Phil Lawler summarizes: Like the late Father Marcial Maciel, the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ, John Corapi has worked for years as a celebrity priest: encouraging a cult of personality, set his own agenda, raising large sums of money that he spent at his own discretion, and—most dangerous of all—accountable to no one. It was a formula for disaster, and now the disaster has occurred. Again.
What a mess! John Corapi–the Black Sheepdog–turns out to be very black indeed. Go here to read the press release by the leader of his religious order. Turns out the guy has a million buck’s worth of property in his name, has been living with a prostitute, has been doing drugs, has cars, motorboats, motorcycles etc. When ordered to give it all up and return to his order’s mother house and be disciplined he resigned from the religious order.
I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I was prepared to do so for John Corapi as well. It now turns out that he has been obstructive, disobedient, immoral, corrupt and causing just about the biggest scandal to the church possible.
I’ve been a Christian my whole life and I’ve seen so many pastors and priests crash and burn, and so many of them are the ones who were the most charming, the most ‘successful’ the most charismatic and wonderful. The higher they fly the harder they fall, and the best advice I can give to anyone who thinks a particular priest is wonderful is, “If a priest is too good to be true, Guess what?… he’s too good to be true.”
I have some experience as a priest and I have a bit of experience on the ‘celebrity circuit’ if a few appearances on EWTN and speaking at conference qualifies me. I can tell you it feels real nice to be treated like a celebrity. They pay your air fare and take you to dinner and ask you to sign their books. They wait in line just for a few moments to talk with you. I’m happy to do it because, through these ministries people are helped.
However, I don’t believe any of the hype. It’s not real, and the crowds who want to idolize you are not real. They’re taking a day trip from reality and prefer to indulge their idol making than to face the reality of God and themselves and their real needs. Instead they project all their hopes and ideals and faith and desire outward on this celebrity priest or speaker. OK, maybe he really did help them and really did say inspiring things. That’s good and we don’t dismiss the good God can accomplish through a broken vessel.
But to fall into the trap of either creating a celebrity priest or to fall into the trap of believing the hype is a huge mistake. A friend of mine smelled a rat about John Corapi when he said he “didn’t celebrate the sacraments much.” She wondered what on earth kind of priest he was if the sacraments mattered so little to him.
Well, now we know and may the good Lord deliver us.