John Corapi shook people’s faith.
The bishops who repeatedly transferred child-abusing priests shook people’s faith.
I tremble to think of it, but I imagine that if I fell into some deep disgrace, that would shake a few people’s faith.
I can’t speak for other people, but I want everyone who knows me to understand that I fall flat on my spiritual face on a pretty regular basis. Don’t look to me for salvation, or even a good example. If you look to me for anything, it should be proof that God’s love is greater than all our sins and weaknesses, that the only thing we have to fear is living by our own understanding rather than His.
Despite the love and forgiveness God has showered on me, I still sin. I will always sin until I go home to Him.
St Paul said it best: “I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.”
That’s one of the greatest saints talking. If he couldn’t manage to live sinlessly, why should I expect that of myself? How can I expect it of anyone else?
I am not asking anyone to “forgive” these failed priests and bishops. I am offering an admonition, a plea, for people to stop confusing them with Christ the Lord.
“Do not put your faith in princes and human beings, who cannot save.” the Psalmist tells us.
Do not worship your spiritual leaders or expect them to be more than the fallen human beings they are. Priests and bishops are our spiritual leaders. They are our teachers. They are men who have consented to be conduits of God’s grace by way of the sacraments. They bring us Jesus in the Eucharist, which makes them precious to us. God can and does reach through them and into us to deliver healing and help.
But they are also made of dust, just like the rest of us. They can and will betray you and hurt you and, yes, betray and dishonor the vows they’ve taken and the trust people place in them. They can do this. And they will. They will, because that is our common human fate as co-inheritors of original sin. Yes, we are also co-inheritors of eternal life in Christ. Yes, we are forgiven this blight on our souls, washed clean of its eternal smear by the blood of Calvary. But so long as we live in this fallen world and eat of its fruits we will be subject to our own fallen natures.
“I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.”
That’s all of us, including these fallen priests and bishops who have betrayed themselves and their own souls along with the great trust that was placed in them. That is why we should never confuse these men with the God they serve.
I try to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church because I know they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. I respect the work that priests do because I know that they, however weak they may be as men, are conduits of grace in the sacraments, and that this grace is freely available to all of us through them. But I do not worship them or expect them to be anything other than the ordinary people they are.
When they fail, I do not doubt Christ because of it for the simple reason that they are not Christ. I know whom I have believed, and He is not them.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me,” Jesus told us.
“Trust in me,” He said.
Not John Corapi. Not any bishop or priest.
Do not forfeit your eternal salvation over the weaknesses of other fallen human beings, no matter how exalted they have become in your eyes. Trust in Jesus and Him alone and no matter how you fail, or how others fail you, you will never lose your way.