Photo credit: Patrick Novecosky
If it’s Friday, there must be something new to read about Father John Corapi! That does seem to be the truth of it, doesn’t it? In a way, it’s a shame. On these Fridays in Lent we should be turned away from the headlines and the news, looking at Christ and his passion. But then again, EWTN has come under a lot of fire recently, so this response is news.
This is not the first time EWTN has felt the need to explain to its viewers why it has suspended the broadcasting of Fr. Corapi’s programming until his case is settled. They put a statement out on March 23, but apparently it was not well-received by some, so they have now clarified further:
The Eternal Word Television Network said its decision to halt programming by the popular speaker Fr. John Corapi followed the lead of legitimate Church authority.
“EWTN has an obligation to uphold the discipline and teachings of the Church,” president Michael Warsaw said on April 1. “In the network’s thirty years of existence, our practice has always been to discontinue airing programs featuring any cleric whose priestly faculties have been suspended, even if temporarily,” Warsaw said.
EWTN has come under intense criticism for its decision.
In his statement, Warsaw said that much of that criticism has been “shrill and uncharitable.” He said that many people have threatened to withhold donations and have made personal remarks attacking the network’s employees.
“When I see messages and web postings that malign the character and intentions of people who have served this mission for years, often at great personal sacrifice, I cannot allow those assertions to stand unanswered,” he said.
Warsaw stressed that it “is simply illogical to assert, as some have, that the very people who have worked personally with Fr. John over the years and who have made certain that he has had a continued presence on EWTN would suddenly and immediately take league with the enemy and turn against him.”
“In this case, Fr. John’s own religious superior has made the determination to place him on administrative leave and feels it best that Fr. John not exercise public ministry at this time,” Warsaw said. “Fr. Corapi’s religious superior obviously believes that this was the prudent and appropriate course of action.”
Warsaw said that although the network does not know the details of the case, “as Catholics, we are obliged to give deference and the benefit of the doubt to the religious superior who does know.”
“Fr. John is not just a face on television or a voice on the radio to those of us here at EWTN. He is a man many of us know personally and admire greatly. That made the decision all the more difficult for us.”
Warsaw also underscored the network’s stance that Fr. Corapi “is absolutely innocent of any and all charges unless proven otherwise by the investigation that is now underway.”
“I have been privileged to know Fr. John for more than a decade. He is a gifted preacher and has done tremendous work leading souls to Christ. That is a fact.”
“Fr. John has asked us to pray for all involved,” Warsaw said. “That is what we are doing. I would also ask our EWTN Family to continue to pray that this matter will be resolved quickly and that Fr. John’s programs can be returned to the airwaves.”
As I wrote a little while back:
Writing letters insisting that EWTN “defend” Fr. Corapi is unrealistic; it is fairly common procedure for institutions of all sorts to take a step back when an investigation of any of its members is ongoing, for the sake of the organization’s own exposure to liability, and (more importantly) its credibility. EWTN is not, suddenly, a “bad Catholic” organization, any more than anyone else who is choosing to “wait and see” is a “bad” Catholic.
Meanwhile, Fr. Corapi’s website has added this memo to his site, but has said nothing about this controversy brewing at EWTN, either way. I wouldn’t presume to speak for him, but I can’t imagine likes seeing his friends at EWTN being treated badly or punished over a matter that they really don’t have much control over.
What kind of fruit is that to bring to bear in Lent?
In related news, given that Fr. Corapi is an evangelist, the pope’s intentions for April are about evangelizing new generations. Let’s hope April is the month all this gets settled.