Well, I get defensive at first because when something like this happens, I first hear the voices of the enablers and the excusers and I seek to answer them. But now I hear the groaning, the deep groaning of a lot of people who are seriously hurt.
The fact is that Fr. Corapi stood as a light on a hill for many of us. His virile, potent Catholicism stirred his listeners at a time when the Faith seems compromised and infested with namby-pamby nonsense. His conversion story, from millionaire to homeless drug user to Catholic priest, was an inspiration to many. I have heard folks tell of returning to the Church after hearing Fr. Corapi.
So what are these people now to think? Do we indeed heed the words of St. John, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." - 1 John 2:19? Is it really that bad?
And if he's going to renounce his priesthood, malign his bishop, blame everyone for being out to get him, dye his beard, tan his skin, identify himself with a creepy and demonic-looking logo, continue preaching publicly when his bishop has suspended him from that function, market himself like a rock star, discount items on his website to celebrate the anniversary of his ordination the very week he renounces that ordination - if he does all of this in front of God and everybody, then what are we to make of the accusations against him - whatever they are? What are we to make of his conversion story, which has always read like a work of fiction?
Doesn't this throw his whole career into doubt?
Why, yes. Yes it does.
But keep something in mind. Remember, whatever his sins are, this is not the first priest to sin, nor will it be the last. Even if he turns out to have been a fraud and a fake from the beginning, he still spoke the Big Truth about Him while lying about "me me me". You can't do worse than St. Peter denying Christ or St. Paul persecuting and killing Christians. And they are two of the foundations of the Church on earth. Don't forget that. Even if Fr. Corapi is a media whore who's trying to deny his priesthood and is back into drugs and fast cars, he's no worse than Peter or Paul before their total conversions, no worse than we are in the dark corners of our hearts.
Our job, then, is not to make excuses for him. That is not Charity. That is partisanship.
Our job is to pray for him and call him to repentance, as Christ prays for and calls all of us. Do not follow him down this road to absurdity and self-parody.
And don't buy the lie that it's unfair for priests to be suspended from ministry pending the outcome of investigations against them. Remember that even in the secular world, if a fireman, cop, teacher, or corporate executive is accused of something untoward, that person will be suspended by his superiors while the investigation is carried out. Suspension does not imply prejudice or a kangaroo court. Suspension is prudence, plain and simple. If the allegations are untrue, the fault lies with a dishonest accuser, not with an overseer doing his job. And don't buy the lie that Fr. Corapi had been hung in limbo by a flawed canonical process - this investigation has not been dragging on; it's only been a few months at this point. A teacher at my daughter's school was suspended for an entire year pending the outcome of an investigation regarding allegations of sexual contact with a student. The allegations were determined to have been false, and the teacher was reinstated and is back to work. The sin here was the sin of false witness; the process prevailed, the process was not to blame.
Are certain priests or secular folks railroaded and smeared with false accusations? Of course. Is this the case with Fr. Corapi? We don't know, but the problem with him is not what he might have done, the problem is what we all see him doing now.
Anyway, let's continue to pray for him, for Bishop Mulvane, for the accuser, and above all for Fr. Corapi's fans. May this scandal not lead them to doubt the True Faith. We have the treasure in earthen vessels; we all know that. God uses sinners and nothing but sinners in His Church. He will sanctify them if they let Him. But we hardly ever let Him.
And remember ... 'I mean that each of you is saying, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?' (1 Cor. 1:12-13).
We are Christians, not Corapians.