HE > I

I have been quoting 1 Peter 5: 8-9 these days, and I believe for good reason. Repetita iuvant:

“Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”

From The Catholic Herald, diocesan paper of the Diocese of Arlington comes this by Mary Beth Bonacci with my emphases and comments.

Reflections on Catholic ‘celebrity’
Mary Beth Bonacci
7/13/11

In the past month, two rather high-profile priests have been in the news over allegations of misconduct. [Two?  I can think of Corapi...] That follows a year in which at least three others have left active ministry in the midst of scandal. And going back another year, I can think of several more.

Is it just me, or does anyone else get the impression that Satan is picking off priests like clay pigeons at target practice?

Each case is unique, of course. Some have admitted to wrongdoing, while others have steadfastly maintained their innocence. Some have cooperated with investigations, and others have not. Some have been exonerated and resumed active ministry, while others “resigned” from their ministry and even the priesthood.

What they all have in common is that these “high profile” priests have a lot of followers. (A “fan base,” as one such priest’s media company referred to them.) And thus their situations — whether they are rightly or wrongly accused — “scandalize” the faithful and risk driving them away from the Church. That is exactly what would motivate the Evil One to incite it all in the first place[And The Enemy has had a lot of help, it seems, from human agents.]

[...]

Some men brought woes on themselves.  I am still sad and sick to heart about Corapi.  I confess that I am now also not a little angry at him. May God have mercy on him.

On the other hand, there are some who have been dreadfully attacked and falsely accused of all manner of things.  I know a few.

In all these cases – self-inflicted or enemy-inflicted – I remember the the fate of the soldier who claimed to have struck down Saul and then ran vaunting to David.

No matter what the circumstances of the fall, the the fate of those who strike at the Lord’s anointed will not be pretty.

The anointed of the Lord may be flawed but they are the Lord’s anointed.

But I digress.

Bonacci follows in her article with some comments about being well-known and keeping the focus on Christ, Christ and his Church.

Perhaps as a counterbalance to 1 Peter 5: 8-9 there is one of my favorites found in John 3:30:

Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui.  He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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16 Responses to HE > I

  1. cameloligist says:

    “[Two? I can think of Corapi...]”
    The other one is probably Fr. Kit Cunningham in England.

  2. jarhead462 says:

    cameloligist: I was thinking the same- horrible story, that.

    Semper Fi!

  3. Ralph says:

    My heart is broken over Corapi. (What do we call him now? Mr Corapi?) I look at a man with such gifts that can be such a service for the good who seems to be caught into the snare of the evil one. I really do pray that he can escape.
    I recall a priest I saw on televison who warned all priests to take time to guard their own soul. He said that priests are so worried about keeping the devil away from the flock that they lead, that they often fail to watch out for themselves.
    I’ll keep praying for you Father.

  4. avecrux says:

    #2 may be Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, which also made me very sad.

  5. Panterina says:

    @Ralph:
    “Father”. Always. You know, because of Mechizedek-priest-for-ever and then some. Especially if you run into him, in person or via blogs. Let it be a reminder for him. Let’s pray for him!

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    “Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui” would be my motto on my coat of arms if I were Bishop (which probably won’t happen now as I have 5 kids and have been married for 10 years.)

    I will pray for Fr. Z and for all priests, that the devil won’t pick off another of the Lord’s anointed.

  7. the_ox says:

    Something else to consider is the element of Catholic ‘celebrity’ itself. The devil is wicked and cunning – but also more intelligent and patient than we may all believe. I believe he plots his moves wisely and the ‘cult of personality’ that has arisen within the Church does not strengthen it. Whether it is people who have favorite bishops, priests and other catholic personalities- this type of focus on personality only weakens the church to these attacks. Yes pray, but of course the antidote may be following the church rather than your favorite preachers and personalities. Similarly – be watchful about accepting Marian apparitions until they have been approved. The devil mixes a small amount of evil with a large portion of what seems to be truth.

  8. TravelerWithChrist says:

    My thought – satan’s picking off those fighting spiritual warfare – Fr Euteneuer, Fr Corapi, Intercessors of the Lamb,… there’s probably more. I’m trying to guess who else is a somewhat public figure (religious or priest) who might be next on satan’s list so I can beef up the prayers.

    Yes, Fr. Z, our family always prays for you each evening by name. You also have a special calling.

  9. MichaelJ says:

    the_ox,
    to your list of “bishops, priests and other catholic personalities”, I would add “Popes”

  10. Mike says:

    I remember when Archbishop Hickey, of DC, was made a Cardinal, and at the end of his first Mass as Cardinal, the rector of the National Shrine thanked him for “bringing the red hat to Washington”. The remark was made with good intentions, but Hickey, in a nano second, quoted this line from St. John the Baptist.

    “Celebrity Priest” should be an oxymoron only found in novels.

  11. Hidden One says:

    Amare nesciri.

  12. Brian says:

    J. Glenn Murray, SJ, was recently removed from ministry. He’s quit popular on the other end of the spectrum.

  13. moon1234 says:

    It is hard to know what or where to turn. Fr. Corapi spoke well and was very charismatic, yet his calling was NOT to a private life of contemplative prayer. I have to admit that the process that he went through gave me great pause. For one to not be able to confront his accuser nor be able to see the evidence against him, it seems very dictatorial. I can sympathize with Fr. Corapi.

    On the other hand, Fr. Corapi was very self motivated. From what has been said from people inside his order, he gave very little money to them and essentially was a member in name only. This is not the way a priest behaves.

    In some ways I wonder what would have happened to Archbishop Fulton Sheen had he been alive today. Would a simple accusation remove him from all public ministry? Would he go quietly to a remote far away place never to be heard from again?

    We expect our Church to honor the truth, not to hide it and demand blind obedience. On many boards that is exactly what I see many suggest. The accused should just be quite and do as he is told, even if that is unfair. Many people point to the way Christ submitted on the cross. People quickly dismiss when Christ went into the temple and overturned the tables and threw out the merchants in his Father’s house.

    The act of submitting to an injustice would need to be for the greater good. I can think of no greater good, in Fr. Corapi’s situation, that is being served by him being suspended indefinitely and left out to dry. I don’t necessarily agree with the direction he is taking, but his outspokenness has shown a light on an area where I think the Church jurice prudence needs some serious attention.

    In the end I have to hope that Fr. Corapi somehow winds up in a similar situation to Fr. Malachi Martin. Fr. Martin objected to VII and asked to be released from his vows of poverty. The Pope granted this, but retained his vow of celibacy. Fr. Malachi went on to expose much corruption within the Church. He pointed out the sexual abuse in the United States through his books, decades before the Church admitted to it.

    Hopefully some good can still come from these unfortunate situations. What is the old saying “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer?”

  14. jflare says:

    chonak,
    If I may ask: How do we know that the evidence SOLT has collected has creedence?

    I hate to say it, but from an “outsider’s” viewpoint, I can’t say that we have more reason to believe SOLT or their witnesses than we do Corapi. I think this case will have lots of devilish details that will be, well, devilish. Yes, the evidence they’ve said they had will be difficult to dispute, but that doesn’t mean much yet. How do we know for sure that those e-mails came from Corapi, himself, or that the witnesses aren’t fibbing a little?
    ..And, sad to say..how do we know that the bishop or someone else involved aren’t presenting the truth as they think they know it, but not the whole truth?

    By the time we’re done, I think both Corapi and SOLT will have many questions to answer.

  15. jflare says:

    ouch.
    Just saw a video with Corapi wearing a Harley Davidson jacket and looking a bit..shifty. If he’s innocent..what the dickens brought THIS on????
    Ray Stevens song about the Shriner becoming a Hell’s Angel wasn’t supposed to be real!
    This doesn’t look good…..

  16. I find several things perplexing, reading through comments at the “Black Sheep Dog” website, BSD Facebook page, Fr. Corapi’s original FB page (which is supposedly being shut down on July 26, along with his original website where the fire sale has been going on):

    1) People have been exclaiming that Fr. Corapi is innocent until proven guilty all the while presuming some sort of moral or ethical breach on the part of Bishop Mulvey or the SOLT (typically through drawing conclusions in the absence of objective facts and packed with subjectivism). In other words, they are willing to attack other clerics in defense of their “celebrity”. It is always easier to presume that the party you do not know as well, is on the attack. Do any of us really “know” Father Corapi?

    2) Catholics behaving like pagans who do not know Christ on both sides of the issue with profanity, obscenity, and sexually explicit expressions aimed at Corapi, at Bishop Mulvey, and at each other.

    Discernment of spirits needs to focus on a particular event. If we look at the many conversions and lives touched through Father Corapi’s preaching, we see authentic good fruits. These can only be attributed to God’s grace. Cooperating with God’s grace, using his skills as a preacher, people were led to reform their lives and were won to Christ.

    But, can we say that those conversions were complete? On the basis of what is seen in discussions online, many of his most ardent defenders make statements which reveal a lack of understanding in certain areas of the catechism.

    “Fruits” must be examined in relation to a particular event. What fruits have we seen since Fr. Corapi has launched the Black Sheep Dog website? Answer: The “3 D’s”: Division/Disunity, Defiance/Disobedience, and Disorder. These, my friends, are not fruits of the Holy Spirit. We cannot know if Corapi’s actions are the result of unchecked human fallen nature, or the diabolical. However, suffice it to say that Satan’s hand is all over the discord we see now. This is a fruit and it’s not coming from the right tree.

    Detraction has exceptions and if a church authorities believe that someone is sowing discord by their words and actions, they may be justified in releasing information to offer clarity. If they said the man was sexting, for example, it is sufficient if one party turned over proof in the form of their own phone records. In the case of concubinage, it could be that the person in question has proof of residence over a period of time. Even if such a person herself committed moral faults, and was a drunk, or is “after her money”, it does not negate the questions surrounding his behavior. This is what came to mind as I read the SOLT’s July 5th statement is that the investigative committee had concrete evidence with regards to those things listed. Judgment of such things could be pretty much at face value.

    Here is a quote from the 1962 “New Catholic Encyclopedia” from a page on detraction, explaining exceptions. Sheehan obviously thought the discord taking place in high volume on the web met the conditions herein. Others may say that they did not. Moral theologians will likely debate it in years to come. God will ultimately judge these actions.

    Exceptions. The virtue of veracity forbids lying at all times, but it does not demand that a person reveal the truth at all times. There are occasions when a person is obliged in conscience to hide the truth. On the other hand, a person may sometimes licitly reveal the truth, even though this may result in harm to another’s reputation. Examples of this occur when there is a conflict between the rights of the person about whom something discreditable is known and moral rights of equal or greater urgency. Thus, when the continued ignorance of a blackening truth will cause harm to the common good, to an innocent third party, to the one about whom the truth is known, or to the one who knows the truth, the facts need not be kept secret. For example, one who knows that an innocent person will be sent to prison may licitly reveal the identity of the true criminal. For the manifestation of a blackening truth to be licit, it must be a necessary means to avoid harm, and the manifestation must be made with as little injury to the person’s reputation as possible.