Catholic News Service photo
Fr. John Corapi
Catholic News Service photo
Fr. John Corapi
Here is an unsigned editorial titled "Two lessons from the Father Corapi situation," which appears in The Northern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn.

News of Father John Corapi's suspension due to allegations by a former employee and his subsequent decision to leave his public priestly ministry shot through Catholic media circles, leaving an ugly trail of wounds and sin in its wake.

Father Corapi's enormous popularity comes from his many appearances on the Eternal Word Television Network, his compelling conversion story, his conspicuous fidelity to magisterial church teaching, his booming voice and his direct, even blunt speaking style. Without question, God has used his ministry to reach many souls and do great good.

This great good is what makes the fall so terrible. We withhold judgment on the veracity of the allegations. We recognize how damaging a false accusation can be, especially when someone's reputation is so essential. We acknowledge how painful it must be to be suspended without a finding of guilt. But with all that said, we cannot condone as a fitting response his leaving the priesthood, lashing out at unnamed bishops allegedly out to get him, and making disparaging personal remarks about an accuser who has yet to say a word in public or even be publicly identified.

We propose two lessons the faithful can draw from this sad situation. First, while it is a great blessing to have holy clergy, one must always clearly remember that our faith is in God and his church, not in a particular priest, bishop or even pope. Hero worship is a danger for all involved, and it creates a burden too heavy for any of us poor sinners to bear. Good priests need our support, respect and encouragement but not flattery or blind loyalty. They need our prayers more than anything.

Second, we must be vigilant in how we approach the media culture. Many of the facts are still unknown, and some may stay unknown. Despite that, much of the early coverage and commentary jumped to unjustified conclusions about Father Corapi, his accuser, his superiors or his bishop. Media coverage routinely tempts us to draw conclusions beyond the known facts. We should also examine our motives in consuming the coverage. Is some news story useful to truly understanding the situation, or are we just rubbernecking at a car accident? That latter does no good to the many people suffering, not least of them Father Corapi's admirers, who are grappling with these things.

Let's keep all involved in our prayers.