National Catholic Reporter

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Father Corapi's fans

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Because I am Facebook friends with Deacon Greg Kandra, who among other things is a prolific Catholic blogger, I have been following last weekend's news and reaction to a rather famous priest accused of sexual impropriety by a former female employee.

Except that I had never heard of the priest. OK, that's not entirely true. Once I read that he had a show on EWTN, the name rang a bell, but only because I see it while scrolling through my cable channels.

Apparently, I am in good company. In this blog entry, Kandra writes about two New York monsignors who have the same reaction ("Father Who?") to what some are calling "The Most Important Story of the Catholic Universe."

Corapi sure has an interesting life story--and this was before the allegations (which are, after all, only allegations at this point). As a successful businessman, he lived a fast life in California that included a home in Malibu, a yacht and cocaine. After suffering a mental breakdown and a period of homelessness, he had a spiritual transformation and entered the priesthood. Fame, based on orthodoxy and a strong prolife position, followed. EWTN snatched him up. In 2002, Corapi worked with the FBI to uncover unnecessary heart procedures at a local hospital and received $2.7 million for his role as a whistleblower.

I'm withholding judgment about the allegations against Corapi, although I know that romantic relationships among priests and adult women are not unheard of. Nor is backsliding back into drug addiction.

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Still, what frightens me is the reaction from Corapi's fans. What Kandra calls "the Cult of Corapi" is defending the man at any cost. Comments to blog posts have offered free legal counsel, insist that anyone who questions his innocence is a heretic, even claim he is the only priest with the Truth.

This scares me. We all have our religious celebrities. Liberal Catholics have theirs, too. Turning them into gods is not what the real God intended.

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