Renowned TV priest Father John Corapi has just announced that he is leaving the public ministry of the priesthood in the wake of a scandal involving allegations that he — in the summarizing words of a Catholic News Agency account — “took part in sexual encounters with several adult women and engaged in habitual drug use.” Father Corapi continues to assert his innocence:
I will not try to fight this irrational and unjust situation for the simple reason that I don’t want to be placed in an adversarial posture against the Church. For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep. Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that.
I can’t do what I can’t do. I can only do what I can do. I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep — this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world.
Disclosure: I personally have never been a fan of Father Corapi; I dislike his preaching style, which involves far too much macho chest-thumping for my taste. It comes across almost as a programmatic response to the criticism frequently leveled at today’s Christianity, i.e., that it is too effeminate and needs to do more to attract manly men (or more precisely, I would contend, men who are rather insecure in their own masculinity). But Christianity is a large house, and contains the now-proverbial many mansions; and I know of people who have come to a greater faith in and understanding of the Gospel through Father Corapi’s work. I hope and pray that the positive work he is doing will continue, and even possibly become more effective, now that he is in a different relationship to the institutional Catholic Church — for which, I think, his love is quite genuine.
Whether the allegations are true or not — an issue on which I have absolutely zero knowledge, nor even an educated guess — he is now at a crossroads: He can move in the direction of love and forgiveness, or in the direction of bitterness and recrimination. We’ve all, most of us in much less public ways, been in this situation. Pray for him, that he will make the right choice and make good use of his talents in the years to come.