|Detail of Fr. John Corapi from |
his "Heaven & Hell" CD collection
Fr. John Corapi was considered among the greatest Catholic preachers of the 1990s and early 2000s. He left public ministry in June 2011.1 I blogged about his departure back then, including this timeline of events. A statement from a priest in his order claimed his behavior was "unbecoming of a priest." Rumors abounded that he engaged in improprieties with one or more women and possibly returned to drugs, from which he escaped decades ago. Fr. Corapi argued the canonical process was flawed, stating that his canonical and other attorneys concluded he "cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process."
Today, the Church faces a renewed look at the modern sex abuse scandal. More prominently figuring in coverage is that 80% of victims have been male and post-pubescent. This is consistent with data reported in 2004. Although this does not mean simply being "gay" makes one a predator, it does mean those who are gay and predatorial are active in the Church.
Reigniting the current attention to the scandal was the August 22, 2018 letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. In the letter, he describes a network of pro-homosexual and/or heterodox clergy having risen to key positions in the Church throughout the decades.
Viganó's account is striking because of the high position within the Church from which it comes. But it is not unique among clergy itself. A scathing exposition on the homosexual subculture and powerful clergy blocking faithful clergy was written in 2012 by Fr. Dariusz Oko. In June, journalist Rod Dreher recounted his efforts to break the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal as far back as 2002, but those with information would not go on record. A popular homily on August 26 by Fr. Robert Altier expounded on infiltration dating back to the early 20th century, as described in such places as the famous book AA-1025.
There are many other accounts describing the scandalous behavior of infiltrating culprits, roadblocks encountered throughout the decades by orthodox priests, and more. Heterodox clergy are at the highest levels. Faithful clergy are persecuted and threatened. With all this in mind, let's return to Fr. Corapi.
I recently listened again to a number of Fr. Corapi's talks from the 90s and early 00s. Whatever the truth about his departure, his talks were among the most popular the Church has heard in recent memory. They were candid, typically delivered passionately, truthful, and backed firmly by magisterial teaching. If you have old CDs or MP3s, I would recommend giving them a listen again. His messages from back then are largely just as relevant today.
FATHER CORAPI'S WORDS
Let's review several excerpts from Fr. Corapi's talks in light of what has been described about Church scandal today. Emphasis mine:
I sat in a meeting not that long ago with a number of bishops and theologians. I sat between two bishops. The one on my left said, “Well, we’re wasting our time in this meeting.” It was on moral theology. I said, “Why is that, Bishop?” He said, “Well, until we come out and publicly denounce Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae, we’re wasting our time.” Yeah, the Bishop said that. To my face. I didn’t read it on the front page of The Wanderer. He said it! My hearing was fine. I made him repeat it three times to make sure. The one on my right said, “I don’t think we can talk much about formation of conscience, you know, it’s in the catechism, but, you know, we have to tell our people they have to form their conscience to the world around them.” What? What do you mean by that? “Well, we’re not the only ones with a good idea. We have to be up to date and people of our times.” “What do you mean, that if the culture says that it’s all right to commit mortal sin, we should form our conscience in accord with that?” He said, “Oh, mortal sin, I doubt there is such a thing.” Now if you’d ever confront one of them with this, they’d deny it to your face. We tolerate evil men! And watch out, the consequences are about to come home to roost. ... (MP3)
Those self-styled apostles, who are nothing of the sort, you found that they don’t really teach what the Church teaches, however clever their language, however subtle their heresies. Let me tell you something, and I’m saying it straight out. There are two Churches right now. The right one and the wrong one — God’s Church and Satan’s assembly. (Apocalypse Now #2 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
A religious sister I knew for years, forty-some years professed in an active order, marginalized because she was faithful to the Church. Still wore her religious habit. Thought it was odd that the only novice they’d had in years was about to be professed, and she wasn’t invited. She also thought it odd that the ceremony was to take place on what she thought was the vigil of All Saints Day—midnight, Halloween in other words. She hid in the choir loft. What she saw can’t be repeated. It involved witchcraft and lesbianism. She confronted the superior the next day and was told “If you ever say a word, we’ll put you in a mental hospital. And it will be your word against ours, and you won’t win.” She came back from the school she had taught in for thirty years to find her suitcases in the parking lot and the locks changed. Her reward for forty-some years of religious profession. And a good lay woman had to come and take her to live with her. (Apocalypse Now #3 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
I sat in a room having dinner with a group of 10 priests two months ago. After dinner, one of my brothers said, “What do you think of the new encyclical on moral theology?” [probably Veritatis Splendor from August 1993] They didn’t know me. I was a stranger there. One of the priests responded, “He’s got some nerve trying to tell us what to do.” And it escalated. Like sharks smelling blood working themselves up into a frenzy. And the hatred that radiated out of that room would frighten you. And I’ve seen it for years. ... (MP3)
At a recent convocation of priests in a diocese in the northeast, [to] get together to discuss the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the main speaker, who had 90% of the time, said in a nutshell, “Don’t pay too much attention to it, boys.” And the bishop sat there. “Don’t believe it literally. Because we don’t believe that anymore. The parts on moral theology—ugh! They talk about sin! Never talk about sin. Talk about immature behavior. Talk about a psychological deficiency, but never mention sin. We don’t want to give anyone a guilt complex.” This is what’s going on in your Church and mine, the Bride of Christ. But the Bride of Christ is indefectibly holy and beautiful. But at the moment, She’s being attacked—in a sense raped. That is not alright with me, nor should it be with you. (To Love the Church is to Love the Lord, 1993) (MP3)
I know many places right now where a lie is being taught that there is no such thing as original sin. That is a heresy. In case you didn’t know it, you’re hearing it here. Heresy. Jesus Christ is divine without any question. That’s an old heresy that’s been recycled—Arianism. He is not merely human. He is fully God and fully man, true God and true man. The Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculately conceived, preserved without sin from all eternity in virtue of her son’s passion, death, and resurrection. Virgin before, during, and after birth. Dogma. Doctrine. Without faith in that it is impossible to please God. Why? Because He’s revealed it to us. We have a better idea than God? I think not. We smarter than God’s Church? I think not. And it is nothing but unmitigated callous arrogance to think that we know more than what’s been revealed. And there are millions, possibly, who fall into that category. And you can go in many diocese and see it taught at the highest levels, from the chancery office down, including in our seminaries. And then you wonder why Father has a problem. Then you wonder why Father has a moral problem. Then you wonder why Father isn’t feeding you with the substantive doctrine of truth. (The Truth is a Matter of Life and Death, 1993) (MP3)
Very often a moral problem is behind a doctrinal problem. Why is it that they can’t see that artificial contraception, homosexual behavior, just isn’t right? In some cases, part of their life. And how are you going to preach against it, unless you convert, change your life? (Attack on Truth, ca 2004) (MP3)OBSERVATIONS
Notice in the first story about the meeting with bishops, the bishops condemn the papal encyclical on human sexuality, Humanae Vitae. Fr. Corapi proceeds to then describe something like a competing subculture when he refers to "God's Church and Satan's assembly." Notice how Fr. Corapi describes teachers in the Church who try to make "conscience" the primary driver of "morality" instead of Church teaching.
We still see this. For example, in February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich stated in February 2018 that conscience must be the primary driver of morality instead of universal Church precepts. His statements remind us of the idea of the "dictatorship of relativism" then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about in 2005. In September, Cupich swiftly sanctioned a priest for burning a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung at his parish. Of Viganó's letter on Church sex scandal (which named Cupich), Cupich quickly called the allegations going down a "rabbit hole," made accusations of racism, and insisted the Church has a "bigger agenda" to worry about. Cupich also endorsed the book of and invited to speak a Jesuit priest who regularly promotes homosexual behavior, has referred to a man's same-sex partner as "husband," and hopes so-called "married" same-sex couples will kiss at the sign of peace in the same way married couples do. These are just examples of many occasions in which Archbishops, bishops, and priests deviate from Church teaching and deceive the laity.
Notice Fr. Corapi describe how a heterodox priest said to "never talk about sin." In Cupich's entire February talk, sin is mentioned once only when he quotes Pope Francis dismissing the idea that people in "irregular" relationships are necessarily in mortal sin. The concept of sin is supplanted with the notion of "accompaniment," which is mentioned in some form 18 times. He describes what includes sinful arrangements only as different types of "situations" some 10 times.
Notice in Fr. Corapi's story about the nuns and witchcraft, the faithful sister was threatened with mental rehab. A September 25 blog post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf describes the frequency of this same ploy used against orthodox priests.
Notice in the other stories the attack on authentic doctrine that often comes with corruption and moral problems. According to Viganó's now-famous report, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich's ascension to Archbishop. And McCarrick, as is now well-known, has been a central figure and culprit in the Church's sexual scandal for decades. Doctrinal and moral corruption, as Fr. Corapi described, often work in concert. Exceptions are not strong objections. If a doctrinal error is deliberately perpetrated by a clergyman who has not committed sexual scandal directly, he still, by virtue of diluting the truth of the faith, fosters the belief that Church morals are malleable.
REVISITING THE DEPARTURE
Many voices have now risen to describe the devil's vicious tactics to silence orthodoxy and promote immorality in the Church. It is not publicly known what was the true fate of Fr. John Corapi and why he ended his ministry. We know his popularity and willingness to call out heterodox bishops no doubt made him a thorn in the sides of infiltrating powers. We know in his younger years he lived a sinful life, including cocaine use and spending a year in a mental hospital. What happened with him in 2011 could range anywhere from him relapsing into sin or an infiltrating subculture of enemies plotting his demise. He could have succumbed to his old ways, or, in light of his past stay at a mental hospital, he could have been threatened by an infiltrating subculture with mental rehab as were many other priests.
He did start a website, since closed, under the name John Corapi minus his "Father" title for a brief period after departure. Criticism abounded even among faithful Catholics that he acted in disobedience no matter what happened. The entire affair seemed chaotic. It is my opinion that the quality of his talks particularly lost some sense of candidness and zeal somewhere in the mid-later 2000s. But, before that, he was arguably the best preacher of his time.
In June 2011 the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Rene Henry Gracida, stated: "I believe that he is justified in not seeking to clear his name through a canonical process; at the present time such processes are very flawed in most dioceses." In July 2011, a since-deleted post from the webmaster of Fr. Corapi's order, SOLT, cautioned against believing Fr. Corapi and that "Church authorities ... have been trying to bring him in for years."
What we do know is that Fr. Corapi's earlier talks often spoke candidly of a poisoned Church, including the hierarchy. We know that his theology was firmly grounded in orthodox truth. In re-listening to his stories, we can see that they are consistent with many others who have since come forward to describe improprieties, heterodoxy, and infiltration in the Church.
What we can learn from Fr. Corapi's and others' accounts from years past are clues to what attention we should give to what warning signs. He warned of an overlap of doctrinal and moral deviance. We must be alert to linguistic snakery that gives way to doctrinal and moral corruption. It may be necessary to intensify sanctions regardless of whether a clergyman deviates even slightly from a dogma or commits grave sin. In another talk, Attack on Unity, Fr. Corapi proposed the notion that a lack of understanding in Thomistic metaphysics and philosophy has resulted in a "downhill" trend in theology, because many teachers fail to understand the meaning of "being," for example. Many are calling for a return to a more traditional liturgy and traditional Church decor and iconography. If doctrinal and moral faults are as intertwined as they appear, then the Church's solution to this crisis must include doctrinal correction in addition to a systemic correction of checks and balances. If it takes a soft inquisition to purge any defiant, unbelieving clergy, so be it.
Remember the famous quote from then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1969:
The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. ... As the number of her adherents diminishes...she will lose many of her social privileges. ... But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. (Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Future, 1969)Time will tell if the Spirit wills such a purgation to shrink the Church and raise it again to "great power." We must pray for wisdom and invoke Our Lady, the angels, and saints.
Decades have passed while several voices have cried out in the wilderness as did Isaiah or Jeremiah during tumultuous times for God's people. The time for purification of this scandal is overdue.
1Fr. Corapi's current whereabouts and status are difficult to ascertain. I sent an inquiring message to his former order, SOLT, on Monday, Sept. 24, but have not received correspondence as of Oct. 3, 2018.
St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson's Truth Overruled on marriage between a man and woman.
Austin Ruse on the science of fatherless or motherless children.
Dr. Jeff Mirus: In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?
Phil Lawler: The McCarrick scandal & the gay lobby: a problem the bishops won’t address
Dr. Janet E. Smith: McCarrick, dissent from ‘Humanae vitae’, and the ‘sensus fidelium’.
Rod Dreher: Voice of Conscience = Voice of God, a critique of Arch. Cupich
The Catholic Voyager: Psychology of a pedophile