The events of this past weekend have brought about the full range of Catholic responses to Father Corapi’s decision to leave priestly ministry. I’d like to recap my perspective on this sorry tale from its beginning. Back in March, I wrote a blog that ardently defended Father Corapi. Read it here.
In that article, I was highly critical of the bishops for their lack of due process, and for applying the protections of the Dallas Charter to a priest accused of having consensual relations with a grown woman. Many criticized me, stating that priests need to be held to the highest standard.
Married people commit adultery on a vast scale in this age of societal disintegration. They have the opportunity for confession, Eucharist, and pastoral counseling to restore them and and their sacramental vocation. Priests, it seems, are not held to the same standard. That’s dangerous, as the deplorable state of our marriages has everything to do with people thinking that they don’t need to be as holy as their clergy.
What if on the allegation of infidelity the bishops applied the same standard to married couples as they do to priests? Chaos.
In truth, the laity are called to the same degree of holiness as the clergy. At baptism, the prayer over the parents says that they will be the first and best teachers of their children. Yet, there is abundant opportunity for married people to heal from acting out sexually with other adults. Why not our priests?
Quite frankly, I’m not interested in Father Corapi’s, or any other clergy member’s sins with adults. If Father were guilty and unrepentant it would show in time, and his following would begin to fall away. Sins that are not crimes are matters between the penitent and their confessor. and that leads to hero worship.
Many in the Church are understandably angry at the silence of so many bishops around the life issues, over the liturgical anarchy and rebellious catechesis that have gripped the Church by the throat for decades. Then, along comes a priest like a Father Corapi who speaks with authority, passion, and conviction, and people flock to him.
An Oasis in the desert.
They love him for his courage, for daring to do what the majority of priests do not. The message and the messenger become one, and that’s dangerous. When an allegation is made, many will revert to examples of other superstar priests who have had feet of clay, and suggest that history is repeating itself. Thus begins the internecine wars that have reverberated around the blogosphere this weekend.
As I have said in my posts this weekend, I believe that there is great truth in much of what Father Corapi has said about the justice denied him. But as I have also said, I think that he needs to stay and fight, if only by his silence. Walking away will do nothing to end the injustice. Staying will shame the bishops into revising the protocols originally meant to protect children, for cases of adult consensual behavior.
Then, last night, Father’s Superior spoke out about some of the details, and Father countered with a message on his new website. It seems that this will be tried in the media. That’s what happens when justice is denied in normal venues.
There are may places where this will drag on, but not here. On Wednesday night, we will begin a Divine Mercy Novena for Father Corapi. I sincerely wish that he would change his mind and heart on the matter, and take some time on retreat. His supporters are legion, and will fight for him.
I said it in March, and I’ll repeat it now. If we don’t end this denial of due process for our priests, if we do not extend to them the same sacramental restoration that they give the laity, then we deserve empty seminaries. Father Corapi isn’t a hero to me. He never was.
I have always seen him as a good man, and an inspired preacher. However, justice denied can turn good men bitter and angry, and can sap their inspiration. False allegation is one of the ten worst sins, which is why if features prominently in the Ten Commandments.
Join us here on Wednesday to pray for all involved.