I’ve been quiet on this story for a bit, hoping that things will shake out faster than expected. However, things are slow and while I’m home sick for the rest of the week, I have had some time to reflect on this.
EWTN’s Fr. John Corapi has been accused by a woman of “drug addiction and multiple sexual exploits with her and other women.” He has been placed on administrative leave by his superiors until the truth can be ascertained.
I do not know, nor have I ever met Fr. Corapi. I have watched his television program a few times and have found him to be amusing and entertaining, even when I disagree with some theological points he’s made. He was in Buffalo last year and I was unable to attend his lecture. Full disclosure: His almost militaristic style is one that I don’t really like, per se, but I think he’s a good broadcaster and knows how to use the media well. I also believe that his conversion story is genuine and that he is sincere in his efforts to bring people to the faith. Perhaps he’s a bit of an egomaniac, but anyone in the public eye can fall to that allure, myself included.
I think the efforts of his superiors and those of ETWN to remove him from ministry and the airwaves is proper. While the presumption of guilt isn’t made along with the removal, I’m sure the accused feels otherwise. I know of men in the secular world who have been accused of sexual advances in the workplace and even when the charges were found to be false, there was always a bit of a raised eyebrow amongst their colleagues. When it comes to sex, whether priest or layman, we enter into a new realm of prudential judgement.
It saddens me when a priest is accused of anything, especially when the charges are legitimate. As in the case of Fr. Maciel of the Legionaires, those who enthusiastically support the accused will default to the opinion that “their beloved” could not possibly have done this. We should well keep in mind that even holy priests have personal sins and even may have great sins on their souls. Indeed we are all human beings. I often point out that we all have dark sides and there are things that I have done that I hope never comes into the public eye and those things aren’t close to what Fr. Corapi are accused of, so I can’t imagine what he must be feeling if these accusations are true.
We all have our own temptations to overcome. Perhaps Corapi’s temptations are indeed deep and perhaps he will need time to overcome them. That doesn’t presume his guilt straightaway. Rather, it gives us pause to reflect on our common humanity this lent. What are our own weaknesses that we have to overcome? What sins might you not want someone else to know about? What if you were accused of something you didn’t do or caught doing something improper?
The truth of the Fr. Corapi situation is that he is one of us. Someone who has his own failings, whether it’s those that he’s accused of or others is the issue in question. The sins we all hold are indeed things to pray that we can all overcome. Fr. Corapi’s accuser might also be someone to reflect on today. If the accuser is telling the truth then she has been violated by someone who we give great trust to, a Catholic priest. If she is unstable then she needs great care and forgiveness. If she’s lying then again, she is guilty of a sin that has brought deep public scandal to another.
While difficult to forgive the guilty, whoever they may be–we are called to it. May God give us that strength this lent.