Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, John Corapi, Baby Bodies in Ireland and Letting the Facts Sift Themselves to the Top


Father John Corapi was just a smidgeon (and a very small smidgeon, at that) this side of Jesus to a lot of people.

I liked himself myself for quite a while. Then, one day, I was watching him on EWTN. He was talking about his escapades from his past and it occurred to me, “He’s not confessing. He’s bragging.” I noticed the way he almost leered when he talked about himself from what he was pretending he thought were his bad old days, and I realized, they weren’t bad old days to him. Not at all.

In short, I realized that this was a man in love with his sins and in love with himself. He was not the great priest he was pretending to be. He was something else, altogether.

I stopped watching him after that. A few months later, when the story broke that he had been credibly accused of all sorts of things, I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen it in his face that night.

I went to a meeting later in the week with a group of devout pro life Catholics. We were planning a pro life event. The talk was all about Father Corapi and the “lies” that were being told about him. The focus was on his accusers and what morally bankrupt people they were.

I listened for a while, then said, “I’m going to wait and see how it turns out.”

I didn’t say anything one way or the other about Father Corapi, just, “… wait and see how it turns out.”

There was a stunned silence and then one lady in particular fell to glaring at me. She glared throughout the meeting, and, so far as I can remember, has never spoken to me since. In fact, she still gets a case of the glares when she sees me.

Despite the silence and the glares, what I said was good advice, born of many years in the public eye and having been lied about over and over again by lying pros.

That was going to be my message about the wild story concerning the bodies of children that were found in Ireland a while back. Don’t believe the things the press is throwing around, and don’t disbelieve them, either. Just … wait and see.

My colleague, Frank Weathers, wrote a sterling post Saturday in which he gave us a few calming facts about that story to juxtapose with the hysteria in the larger press. You can read it here.

I am also going to suggest the same attitude toward the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Sgt Bergdahl was the last American prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan. He was ransomed from captivity in a prisoner trade a few days ago.

He’s being trashed by all sorts of people. I don’t know him or them. I do believe that at least some of the trashing is a tactic in the partisan political wars. I take everything that is said in that context with about 20 pounds of salt. When it involves attacking someone who can’t fight back to score points against one political party by the other political party, I add another 50 pounds of salt to go with it.

These people — and I’m not talking about Sgt Bergdahl — are absolutely ruthless. They’ll destroy anybody to get what they want. Destroying the life and reputation of one soldier to gain a few points would be like snapping a toothpick to them.

It does not matter whether you are talking about the Rs or the Ds. Their only concern is getting and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

A good deal of the press has become aligned — primarily through the interests that own them — with one side of the partisan wars or the other. They’re not trying to inform you. They’re trying to persuade you. And the persuasion is aimed at concentrating power in the hands of one side or the other of this political divide for purposes of making money for those same interests that own the media outlets.

So, my advice about Sergeant Bergdahl is the same advice I would give about the bodies in Ireland, which is based on the same thought I had when John Corapi was accused. Wait and see how it turns out.

I’m not trying to persuade anyone as to whether they should be an R or a D. I’m convinced we need Christians in both parties. What I am saying is don’t be too quick to join the lynch mob for this soldier. He’s a person, not a political opportunity.

I’ve seen cattle get run all over a field by a German Shepherd dog who was just having fun. The dog would send them one way, then the other. The cattle ran and the dog had the time of its life.

Don’t be like those cattle. Stop letting yourself get tossed around by a media that’s mis-using its power. Wait and see how it turns out. Give the facts on this story and all the others like it time to sift themselves to the top.

Don’t let yourself be herded from one outrage to the other by gossip that’s posing as facts, propaganda and sensationalist lies. If you know a news outlet is literally owned by a set of interests, remember that when considering the news they cover.

Trust God, and Him only.

And wait and see what happens when the facts sift themselves to the top.


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  • Manny

    I had the same experience with Fr. Corapi. I really enjoyed him but I did sense a unChristian bragging at times. Still I was surprised what he did. But he was a fine speaker and evangelist. We need more with his abilities.
    What is it Patheos Catholic that more and more bloggers are not accepting comments? I wanted to thank Frank Weathers for that post. It turned the story all around for me and restore a bit of faith. (Perhaps that’s a bad word choice, I didn’t lose my faith but it did restore something and I can’t find the right word.) His comments are turned off and I’m finding more and more of that over here. I don’t regularly frequent blogs that don’t allow for response.

    • hamiltonr

      I think it’s because it takes so much time to monitor the blog comments — and it can get you down, reading some of the things people say — but if they don’t monitor, it heads right down to the gutter, especially on blogs that talk about current issues. So, some people just turn them off. Also, bloggers sometimes turn comments off for a specific post for one reason or another.

      I get flak for moderating comments, but it’s the only way I know to keep Public Catholic from being drug down to the bottom of the bay and still allow discussion. I think discussion is important. It forms community and we all learn from it, including me.

  • hamiltonr

    Thank you Ray. There is a lot of thoughtful analysis in this comment. It is appreciated.

  • hamiltonr

    I’m going to allow this for the purpose of discussion and illustration.

    Labeling Sergeant Bergdahl a traitor and talking about hanging is exactly what I am asking that people avoid. I will not tolerate any other comments that attack Sgt Bergdahl.

    It’s ok to criticize the actions of the president. It is certainly ok to discuss if this was the best way to get our prisoner of war back. I do agree with President Obama when he said that America does not leave its soldiers behind. But methods of freeing our remaining prisoner of war are certainly open for discussion.

    However, Sergeant Bergdahl is not fair game, at least not on this blog.

  • george-a

    Re Fr. Corapi … it was when he started dyeing his beard that gave me the “whut?” experience … he looked just fine with a gray goatee, patrician, even … I think that was not long before his fall from public grace. As far as I know, his actual teaching was always orthodox, though.

    • Madzi

      I, too, became leery of Fr. Corapi after a while…and it was a relatively short while at that. Rebecca, you nailed it with your recognition of the face of a braggart. That’s what caught me up short as well and it was almost frightening, because I’d heard such glowing reviews of Fr. Corapi’s talks. I caught him on EWTN and it was, perhaps, the 3rd time I’d seen him speaking and that’s when it struck me that he was taking pleasure in remembering his past.
      That said, I sort of feel sorry for him because of what his potential promised…and what ultimately he was brought to. And I find myself more and more skeptical all the time, which isn’t always a good thing. I keep waiting “for the other shoe to drop” with many of the men and women I have admired, wondering when they, too, will reveal feet of slippery clay. It’s not pleasant and I don’t want to cross the line to cynicism.

  • hamiltonr

    I really think that is a terrible idea. When the POWs came back from Viet Nam, there was some concern about one of them having worked with the enemy. When he committed suicide, everybody backed off on pursuing that line of reasoning. I’m not so sure a suicide would move people today, they have become so hard-hearted.

    The is the outcome of people being worked up all the time by a press that doesn’t bother to report the news, but that lurches from one mass assault on some hapless soul after another.

    Just let the man alone and, if possible, help him get his life together. Haven’t enough lives been destroyed by 9/11 already without us turning on one of our own?

    • Mary E.

      I respectfully disagree with you. I do not know the circumstances of the POW who committed suicide, but the same tragedy sometimes happens in the civilian world when someone fears being indicted and tried for a crime. It doesn’t stop civilian authorities from pursuing other prosecutions for the same crime. If there is substantial evidence that he deserted, then he should be tried.

      I have not served in the military, but I have had many friends who have served, and still serve. Desertion is one of the most serious offenses in the military code of justice, and everyone who joins the service learns that. It is considered to be a violation of the trust that one service member must have for another. Deserting is not like deciding that you don’t like a job, or you hate your boss, and so you’re going to quit without notice. Not trying him (that is, if there is enough evidence to try him) may be kind-hearted to him, but it is unfair to all those who he served with, and particularly, those who had to go out looking for him. Because they were doing their duty.

      • hamiltonr

        Mary, you’re assuming a lot about Sgt Bergdahl here.

  • hamiltonr

    True. :-)

  • hamiltonr

    Manny, you can’t know that, and this is part of my point. The media has gone at this man without mercy. They are perfectly capable of coordinating anything. That said, why do we need this man’s blood? He’s a pawn in a bit of ruthless politics.

  • hamiltonr

    Well, you get to have your say around here, even when you disagree with the blog author, as you are often crazy and wrong-headed enough to do. :-)

  • hamiltonr

    That’s my point John. Sgt Bergahl is being used to get at the President. The people doing this are too ruthless and amoral themselves to care what the do him — or anyone else, including you, John. If it became useful for them to destroy you, they would. And I have a feeling you would be astonished by how easily people would believe terrible thing about you with no basis.

    Leave Sgt Bergdahl alone. If you want to critique the president, have at it. But the easy way people are ready to jump on the complete destruction of this soldier is downright Pavlovian.

  • hamiltonr

    That’s it Ray. It has so permeated our society that Christians fall in line with it, too.

    “Men and women are treated as objects to be manipulated rather than as persons to be honored. Nihilism is reflected in contemporary culture, for example, in art, music, literature and entertainment. As the result of increasing nihilism, a culture of death is replacing a culture of life.”

  • hamiltonr

    I have a relative by marriage who did the Bataan Death March and then served out the war in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. When he got home, they gave him his back pay and put him on a bus for Kansas (where his family lived.) It turned out he had serious health problems, including malnutrition and pneumonia.

    We were much kinder to the Viet Nam POWS, but it appears we’ve moved it down to the basement with how we’re treating Sgt Bergdahl.

    • AnneG

      From what I understand the reintegration process is longer now than in Viet Nam. They think time to decompress is necessary to allay and prevent PTSD. They are also doing some of the Army’s investigation, probably. The guy who defected to Hamas was in treatment for more than a month, I think two.

      • hamiltonr

        I know two former soldiers, one a Marine who served in Afghanistan, and another a Navy Seal who did Iraq and elsewhere. They both saw combat and were injured. They have long-term problems because of the experiences they had.

    • pagansister

      My Dad served in WWII, but by a quirk of fate, he didn’t see combat even though he was overseas. I think that perhaps we as a country have finally learned that those serving in the military in combat have problems not just physically but mentally, now called PTSD, but in other times different names—shell shock, etc. were used and the thought is that “men” could handle things even though they had been in horrible circumstances. I’m sorry your relative was discharged so quickly without proper medical attention. That is awful. He certainly went through hell. My Dad really never talked about his experiences, nor did my uncle who was wounded and was discharged early. My nephew was in Iraq, 2 tours, and left the military after his time was up. He doesn’t talk about his experiences either, which were awful, seeing things that most of us never will see. He is now gainfully employed and has a wife and 2 children. I’m just glad that we now seem to recognize that combat causes damage to not just the body but mind. At this point we have no idea what Bergdahl went through and as hard as it can be, this needs to be played out slowly and carefully. The politics involved in this is sad.

  • hamiltonr

    This is over the top, but I’m going to allow it anyway. If anyone would like to reply, please try to bring the discussion down to normal decibels.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Near as we can tell from the death certificates, it was 0 children. There is no factual violence or neglect at Taum Home, zero evidence of anything happening other than children dying of common illnesses at a rate LOWER than that of the city in which they lived.

  • FW Ken

    Second that. Good bloggers have something to say, but the more voices heard the better.

    Many years ago, a mailing list I wad on was semi-moderated. Individuals were moderated until the list owner got to know them, them could be given post privileges. I doubt discus could handle that

  • hamiltonr

    You’re just underscoring what I’ve been saying. Sgt Bergdahl is being used as a pawn in a vicious political game.

    Are you capable of talking about the issues here, which revolved around the President’s handling of the situation, without trashing this soldier?

  • hamiltonr

    I know there were a few defectors, some of them quite famous.

  • hamiltonr

    Address the concerns you have about the way he was released Anne. Don’t trash the Sergeant. As for political gain, that may be true. The way Sgt Bergdahl has been attacked seems the same thing, with the same motivations. Both sides of the political spectrum are ruthless.

  • hamiltonr

    Does this mean you don’t wish me well? :-)

    • Iwishyouwell

      You? No, I don’t. I think you’re an appalling person, the perfect example of the kind of arrogance and ego, actually, that led to the abuses perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

      If you don’t want to post a comment, don’t. But don’t post it with your biased editorializing and hints at permission for others to pile on.

      The only thing you’ve done now is prove you have an abusive personality.

  • hamiltonr

    I apologize Anne. I didn’t meant that you had trashed him. I was speaking journalistically, to everyone. That kind of misspeak sometimes happens when I type faster than my brain works. Again, apologies.

    • AnneG

      Thank you. Now I understand what you said. Btw did you read the Michael Hastings article from Rolling Stone on Bowe Bergdahl? His picture is a little different. Also, just because one of us “little, unimportant” people is being used politically does not mean we don’t have to be responsible for our behavior.

      • hamiltonr

        I’m basing this on my experience. When the politicos start using some hapless someone as a way to attack one another, the truth isn’t in them. Attacking Sgt Bergdahl is a cold-blooded method to get at the president. I don’t think it’s possible to believe any of the things being said about him. I’ve seen too many of these deals and been on the receiving end of a few of them. The truth is not important to the people who do these things. They’ll lie when the truth would do them better.

        • AnneG

          Here is a link to the article. Rolling Stone is a left-leaning publication as was Michael Hastings, so none of the hating on Bergdahl for politics. It is worth the read.

          • hamiltonr

            Anne, quite a number of people who are commenting here seem to think this is a left vs right argument, or that somehow or other, treating Sgt Bergdahl with kindness is letting President Obama off the hook — whatever hook that might be.

            I don’t see it that way. There is no need to attack Sgt Bergdahl to raise questions about the process President Obama used to secure his release. Sgt Bergdahl had nothing to do with that.

  • hamiltonr

    I know whereof I speak John; and I’m not referring to a class of people at all. I’m not criticizing. I’m saying it as a fact.

    “You say: “If it became useful for them to destroy you, they would. And I have a feeling you would be astonished by how easily people would believe terrible things about you with no basis.” You criticize an entire class of people, with no justification. “

  • FW Ken

    For the record, the only proper question on the Bergdahl case is whether the president of the United States should have negotiated with a terrorist organization. Well, it’s also a fair question as to whether he should not have obeyed the law and consulted worth Congress.

    I will say is worthwhile to see the Congress act like Congress rather than a adjunct to the administration.

  • hamiltonr

    So far as I know, I don’t have a way of setting this blog to allow comments without moderation for a specific set of commenters. Before we moved to Disqus, I could set it to allow all comments after I had approved someone once. I did that for a while, but it became problematic — in fact other commenters ASKED me to moderate — because of some of the comments that were getting through.

  • hamiltonr

    You just made my day Manny. :-)

  • hamiltonr

    People who’ve been in combat have all sorts of emotions and thoughts. I don’t gainsay any of them. What I’m suggesting is that those of us in the bleachers take a breath and wait and see. We don’t need to judge this Manny. It’s not our charge to judge it. We can, and we should, let the truth sift itself to the top. It will.

  • irena mangone

    Thank you for your sound advice.

  • Cris Kramschuster

    well written – thank you

  • hamiltonr

    I don’t disagree with anything you said Manny. What I object to is the media-driven politically-motivated destruction of one man who was a POW. I have fairly strong feelings about POWs. I think we should cut them a lot of slack. I am aware that a lot of the media assault has been focused on trying to remove the dignity of being a POW from Sgt Bergdahl, but from the photos of him that I’ve seen, and from what little we know, that’s horrible cruelty. If it should turn out that his POW status was some sort of hoax, then I will revise my thinking about that. However, this mass hate-off on the man, which I repeat is being generated in the most callous way possible for politics, is a terrible thing.

    • Manny

      OK, but the media just followed the story and the public reaction. My impression is that the public reaction drove the story this time, not the other way around. Couple that with the strange behavior of Bergdahl’s father speaking arabic with Pres Obama and this story was a kettle waiting to explode.

  • hamiltonr

    I dunno. I think she’s had a varied policy. As for being able to selectively allow specific people to post without moderation, it’s not possible that I know of.

  • Barbara Mathews

    Here is an article from Time magazine. And even though those guys were with him in Afghanistan, they didn’t like him. If someone doesn’t like you, they will say negative things about you. If it gets them some attention, all the better.

  • Cbalducc

    If John Corapi, whether he is a priest or not, was really concerned about his supporters, he ought to go public, tell them the truth and not leave them twisting in the wind. It bothers me that some people seem to have gone into schism or heresy over him. At the least, a public statement from Corapi would give these folks some closure. But if he doesn’t, the people who have put so much faith in him need to move on. Corapi, like all sinners, needs our prayers.