Scriptural Reflections on Fr. Corapi and Casey Anthony

By now everyone knows that a jury in Orlando has found Casey Anthony “Not Guilty” of murdering her two-year old daughter.  Meanwhile many of the Catholic faithful are discovering that, according to the religious community to which he belongs, the charismatic Fr. Corapi is indeed guilty of many of the charges leveled against him.

What does Scripture say to us about these two cases?  First as regards Fr. Corapi, it teaches that the possession of great and genuine charisms, whether those distributed by the Spirit or those that come through the sacrament of orders, are no proof of the spiritual standing of the person who exercises those gifts.

As a priest and evangelist, God worked powerfully through Fr. Corapi (see this message from some whose lives have been touched), even though his personal life was gravely out of order.  But this does not contradict Jesus teaching:

Matthew 7:20-23   20 So by their fruits you will know them.  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, 1 but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’  23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. 1 Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Jesus does not dispute that such individuals truly prophesied in his name or truly cast out demons.  They did!  According to Jesus, these are not the fruits by which we can recognize true prophets. Rather, we are to look for those “who do the will of my Father in heaven,” i.e., those whose personal lives are marked by holiness, by obedience to God’s word (see the verses that immediately follow, 24-27).

All charisms, including sacred orders, are given to benefit others, to benefit the Church; they will only benefit those who possess them if they live in obedience to their Lord.

So, do we simply condemn Fr. Corapi as a false prophet and evildoer?  By no means!  His story isn’t over yet.  Remember David’s sin and repentance (2 Sam 11-12; Ps 51).  Remember Samson’s foolishness and the final act by which he delivered God’s people (Jdg 16:23-30).

I believe Fr. Corapi has good intentions, but is weak and wounded by sin, like the rest of us.  In hindsight it seems clear that he had not overcome his previous addictions, that like most addicts he needs lifelong practice of the Twelve Steps, and that he needed more, not less, community life on account of his public ministry.  Let’s pray for him that he may humble himself, repent, and receive the help he needs to bear truly good fruit, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), and so be saved and help to save others.

Let’s pray for all those who benefited from Christ’s grace at work in and through Fr. Corapi, that they may not stumble on account for Fr. Corapi’s fall, but remain faithful to Christ, the true source of the grace they received.

A brief thought related to the Casey Anthony decision.

I am reading through Isaiah and in particular, a section that speaks of God’s judgment at the end of history (Isa 24-27).  Yesterday I happened on this verse:

Isaiah 26:21   See, the LORD goes forth from his place, to punish the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants; The earth will reveal the blood upon her, and no longer conceal her slain.

In other words, in the long run no one ever gets away with murder.  The Torah is very insistent on how seriously God takes murder (see Gen 4:10, 9:6; Num 35:33; Deut 19:10-13; 21:1-9).  The prophets through to the book of Revelation (18:24) confirm that God will redress this wrong.

Am I saying Casey Anthony murdered her daughter?  No. God knows, I don’t.

In fact, our legal system’s principle of the presumption of innocence comes from the Bible.  In all serious cases and especially in capital cases (and in regard to accusations against presbyters, i.e., priests), both the Old and New Testament insist that “two or three witnesses” are necessary to convict and punish a person for wrongdoing (see Deut 17:6; 19:15; Matt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tim 5:19).

This is a very high standard of evidence.  In the world of today one could posit that forensic, circumstantial, or other kinds of evidence could equal the weight of two eyewitnesses, although that would need to be clear.  If anything, this suggests that American jurisprudence requires less stringent evidence of wrongdoing than does biblical law.

The reality is that people commit many serious crimes for which the biblical standard of evidence can never be met.  Thus, in order to protect the innocent from false condemnation, God’s law permits many guilty people to go scot free and unpunished in this life.

But that is because God sees things from a longer range perspective, as we should.  Perfect justice will be done in God’s court, but not until then.  No one should allow himself or herself to imagine their wrongdoing will go unpunished,  because no human being knows or can prove it, or that their good deeds will go unrewarded.  Let us prepare ourselves and our friends, neighbors, and children for “the day when… God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus” (Rom 2:16; 2:5-8).

The best preparation for everyone is faith and conversion, since God is merciful toward those who turn to him (1 John 1:7-9).

Comments

  1. Timothy J. Meyer says:

    AMEN…beautiful perspective!

  2. Thank you! Thank you! for this post. There is so many people vehemently arguing on either side of the Fr. Corapi issue, that I think they lose sight of the truths of these Scripture passages which you have shared. And certainly, the point is not to become divided as a people over this. A friend of mine commented on this quite early, stating that while Fr. Corapi had a great influence in her personal conversion to the faith, what she felt most about the affair was … freedom. Because our trust is in God and the Church as sustained by the Holy Spirit and not any one man, gifted though he may be, or sinful as he may be. But the truth which is contained within the deposit of faith will remain with us and for us, and in this should we place our trust.

    Whatever his actions, Fr. Corapi’s responses, despite their bravado, have the ring of a man in pain. I have no reason to doubt SOLT’s statement as to his guilt, and believe that the last thing they would do would be to publicly announce something like this, and especially if they were not certain of the facts. On both sides, I pray for healing and reconciliation.

    I suppose that is my final position: in all humility, I don’t know all the facts, probably never will and, to be honest, don’t really need to know. What I do need to do is pray. For Fr. Corapi, for the SOLT, for people who have allowed this to turn their hearts against their neighbors in discussion and otherwise, for those who are questioning their faith as a result, and for all of our priests, bishops, catechists, teachers, and friends in Christ that we daily make the decision to live according to His Will and humbly submit ourselves to His authority and plan for our lives.

    God Bless!

  3. “we daily make the decision to live according to His Will and humbly submit ourselves to His authority and plan for our lives.”

    Amen, that is what being a Christian is all about. Following our Lord and dedicating our life to him every single day.

  4. Lankester says:

    You are wrong, give Fr. Corapi his day in court. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

  5. I hate to sound like a broken record, but Thank You.

  6. Brad McNeal says:

    “We are not cured..What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition..Thy will, not mine be done.”
    I pray Fr. Corapi recalls these words. they are crucial to continual recovery.

  7. Larry B. says:

    While I am inclined to believe the SOLT press release I still harbor questions about the process. With no cross examination of witnesses I, as an American am a bit perplexed in an order simply saying everything is cut and dried. And a press release. Come on. If SOLT found him guilty then the leader of that group should stand before the press and make the statement in person. Where is the court? Whether criminal, civil or ecclesiastical there has to be a court. If Corapi is guilty so be it. But their press release was not much different from Santa Cruz press releases. It had the ring of covering their bases because they are the ones who let this loose canon out there and never once questioned what was going on. My guess is their lawyers told them they better get something out there or the plantiffs in this case will own SOLT lock stock and barrel.

  8. Milites Domini says:

    “the charismatic Fr. Corapi is indeed guilty of many of the charges leveled against him.” !! Who says? The audacity and arrogance in this irresponsible comment! It is amazing how “professional Catholics” (those siding with liberal bishops (sadly a good many of them) to make a profit (good old $$$$$ money is their bottom line) and lukewarm Catholics, and I use the word “Catholic” very loosely come together in these type of events to attack a good priest. Just look at the blogs. You can make a list of all those liberal, heretical so-called Catholics attacking Fr. Corapi. They very clearly identify themselves. Keep track of who these people are. God have mercy on their souls.

  9. This is a sad series of events for any who love the Church. The order thinks that John Corapi is not fit for ministry. That should be the end of it for anyone who is dedicated to the spreading of the faith.

  10. This is a disturbing scandal and seems to be dividing the faithful. There are a couple good articles by Deacon Dan Gannon on http://www.catholicurrent.com/#/, which take a pastoral approach and give hope that a greater good may come from all this.

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