It is about time I got around to writing something Catholic in this purportedly Catholic blog...
These past few weeks two big sex scandals have run their course. One is quite well known. The other; not so much. I am talking about shameful fall of full-time politician Anthony Weiner and the dis-robing of the very fiery and well-loved priest, John Corapi. Both men have been taken down by scandal. Although the truth behind the scandal is anything but certain in the case of the latter.
While Weiner in his resignation video decries the damage he caused himself, Corapi (in honor of his decision to not be recognized as a priest any longer I forgo his former title of "Father") chooses to walk away from the scandal out of respect for the hierarchy of the Church. Weiner exhibits all the signs of someone locked in vicious cycle of uncontrollable behavior mixed with dangerously high levels of narcissism. Corapi is, by his own personal testimony, a former addict: someone who has fought his personal demons in their most corrosive forms: sex, drugs, and money. He fought them and I believe him when he says he beat them.
Now I am by my own admission a recovering sexual behavior addict. This does not make me an expert but by bearing the scar of this most heinous of sins, I know my own when I see them. You do not have to trust my instincts. Look at the facts. Most people who suffer from unhealthy sexual behaviors have three things in common:
3) Spiritual with a well-defined value system.
Anyone who hears Corapi speak knows he has these traits in spades. He is an extremely passionate and compassionate man. He has as many degrees as I have appendages. If he was never held within the Satanic thrall, then he would have been extremely lucky. If he was lying about anything, it would be his triumph over these glamours. Still, I believe he had the profound experiences he claims and he reached a state of mastery over his internal darkness.
On the other hand, one could argue that, at one point at least, Anthony Weiner may have exhibited these traits. I really feel there is something more going on with this one. In the many ways he so casually resorted to outrageous lies to create political cover and quickly resorted to contemptuous slander to protect what little honor he had left, I would say that this man never really had any value system or principle beyond the sickly facade meant as cover for a life of virtual pedophiliac leering.
But Weiner is a politician and we as a nation have really lost all faith in our public servants. We truly hold them to such low standards that during one MSNBC show, it became a topic of argument about whether Democrats needed to have any standards at all.
Meanwhile in the world of popular Catholic apologetics and punditry, a number of people (ie, The Anchoress and Mark Shea two people who I admire and trust) have confused disgust at the appearance of scandal with righteousness.
Despite the great differences in how Corapi and Weiner handle their given situations, in the eyes of too many bloggers these personages are virtually interchangeable.
These bloggers are also forgetting a really important fact:
Some saints have been known to be less than patient in waiting for those who would play the Church's own administrative processes against them. Case in point: the Carmelite Saint Teresa was denied permission by her order to create a new convent on the basis that they were endlessly awaiting approval from Rome. What did she do? She founded the convent anyway. Because she was responding to a call from God. Permission from Rome was eventually granted but only after construction was already completed. Remember her confrere St. John of the Cross was himself an escapee from a Carmelite jail. Like Corapi, none of these people played the victim, though their treatment was an outward sign of deep institutional disorder.
And what did Corapi rail against the most in his life as a priest? That's right, the deeply institutional disorders that have beset the Church in America and elsewhere. Is it possible that Corapi left the priesthood not because he is guilty but because he is innocent and wants to follow God's call?
Also for generations now, women have been raised to think that their true power lies in their sensuality and appearance. In addition to this, females are increasingly shallow and will offer more and more terrible revenge for ever more petty perceived offenses. In my travels around the country, I have personally seen a congregation go after a priest with a phony sex scandal because he was not their brand of Catholic. The priest, though innocent, was dismissed by the bishop.
We live in a country where fear of litigation means teachers fear to touch students who get unruly and violent. That same political timidity is starting to infect our Church. Nowadays what teacher or priest or caretaker cannot be destroyed by the mere semblance of scandal? Do not judge too harshly, folks, we live in dangerous times when it comes to being openly virtuous. It is easier to be openly gay than openly pro-self-control.
The world out there is a minefield designed to trap the good men who serve as the most worthy of trophies. Every day is a chess match to do one's job while still somehow retaining one's dignity. As Corapi was one who made himself a lightning rod for these same forces of societal decay, he was bound to set off some sparks at one time or another.
Really. Ignoring the simple political facts behind his life is silly. Of course politics are involved.
This blog is written mostly tongue-in-cheek where I portray myself as the villain in opposition to the "good" forces of the world (you know: contraception, social engineering, environmentalism, tolerance), but there is a lot more to this than mere schtick, if you get it (and most probably do not).
I believe Johnathan Corapi is very likely telling the truth. There is nothing nefarious nor selfish about his desire to take the route he has. Nor is his inaugural video melodramatic and full of self-pity as some critics say. These are easy assumptions based on unfounded accusations.
He is not on drugs. He is not calling for pitchforks against the unknown female who brought unknown charges against him. He is very intelligent and, like Saint Teresa, he understands there is no service to God to be done in simply waiting out the rest of his life while someone uses procedural processes to keep a priest who believes in limbo in just such a state until his lifeblood and ministry wither away with years of indecision. (Especially if he is innocent.) And like Saint Teresa, he is A) innocent until proven guilty and B) Right as long as Rome is on his side.