Monday, June 20, 2011

Thoughts on Father Corapi by the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi


Great Pyrenees Sheep Dog Guarding the Flock

By Bishop Rene Henry Gracida

FIRST OF ALL LET ME ESTABLISH THAT I HAVE NOT SPOKEN WITH FATHER CORAPI. fact that he has chosen the nom de plume of The Black Sheep Dog is revealing:  he cares for the flock of sheep he has been ministering to all these years, sheep that he well knows are of the Lord’s flock, not his.
As a suspended priest he cannot function publicly as a priest, but he can continue to evangelize as long as he does not present himself to the public as a priest.

Every baptized person is given the obligation of being a witness to the truth, of being an evangelizer.  In Father Corapi’s case, the obligation is all the greater in view of the gift of the sacramental priesthood he has been given.  Prevented (hopefully only temporarily) from exercising that priesthood in a public manner during his suspension, he is aware of his obligation to be a witness to the truth and to continue to evangelize.  He evidently intends to do so until his suspension is lifted not as Father John Corapi but as The Black Sheep Dog.

As a good sheep dog he will continue to try to protect the flock from the dangers of heresy, heterodoxy, and all other forms of untruth.

I think it is a stroke of genius that he chose the image of the sheep dog’s eyes for his blog’s masthead.  I have a ranch.  I have sheep.  I have two wonderful sheep dogs, one a Great Pyrenees and the other an Anatolian Shepherd.  I know that they are constantly on the alert for dangers threatening the sheep.  They look with one eye for coyotes  (we do not have wolves in South Texas) and they constantly keep one eye on the sheep.  His avatar is perfect for the role he intends to perform as a shepherd.

Now, until his suspension is lifted, he is free from the Church’s prohibition on clerics participating in the political life of the nation.  Given his past outspoken criticism of the current slide of our government to become more and more like the socialist governments of Europe, I think that we can expect to hear The Black Sheep Dog speak out more openly on the burning issues we will face in the election year of 2012.  I know from my own experience that God sometimes “writes straight with crooked lines” as the Portuguese put it, and so perhaps God is using this new (unwanted) freedom from ecclesiastical restraint to permit The Black Sheep Dog to say some important things in the next 16 months on those burning issues.

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.  Rather I would like to believe that he intends to try to clear his name through the civil courts.  Since I believe that his accuser is a former manager of his media company who he terminated with some kind termination agreement, and since she has evidently sought revenge for her termination by writing to the Bishop of Corpus Christi denouncing Father John, I believe that it is possible for him to do so and I wish him every success in such an endeavor.  The basis for his lawsuit would probably be defamation of character, libel, extortion, breech of contract, or whatever.

Reading some of the comments on his blog I am appalled at the viciousness of some of them.  It is obvious that there is very little if any love in the hearts of some of the writers.  It is almost as though some of those writers are filled with hatred for the Catholic Church and/or its priests.  It is possible to disagree about almost anything without resorting to ad hominem personal attacks.

What many of these hostile commentators seem to be unaware of is the fact that Father John Corapi does not belong to a religious order or congregation.  He belongs to a Society of Apostolic Life.  He is not a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, he is incardinated in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity,  a diocesan Society of Apostolic life that I established in the Diocese of Corpus Christi when I was the Ordinary of the Diocese.  He has never held an assignment in the Diocese nor has he ever worked in the Diocese.   Following his ordination in Rome in 1991 by Blessed Pope John Paul II he has ministered in many places, but not in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.  With the permission of his superiors he established his media company in Montana and has lived there ever since.  As a member of that Society (The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) Father John is not bound by a vow of poverty.  He is bound by a promise of obedience to his superior, the General Priest Servant of the Society.

These are just a few thoughts on Father John Corapi’s announcement yesterday.



Adrienne said...

I agree with the good bishop.

The attacks on Father Corapi are breathtaking in their viciousness.

The worst of the attacks are from "professional" Catholics who earn their living by the sale of their books and highly paid speaking engagements.

Deborah said...

Thank you Bishop Gracida for writing this. I agree with everything you said. I'm sure Father Corapi is very grateful as well for defending him. He needs all the friends and supporters he can get right now. This is a very dark time for him and instead of condemning him we should all be praying for this Good and Holy man. God does work in mysterious ways. Who really knows what His plans are for our Black Sheep Dog? I have faith in him that he will do good things where ever he goes and continue to bring others to Jesus and His Church through The Truth. In His Love