Archive for June 28th, 2011

Or: What is a Scandal Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Or: “Now Let Me Do  Some ‘Splainin'”…

Longtime readers of Caelum et Terra are probably scratching their heads, wondering about the direction this site has gone in the last week and a half, as I have devoted several posts to the ongoing Corapi saga. And the many new readers, who found me by seeking information and opinions on Mr Corapi, probably need to know that this sort of thing is unprecedented here. Whole church scandals have come and gone with nary a mention in these parts. Indeed, I think I have only mentioned the abuse scandal once or twice in the entire history of the CT blog.

And I have only criticized one other priest by name that I can think of (Fr Robert Sirico).

In fact, I really do not pay much attention to the doings of the Latin rite, aside from the occasional papal pronouncement. Indeed, I sometimes have not even heard of a priest until his fall is in the headlines. I knew of Fr Maciel, of course, and I once met Fr Ken Roberts (of whom I had a very bad feeling). But I had known nothing of Fr Enteneuer, or of the wonderfully named Fr Cutie, or of Fr McGuire.

So what gives?

Well, for starters I had long known of Fr Corapi, and I had long been skeptical. But as I had nothing more to go on than intuition, I kept my mouth shut when people would rave about him.

I have a long history of being a little ahead of the curve on religious shenanigans, from Mike Warnke, when I was a young Jesus Freak, to the Bakkers, to Jimmy Swaggart. (Once a friend tried to cast out a “critical spirit” out of  me for my smart aleck remarks about televangelists).

I don’t know if I have the charismatic gift of discernment or just a well-developed bullshitometer.

When I first heard about Fr Corapi I was open; after all he looked like some sort of monk in his habit and bushy beard (long since set aside for clericals and a goatee).

But something was amiss. His story just never rang true.

Questions about his military record are old news, and the claim that every member of his Special Forces class died in Vietnam seemed a stretch, but what I wondered about was the other claims. He said that before his conversion he had an oceanfront home, drove a Ferrari, and owned a yacht. If that was true he was not just affluent: he was filthy rich. He says that because of his drug abuse he lost it all and was homeless for three years.

Now, money does not buy happiness, but it sure makes a nice cushion for the effects of drug addiction. If you are a multimillionaire- and I would guess that would be the case if he indeed owned all he claimed- you can afford a thousand dollar a day habit, no problem.

Keith Richards never ended up on the streets.

And if you are rich, if things get really bad you just check into a posh rehab center for a month or two.

Let me hasten to add that I never cared much whether he was guilty of the charges of sexual misconduct at all. My own life more resembles Corapi’s than not, only without all the money. And I tried religious life. But after a bit I realized that I was not cut out for celibacy.

I have long thought that if I had not been given this grace I would have inevitably wound up with woman trouble, and I am not too hard on those who succumb to the loveliest of temptations.

Of course vows, whether religious or marital, complicate things, and make the sin worse than mere fornication, which of course in itself can wreak havoc in the lives ensnared in it.

But still, sins of weakness are not as grave as sins of malice or of pride. I was more concerned with his mercenary ways, charging top dollar for his appearances and for his DVDs. Apparently that habit he used to wear did not mean he was a vowed religious; he kept the multimillion dollar settlement he won in suing a physician, and he does not live with his community, but on a ranch in Montana, with bodyguards, a personal trainer, and a Harley.

Not in itself sinful, but not too apostolic, either.

But when I heard of the allegations I sat up and took notice, hoping that perhaps they would lead to some welcome scrutiny of Corapi’s tales.

And that is all I hope for; that the truth will out.

For as long as I remember, three things have consumed me, aside from my battle with the passions: the love of beauty, the desire for truth, and the thirst for justice.

Everything I have written or linked to  here can be traced to these three great loves.

In the case of Corapi, my interest stems from the second of these. No, not cosmic or theological Truth. I speak more of the everyday and simple kind: people simply should say what is true. They should not embellish or exaggerate. Just tell the truth.

Of course The Black Superdog has hinted that he will expand his repertoire to include the political. And from what I have seen of his politics, if he makes good on this threat no doubt the third great passion, the thirst for justice, will kick in.

But we will burn that bridge when he crosses it.

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