You may have heard of the news that Fr. John Corapi, one of the most charismatic preachers and teachers of our generation, has been accused of abuse and misconduct. This happened about 4 months ago. Over the weekend, he broke the news that he will no longer be living the life of a Catholic priest. Rather, he will live life as a layman.
There is a lot that could be said about John Corapi. I chose to write about this today, because I feel that many have been touched by this man’s life. The Priestly Ministry which he carried for 20 years touched many very deeply. News of this has brought dark clouds of confusion to many whose consciences are deeply invested in serving truth and pursuing holiness.
First, with regards to John Corapi, I don’t know the substance of the allegations; I don’t know what due process has been given (or denied) him; I’m not his confessor or spiritual director. So, I really don’t have anything to say about him personally. It’s not mine to say, especially not on the Internet. We are dealing with a real man, here, not a movie character or something. This man is neither a superhero figure, nor a newly minted super-villan. Please don’t make him into either one. God could use us to do what He chose to accomplish through Corapi’s ministry. And so, the credit is ultimately not due to him alone. And we certainly don’t need God’s help to do what Corapi is accused of doing. We are all too capable of doing that.
This is maybe the main point that I am trying to communicate. Authentic reform comes from God, not men and women. It comes through them, but not from them. There has been a dangerous upswing in recent years of God’s people identifying more with the messenger than the Message Itself (who is God!). Sometimes the messengers (hierarchy, clergy, religious, lay leaders) take liberties by making themselves the message, as opposed to delivering the Message. With regard to Fr. Corapi’s situation, these dangers are all too present. I pray that things will take the right course, in the interest of real reform.
I think that many have turned to John Corapi over the years out of a hunger for real reform. We need real reform! In every generation, the Church needs reform! But that impulse can either lead to good things (see the 13th century for example) or bad things (see the 16th century for example). Vatican Council II was to catalyze a reform of the Church. And now, many discuss a “reform of the reform”. What will happen now?
I feel that we will soon reach a turning point, where we will realize the fruits of the reforming spirit of this past generation. And I hope sincerely for authentic reform of the Church: clerical, religious, and lay faithful. What is authentic reform? It is returning with humble and contrite hearts to God, and receiving His Message of mercy! Then, we live that Message of Mercy! The joy and peace of that Gospel Message will bring all of mankind into the household of the faith. We will indeed become, more and more, the Body of Christ. We will indeed possess all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, possessed on Pentecost Sunday.
This is a reform that you and I do not drive. We surrender to it. We trust it. We believe in it. It will become real in our world because of our relationship with it. Someone once said, “The truth isn’t something, the Truth is Somebody. That Somebody is Jesus Christ.” I couldn’t find better words to describe the True Reformer! Can we continue to allow the unity of His Body, the Church, be torn asunder, in the interest of “reform”? Can reform possibly come at the expense of the Oneness of the Faith? He founded the Church to be One. Isn’t this what the True Reformer really wants (John 17)?
The Oneness, the “Catholic” nature of the Church is an essential mark of authentic reform. Disunion is a counter-sign. May we always give ourselves over to the authentic reform, which will bring the Body of Christ to a full maturity. This is what I pray will be the result of John Corapi’s life and ministry. This is what I hope for all of us.