On Fr. Corapi and Accusations

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.

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16 Comments

  1. I’ve had to swear off Catholic-related blogs lately, because the incessant victim blaming and shaming is starting to wear.

    I wonder if some of the commenters would say such things about their own mothers and sisters…then I realize that if they didn’t act in narrowly defined ways, they probably would, which is even sadder.

    Either way in this mess surrounding Fr. Corapi, the Church loses. If it’s true, it’s one more priest. If the allegations are false, it’ll make it that much harder for people to come forward about true abuse.

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  2. In any setting where there is an inherent power imbalance between clergy-church members. It is much like a teacher-student, or doctor-patient, or therapist-client relationship, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden. And for good reason: because it almost always results in devastation, with individuals and the families.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
    snapjudy@gmail.com
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/

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  3. Via Facebook from James Hamilton:

    Very good post Mike. I agree wholeheartedly with you. It breaks my heart whenever I hear of priests who’ve been accused of wrongdoing. I remember the suffering Cardinal Bernadin went through until he was finally cleared and he had the strength to forgive his accuser. Very balanced and empathetic, yet morally congnizant piece.

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  4. Via Facebook from Paul Thomas Daly:

    Interesting article Mike. Don’t know anything about Fr. Corapi or the situation. But even if it’s untrue his career is over. Heard a story of a male teacher accused of sexual relations with a female high school student. The accusations were BS but he had to leave the district and find employment elsewhere. That’s how it is.

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  5. Via Facebook from Mike Young:

    A rumor has been around the world before The Truth puts on it’s shoes in the Morning.

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  6. James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”

    MUST READ: http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/

    It is my duty to believe in that rule of international application which states that “one is not guilty untill the contrary is proven.” Believe it in the name of Jesus, whom Father Corapi has fully served with devotion. I support Father Corapi and pray for him and invoke Saint Michael Arcangel to fight for the truth to be known right away…. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. AMEN

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  7. Hey Everyone! I’m a retired Marine—”been there and did that!” Whenever I point an accusing finger, my vindictive thumb points tellingly at me.

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  8. I would not put it past the left if they are behind the attak on Fr. Corapi. Who is this woman acusing Fr. Corapi. Does she have any ties to the left? Media Matters has launched an all out attack against FOX. I wouldn’t doubt this attack on Fr. Corapi is part of the lefts arm.

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  9. All our prayers be with Fr. Corapi.we will
    see you back on E.W.T.N.and you’ll be back
    even stronger. We love you Fr.and we’ll
    continue to pray the Rosary every day for
    you. God Bless you Fr.

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  10. I believe these accusations are all lies against Corapi. This man has overcome many things in his life and the devil is looking to destroy him and bring him back to darkness. I believe Father Corapi will come through this attack a little bruised, but victorious! Lord destroy the work of the devil in Father Corapi’s life.

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  11. Father Corapi is being attacked by a Jezebel spirit and we need to pray for the woman and him to be freed of this. He is innocent of this accusation. Until a Priest knows the name of the spirit he is coming up against he cannot fight it, and this is who it is, JEZEBEL. PRAY for Father Corapi to beat this spirit.

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  12. There are a couple of things I see here:

    First, why is father not appealing all the way to the Pope?
    For someone as famous and well known in the Catholic church as father is, surely the Holy Father would give him an audience.

    Quitting the priesthood will stumble the laity.
    I believe if one catholic is stumbled and leaves the church on account of this, then it is not worth it.
    And, let us be honest: Some will leave the church.
    I know I would not want that on my conscience.

    I joined the Catholic Church because it is the church Jesus established thru Peter.
    There is no other.
    It was never God’s will that the Church should splinter.
    Man do that, not God.

    The church may be imperfect at times, but it is never God’s will for it’s leaders to move away from their leadership roles within the church.
    Leaving may help expediate reform, but I believe there is a better way.
    Surely God would prefer that reform be fought for “within” the church, and not outside of it.
    That is essentially why we have Protestantism, because they tried to reform it from the outside.
    Jesus may tolerate sectarianism, but his prayer was that “they be one” (us), as he and his father are one.

    It makes no sense to me for a priest to give up and abandon his ministry to God’s faithful “within” the church because of the whims of one mentally ill individual.
    And we should not take Corapi’s side.
    The bishops obviously know things we do not.
    And they deserve our respect, because they are the successors to the apostles.
    But even if this is all political, again I say, why is Corapi abandoning the church in this matter?
    Where is the fight for truth that he has demonstrated for 20 years?

    No, I say his decision to abandon the priesthood raises even more suspicions.
    We simply don’t know the whole story or all the details.
    I know if I was falsely accused, I would take it all the way to the Pope if I had do.
    I would not abandon what Christ appointed me to, on account of what one person says, or some bishops say.
    And if the Pope didn’t help me, I would still be a priest (unless, of course, the Holy Father removed me)
    And I would still voice my disapproval, even to him.
    Remember that Paul did not shy away from our first Pope, but confronted him publicly about shunning Gentiles.
    Popes and bishops are not perfect, but that doesn’t mean that God wants us to splinter his church on account of them.
    We must stand up for truth and what is right, even if that means confronting our brothers and sisters, but always in gentleness and love.
    And if they don’t listen, we keep going up the ladder until we reach Peter’s successor!

    Remember, the church is Christ’s bride, not ours.

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  13. The good Priest should fight this and the church should investigate the matter. However, it sometimes boils down to a situation that cannot be proved. In that type of situation the church would offer to have him come back to being a Priest. It seems to me he didn’t want to fight this thing and sometimes you have to be brave and fight your accusers. Even if he did what he is accused of he still could be forgiven and come back to being a Priest. None of us are perfect, and even if he did what they say-the situation was with consenting adults, and the church could forgive him. Father Corapi, has to want to stay a priest, but I am not too sure that’s what he wants now. Father Corapi gives up to easy, the priesthood has to mean more to him than his ego. There have been situations that have been a lot worse and men have been forgiven and are still priests. Please Father Corapi don’t give up the only thing that matters to you, because know matter what happened you are still a priest forever.

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  14. Sometimes the very personality traits that make a person a great evangelist or performer or media personality verge on the pathological. Hence, the tendency towards drug use, promiscuity, and narcissicsm amongst popular personalties. Unfortunately, this also applies to those who work in the Church. People who appear in the media, especially if their appeal to the public is largely reliant on their personal charisma, must take great care to stay grounded and not “believe their own press”. They must also take great care not to encourage their followers to idealize them. It’s a difficult situation all-round. Although I was never particularly fond of Fr. Corapi’s style or some of his views, I can understand his appeal to some people.

    We must all take great care not to be idolatrous in our appreciation of media figures, whether they be secular or religious.

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