Over at Deacon Greg’s place, the raging, the speculation, the accusing, the snide remarks, the sneering, the hyperventilating, the name-calling, the condescension, the nasty challenges just go on and on and on.
There is this whole “we call you part of an anti-Corapi conspiracy” thing going on there, and in my email, which is sad, and sick, and disheartening, and it must be throwing the devil into spasms of delight.
I popped over to Deacon Greg’s, because someone sent me an email of the comments and told me I was being accused of hiding “supportive statements” made on behalf on Fr. Corapi.
Well that’s crap, but there is a lot of crap in that comments thread. I responded to it a little and then figured I might as well just post my thoughts over here, and let you folks think whatever you want, because that’s how it works.
Do you guys remember when Dan Rather tried to bring down the Bush re-election campaign with his “fake-but-accurate” documents about his Air National Guard service? When he decided to run with the story he gave the White House three hours to respond to fake documents they’d never seen before and then, when they did not explicitly deny that the documents were real, Rather ran with the story that brought his own career down.
That’s called damning someone by demanding that they prove a negative, which can’t be done. And that’s the sort of stuff I see in my email and in various hyperventilating comboxes: “you hate Father Corapi and are trying to destroy him; you’re the devils tool! Prove you’re not!”
Well, I can’t. And I ain’t gonna try. If six years of blogging on my faith and the church and my passion for building vocations, and even those instances where I have posted videos of Fr. John Corapi’s talks aren’t evidence enough for you that I am a devoted Catholic who is — at worst — ambivalent about a bombastic preacher (and anyone who reads me regularly would know that bombast simply is not my preference) then I am not going to try to prove a negative, which is a sucker’s bet.
I have heard Father Corapi preach and he is very good, but he’s not my favorite and I can see where he’s not to everyone’s taste. Some people like John Paul II, some like John XXIII, some like Benedict XVI. The Lord speaks to us through many voices, and attracts us in the way we can best hear Him. Trying to imply something malicious about a blogger for not “knowing” Fr. Corapi in depth — as though there is something “wrong” with any Catholic who is not a deep fan of his — seems uncharitable and extreme to me. I knew nothing at all about Fr. Euteneur, either, until his scandal broke; so what?
I get all kinds of emails from people telling me, “Father Corapi will be known by his fruit…blah, blah, blah.” Okay, well I have to tell you, if his fruit is some of the miserable and ugly stuff I see in my email and in these comboxes — with his accuser (who no one knows) being called a “viper” and a “Jezebel” and a “floozy” and a “devils instrument” and myself or others being referred to as “disgusting” “hateful” “sinful” and “hellbound” simply because we link to Fr. Corapi’s and his employees own words and then ask the fair questions that those words raise, then I call that pretty questionable fruit.
If you love Fr. Corapi, why aren’t you defending him with the sort of charity I am sure he has been preaching all this time, instead of this incredibly toxic suspicion, name-calling and accusing? Why aren’t you kissing it all up to God, trusting that the Holy Spirit will bring all things about to the Glory of God — because that is what he ALWAYS does — and then get back to the deeper work of Lent, from which all of this has pulled us?
Someone said “the devil must be laughing.” Yeah, I agree – I bet he’s laughing his ass off, but not because an accusation has been made against a famous priest. The devil is much more subtle than that.
In the very first post I wrote on this story, I said:
That the accusation is made during Lent seems almost pro-forma; I am already imagining the sorts of lurid headlines we’ll be reading — if not about Corapi, then about someone else — come Holy Week.
Every Lent the devil tries to disrupt Christians with scandal (in 2002, the scandal was tragically all too-true) or with the “discovery” of some ancient artifact (here’s this year’s) that is going to “bring Christian narratives into question” or “destroy the church” or both. Remember a couple years ago when James Cameron said he found Jesus’ sarcophagus, or whatever it was? A few years before that the “Gospel of Judas” was going to take a wrecking ball to Christianity! Remember last year, when at Holy Week, the NY Times declared a “smoking gun” about Pope Benedict that was so off-base that the instant Easter passed we never heard about it, again, and even non-Catholics called it “a witchhunt”?
I think what the devil discovered, in all of those cases — and particularly last year’s — was that he was going about his destructor business all wrong. His ploys were actually serving to unite us, to get us rallied around our pope, our church, our faith and each other.
But this year, he must be very proud. He found a way to take the focus of some Catholics completely off of Lent, or Jesus Christ, and instead get them turned on each other — and it started not with a bang, but with a memo.
“Grrrrr, grrrrrrr, you’re bad because you won’t join me in insisting on Fr. Corapi’s innocence and condemning his accuser! How dare you say “wait and see” that’s judging him guilty! The Bishops are bad, the SOLT Order is bad, EWTN is bad! Only this priest preaches the truth! Grrrrrr, grrrrrr!”
“Grrrr, grrrr, you’re bad because you’re flinging accusations all over the place while you actually know nothing at all – you’re an idolator!”
If I were Satan I’d be laughing and laughing and laughing. And feeling very much in control of things.
But it’s not funny. You folks who are so quick to call others the “tool of Satan,” should think about it. Perhaps, if my saying “wait and see” makes me a devil’s handmaiden then your willingness to hurl vitriol based on your feelings has made you one, too. How have you edified your savior, or your church or for that matter, your beloved priest, by your invective, or your accusations?
We’re halfway through Lent and it seems like some have spent the entire season submerged in the noise and hyperventilation of a story about which very few actually know anything, expending a great deal more energy focusing on a mere man and one’s own feelings, than focusing quietly on the great mystery of our salvation.
All of this seems like the devil’s delight to me, when in truth, as Christians, quietening down and trusting that the Holy Spirit will dispose of this matter to God’s purpose, as he always does, would have been the better response.
Now of course, someone is going to write: “Well, but Anchoress, if you feel that way, why are you still posting things about Father Corapi! You’re just trying to keep your traffic up!”
My traffic was just fine, before the story broke, thanks. And I post on the story because it clearly is important to many. I post on the story because Father John Corapi, a famous priest with a huge following, had his priestly faculties suspended due to an accusation, which is news. And it is news no one would even had known about if a famous priest with a huge following had not slapped an angry announcement on his own website and then had it followed up with a statement by his employee that should probably been best left unposted.
Was the world just supposed to let him sound his yawp and then nod its head? No, he broke a story – people followed it. That’s how it works.
If you don’t like that the story is being talked about, go complain to Father Corapi – it was his choice to announce the thing, and his choice, the tone. He could have just quietly announced he was taking a breather and a retreat, and no one would have thought twice about it.
I can’t think of anyone who has covered himself or herself with glory on this story, from Fr. Corapi on down.
All I’m saying is that maybe all of us should try, for the remainder of Lent, to look at Jesus Christ more, and all of these great and frenzied unknowns a little less. I accept at this point that for some, that will not be possible, because they’re just too deeply enthralled.
Meanwhile, I will continue to pipe up when I have a question about something, and you are free to think what you like about it. That’s how it works, too. But as Christians, it’s supposed to work with a little charity.
It’s sort of like the Sarah Palin cult. I like Palin. In some respects I admire her quite a lot, and I’ve said so. But when she’s made a misstep, or said something I wondered about, I have noted the misstep or questioned her thinking, and then been subject to hellfire and damnation from her fans, because nothing she can say or do is ever anything but perfect, and don’t I realize that she is the only one in America speaking the political truth? That the devil is trying to destroy her and I am adding to it, by not falling in line, and don’t I realize how the press has savaged her and therefore she needs defending?
Well, yes, I realize that many are trying to destroy her — perhaps even the devil — and I probably was the first to describe the press as “savage” toward her, and so I understand the passionate desire to see injustices righted, and the furious defenses of her. I made a rather furious defense of her, myself, not long ago, because I hate to see anyone being bullied.
But that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I think she missteps, and when I think she has, I’ll constructively mention it.
Just so, I will continue to watch this story, and speak as I find. I have expressed sympathy for what Fr. Corapi is facing in being accused. As I wrote at the start:
Having known a couple of clerics who were accused of making improper remarks or advances toward women and ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, I have some sympathy for Fr. Corapi . . .An accusation made against a priest, or a layman is a powerful thing – it is an assassin’s bullet to the psyche and reputation of the man as immediate and thorough as a point-blank bullet to the temple. Because it is so serious, one hopes it is never made lightly. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is not. We simply do not know which is the case here, but even if he is cleared, this will forever be part of Corapi’s biography. Still, let’s hope that this is not true. Better to have a bio with an asterisk than an utter disgrace.
I still think the same way. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with those thoughts.
A former Franciscan shares his thoughts on celebrity priesthoods.