Friday, June 24, 2011

Sadie Frown of the Week: Catholic Coverage of Father Corapi

As an avid Catholic News follower, it’s hard to escape the coverage of Father Corapi and the drama that has played out over the last, rather short span, of days. There was the initial onslaught when he announced the accusations that had been brought against him, in which many bloggers that I usually enjoy reading were suddenly transformed into, well… less than charitable versions of themselves (see the Vortex take on the spectacle here)… while the rest of us prayed that it would be resolved quickly and that Father Corapi would be proven innocent of any wrong doing and would be back to work in a matter of weeks.

I knew that the dream was unrealistic, but still, hope isn’t easy to squash, and so I clung to it and waited for news, which was really all that any of us could do.

I’ll admit, I tend to be skeptical when I hear accusations, until proof is presented. I’ve seen too many addicts (meth is what’s popular in my area) think that they could make a quick buck by accusing an innocent, hard working citizen in a community of something evil, to give too much credit to any accuser before the accused has their day in court (and have learned that an addict’s lies usually fall apart in depositions… because… well… the brain cells required to keep lies straight don’t usually survive and addiction very well…).

Then came Fr. Corapi’s latest (major) announcement. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure exactly how to take his words. I was reeling when I posted the link so that any of you who hadn’t heard the news could read it for yourselves and make of it what you would. There was one thing that I did know, however. I knew that the same bloggers who were so ready to throw Fr. Corapi under the bus when this all began, were going to be more than ready to continue their earlier work. In fact I had an inkling that they were salivating over the latest announcement.

The way many of the Catholic-media articles I read spoke of Fr. Corapi lacked charity altogether. The way they spoke of people who learned from him was nearly as disturbing. It was as if they thought enjoying Fr. Corapi’s programs, or learning something from them, was some sort of horrible character flaw, and that those who watched his programs regularly were mindless drones.

I understand that his style of speaking may not suite everyone and that’s fine. We all learn in different ways. But the outright condemnation and the onslaught of “I always knew there was something wrong with him and the masses who listened to him…” comments said far more about the writers who typed the words than they ever did about the man of which they spoke.

My heart ached for him when I heard his latest announcement, and I’ll admit that I was torn when I read his words. Paul told me that I should blog about it, but I just didn’t feel ready to put my thoughts into words. And besides, what do I know? What can I say? I’m not in Father Corapi’s shoes. And I pray that I’m never in a situation when the basic pieces of my vocation are torn from me.

So here are my somewhat scattered thoughts.

My initial reaction, after reading and hearing Fr. Corapi’s words, was that I wished he had reacted a bit differently. Paul pointed out that saints are saints, but that they still often reacted to the situations that they were in according to their personalities, and that this was very much in keeping with Father Corapi’s personality.

I responded that I just wished he could have waited longer before making this announcement in which he no longer referred to himself as “Father” and that he had bore the accusations as Saint Gerard Majella and Saint Padre Pio had, silently, despite the unfairness of the accusations made against them.

Yet I couldn’t really say those words with much conviction… because, while I know what I “think” is the right thing for a priest in this situation to do (because of what the saints in the past have done) I’m not sure I could remain silent if my name was being dragged through the mud and slandered. Actually, I’m pretty sure I would be protesting that I was innocent at the top of my lungs and would tell anyone who would listen the story of the injustice done against me.

The life that Father Corapi had is over. Are the decisions he’s making the right ones? I honestly don’t know. But I do know that the answers aren’t as cut and dry as they’ve been made out to be.

Maybe the writers who are condemning Corapi are so incredibly advanced in their journey towards sainthood that they’re able to easily make the decision to bear any burden without so much as wincing… or maybe their just fortunate that they’ve never been tested (or seen a loved one tested) in such a painful way, and as a result they lack the compassion and empathy that we should have for everyone involved in this awful situation.

Whatever the reason, the reactions that many have had to this situation aren’t reactions I can imagine any of the saints I can think of having.

I guess we all have a little more work to do on our own paths towards sainthood…

Saint Gerard of Majella, pray for everyone involved in this situation that they may be drawn closer to God.


  1. I know what you mean about being skeptical of accusations.

    From personal experience, I knew a priest who was my spiritual director for some time. Wonderful, kind, holy man. A 30 something married woman accused him of rapping her (6 years after the incident "happened") He had known the women in question for many years, was the priest at her wedding, etc. She claimed that he had been molesting her for 10 years and then he finally raped her. She claimed all of this happened from the time she was 22 to 32. Of course no criminal charges were filed because there was not enough evidence but she did sue for a few million and the diocese settled her case a long with some of cases against other priests. Now, I do believe that the priest in question made some bad judgment calls. However, I don't believe for one second this woman's story especially since she was a woman not a child, the so called "abuse" went on while she was a full grown adult, and she waited so long to accuse him. Plus I don't think the diocese would have settled this case if it wasn't for the other cases/ bad publicity. People who make false accusations make it more difficult for true victims to come forward. In every profession, there are always a few bad apples. I think the profession where there is the most child abuse is teachers, oddly enough. And I by no means feel that people who are abusers should not be held accountable; however, I have seen too many honorable people pulled through the mud in order for someone else to make a quick buck. It doesn't seem right that the unjustly accused have to suffer, and the person that accuses them get off with no consequences.


  2. Personally I find the whole thing very unfortunate and sad.

    I don't know whether the accusation made against him is true or not. I don't care too much either to be honest. What does it have to do with me? Either it is true and he is a sinner like the rest of us (who isn't?) or it isn't, which wouldn't surprise me. Fr. Euteneuer admitted his guilt but it doesn't negate all the good work he has done. So, in some sense, the accusations don't matter to me very much.

    That said, I personally disapprove of his choice to not be called Father and submit in humble obedience to the Church. Everything I've ever read by the Saints stresses obedience to the Church and Church authorities as so amazingly pleasing to God. I also found his comment about the sacraments a bit disconcerting. It reminded me of a Mass I was at once where, after Communion and the choir had finished its song, the priest stood up and said, "The Eucharist is nice but with a choir like that..." and then proceeded to applaud them. If Christ and the Eucharist is not the central focus for ANY priest, there is something amiss.

    I could not "cast the first stone" but do pray he returns in obedience to the Church as "Father."

  3. I think that for me, and I'll admit I've never particularly watched or listened to Father Corapi,the thing that is most disturbing is the lack of clarity in what he's saying. He's said he's a priest forever, a correct response since ordination fundamentally changes you. He's said he'll no longer be called Father which implies he's seeking to returned to the lay state (an option, but one which takes some time to happen). Then he makes it clear he's going to continue to be speaking, writing, etc. My understanding that when a priest is suspended he has to cease any public ministry. Now Fr. Corapi admits he has rarely been involved in sacramental ministry. The ministry he's been involved in is largely a speaking one. So isn't he continuing to be involved in public ministry contrary to the terms of his suspension? I'm no expert in canon law, but I know that it takes time for priests to be released back into the lay state, it isn't an automatic thing. Simply abandoning the use of the title "Father" doesn't do it.

    I also would have wished that Fr. Corapi could have followed the model of Padre Pio and St. Gerard. I understand the outrage. I know that there have been falsely accused priests, we have one in our diocese, who eventually had his suspension removed. He proclaimed his innocence, and then remained quiet in public until he was exonerated. I don't even object to Father pursuing legal claims. I simply don't understand how continuing in a speaking and writing "ministry" doesn't fall under the umbrella of public ministry that is contrary to the terms of his suspension.

    I agree that many, many people have failed in charity. Some of them doubtless have done so in part because they are weary of the number of very public priests who have turned out to be guilty of misconduct (from John Bertolucci, to Ken Roberts, to Francis Mary Stone, to Eugene Clark, and on and on). I don't know whether (as some people tend to believe) they had a particular ax to grind with Father Corapi or not. The lack of charity is inappropriate to say the least. However, in many ways Fr. Corapi's lack of clarity has made it easier for those seeking to demonize him.

    I think that if Fr. Corapi had been, from the beginning, living in community as Father Groeschel, for example, has been, he would have been both less vulnerable to the accusations, and less vulnerable to the envy of those who look at his lifestyle askance.

    It's hard to be a priest these days in any situation. Father Longenecker had an excellent piece about some of the difficulties in dealing with criticism and accusations that priests can face. I think that we as lay people need to be very, very careful about critical attitudes, and making sure that we don't too readily believe every accusation. On the other hand, priests whose ministry has brought them a lot of "fans" need to recognize the dangers that come with that. Those dangers are both from the outside (in the form of people who would seek to destroy them) and from the inside in the form of spiritual temptations to pride, and a sense of entitlement. I have no idea which of these has put Fr. Corapi in the position he is now. I do know that the things he's said thus far have simply further muddied the waters for me.

  4. Finally, someone with some sense.

    The thing that got me in all of this is the vicious nature of so many people. God save me from being in the spotlight when my trial comes. The blogging world turns into pack of hyenas pouncing at the first sight of blood. Their whooping and cackling is sickening to the heart.

    They didn't even wait for the ink to dry on the page (so to speak) before the anathemas began to fly. Each 8-bit pope reading something different into the matter, but all agreeing that this lion of a preacher had been nothing but a sham all along. Despite all my cynicism, I was shocked at this display.

    In short, I agree with your take.

  5. Excellent post. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you've written.

    We should be surrounding Father Corapi and all those involved with this situation in prayer, not slam-blasting the decisions made, even if we disagree with them.

    Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in free speech; but, I also believe that just because you CAN say something doesn't me you SHOULD. Charity and discretion should underline our words - something that has been sorely lacking by many of the bloggers writing about Father Corapi's situation.

  6. As I mentioned in your post where you broke the news, I signed up for his new blog. I have seen the few posts he has done, and have admittedly been confused. As of right now, there is no 'ministry' or preaching going on.

    Also, it is my understanding, and I may be wrong, that according to the terms of his suspension, he is not to use the name 'father' when referring to himself. If that is the case, then I no longer see it as an attempt to layicize (sp?) himself.

    One thing he did say was that no matter what the outcome, there are facts that the public will never know. Therefore, even if it were our place to judge, we are not able to without all the facts.

    One thing I noticed though, was that you didn't have to be a Catholic blogger to jump on the judgement train. There were quite of a few of us ordinary people doing plenty of that on his blog as well. Such hateful comments there were!

    I agree with Katherine - his guilt or innocence is not as important to me right now. Of course, I find him innocent until proven guilty; but there are other things that seem more important to me. First there is the potential for hero-worship on the people's part and pride on his. Both are detrimental to his message. Then there's this new reaction - will people see this as reminiscent of Martin Luther? Will it result in a schism within the church? I hope not because I think he's been clear on the fact that he is not leaving the church; that he has nothing against the Catholic faith.

    There's one thing for sure in all of this: the enemy's mark is all over it.

    St. Gerard, pray for us. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

  7. I agree regarding being skeptical about accusations.Regardless of whether we like/ dislike someone,they should be afforded "innocent till proven guilty"and judgment should be suspended until then.
    At the same time,its the Churches duty to ask the person to step aside from a public dealing position,for the interim,so people are assured issues and safety are taken seriously.
    No doubt,this woud be very hard on someone who feels they are wrongfully accused,but it shouldn't be taken as the Church declaring someone as "guilty until proven innocent" but simply as safeties sake.

    Theres many different possibilities:
    Sometimes accused are guilty.
    Othertimes they are maliciously wrongfully accused.
    Other times it is a simple misunderstanding.
    Eg:a person might interpret something innocent like a hug to be a sexual advance.
    Othertimes,a person might feel they have feelings for someone and if their feelings arn't returned then they may respond by making a false accusation.

  8. I've never paid much attention to Fr. Corapi. (He's not my style - I remember Fr. Groeschel and Fr. Dubay - God rest him, blessed man! with fondness from when I was able to get EWTN radio.)

    But I was troubled when I heard this news, less by the accusations,than by what was news to me - that Fr. Corapi had already separated himself (one assumes with permission?) from his religious community. That fact combined with disparity between Fr. Corapi's statements and the statements of his superiors are what I find most (and deeply) disturbing.

    May St. Benedict intercede for all parties in this situation.

  9. I totally agree - it made me sad how some people actually seemed pleased that Father Corapi has made some questionable decisions. I don't like reading about people finding pleasure in someone else's wrongdoings.

  10. I like how you have blogged on the situation with Fr. Corapi. I have enjoyed his preaching for years and his audio set on the Tridiuum is wonderful for preparing to celebrate Easter.

    I'm not big on the nastiness going on out there. It is just terrible and shows how little REAL charity is being practiced.

    Fr. Corapi is, as you mentioned, reacting according to his temperament. He couldn't take this quietly, IMO.

    A good thing I see from this is that many people who were "fans" are connecting with the truth that the message he spread and the person who spread it are not the same thing and that our Faith that was enriched from his preaching is still enriched no matter how his life takes turns and twists.

    My prayers are for our Priests and Bishops-- they are under so much spiritual attack.


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