious, when we receive them as coming from God's hands: "Shall there be evil in a city which the Lord hath not done?" "Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God."
Ultimately it is not yet clear what Fr. Corapi means by his statment, he has not directly said he is leaving the priesthood, though it seems to be implied. He notes that given his present situation he had two options "1. I can quietly lie down and die, or 2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on." Are those really the only two options, is leaving the priesthood and maintaining his fanbase really the more appealing option rather than living a quiet life amongst his community. Being suspended, he had lost his priestly faculties, and I'm sure that was and still is very painful, but nonetheless, he is still a priest, and even leaving the active ministry he will remain a priest. I don't wish to judge, but sadly this seems more an act of pride, than a submission to God's will, even in an unjust situation.
Of course we all could only hope that faced with a similar situation that we would take the route of humility rather than trying to pridefully try to defend ourselves. Let us continue to pray for Fr. Corapi, that he will make the right choices, for the right motives. Let us pray for all priests that they will have the strength to stand up to the slings and arrows that come their way. Let us pray for each and every one of us, that we might have to courage and strength to accept God's will in our lives no matter how difficult it might be; "if we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10)