Tom O'Toole
Corapi corrupted part VI: stepping up to the "Brad-minded" Lutheran "Ashley-bashing"
By Tom O'Toole
August 2, 2011

Reprinted on Spero News.

    I am "anonymous" from 7-10-11.

    Your response was well written but singularly focused. As with attacking Father Corapi, you spent all of your efforts belittling and attacking Martin Luther. Would not your efforts be more beneficial (and Christian) if they were to espouse the purity of Roman Catholic doctrine? I am hard pressed to remember John Paul II spending any time at all on the attack. He didn't undermine Luther, he simply preached Catholic dogma. You should do the same.

    In your one-sided response, you never addressed the restriction and clarification of indulgence time frames set forth by Pope Innocent III or the "donation for indulgence" scam of Pope Leo X. And you certainly side stepped, with obvious precision, the entire cover up of the child sex abuse scandals — which included diversions perpetrated by John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

    Luther never indicated he was perfect, only the Popes do that when they speak on faith and morals. Whatever happened to all of those babies in Limbo? Was that just a temporary holding cell for a few thousand years?

    Tom, you can keep "fighting" but you ought to stop and reflect on what your true Christian responsibility is. Yes, Martin Luther, had he been caught, would have been burned at the stake under direct order of the reigning Pope, but it serves no purpose to hash over how many people have died under various Popes (or would have died if caught). Yet it does serve a purpose to examine the good works of those Christians who bring souls to the Lord. Father Corapi has helped many, as has Martin Luther. I am not comparing Father Corapi to anyone, that's not my responsibility. I am just pointing out the hypocrisy of attacking Corapi, or Luther, while blatantly side stepping the many papal abuses, nazi [sic] connections (Pius XII), and child molestations (which are still being adjudicated world-wide). You can take me to school if you wish but, first, step up to the blackboard and jot down your own denominational transgressions. — Brad Ashley

    Oh, how I wish you were hot or cold. But because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth. — Rev. 3:16

John Corapi and Martin Luther

Hi Brad,

I'm glad to see you step out of the "anonymous" shadow, for whether you speak in the spirit of ecumenism or the "fight" for Truth or both (which, in deference to most modern-day Christians, is possible) I'm sure you'll agree that any discussion worth having is worth attaching your name to. While you accurately call my defense "one-sided" and "singularly focused" (for my Church has always taught that two opposing doctrines cannot both be True) thankfully (at least to the vast majority of Internet readers, who prefer gossip and rumors to actual facts) the same cannot be said of your magnificent beneficent Christian response, for the many good points and questions you raise are either contradicted by a simple googling of my work/and or your subject, or by your own words somewhere down the page. Shall we begin?

First, you said I "side-stepped" the Catholic sex abuse scandals and their cover-up: indeed ironic since the Corapi case, in which you criticize my "belittling" of Corapi, is itself an "alleged" case of sex abuse! Of course, I was also criticized for jumping the gun (and saying the bishops were not acting quickly enough) on the Fr. Euteneuer case, and yet it was my writing that not only forced Euteneuer into his first (if incomplete) public admission of guilt, but bought peace of mind to (and thanks from) his victims that justice was at least beginning to be served. And yet, Brad, as heinous and horrible as we agree this crime is, it is simply incorrect to call it a Catholic or even "child" sexual abuse problem. Even Newsweek, an obviously liberal publication that along with the rest took well-deserved pot shots at the criminal clergy when the scandal broke, admitted the percentage of priest abusers is comparable with those of other denominations, and that less than a quarter of those abused were actually children, for a far larger percentage were adolescents or adults. And, as far as the issue of "the purity of Catholic doctrine" goes, surely even an ill-informed Lutheran can't really believe the Catholic Church ever taught that sex abuse was "okay."

But if these misstatements of yours might simply be due to a lack of research, your other seemingly-at-odds accusations appear to both be simply Protestant prejudice against Catholics. First, you say I should be more like [Blessed] John Paul II who "simply preached Catholic dogma" and rarely spent "time on the attack." I agree I should be more like him...but then in the next paragraph you accuse the "perpetrating" pope of not fighting the issue, if not an outright cover-up! Yes, there was a time that many in the Church, lacking an official Catholic policy and thus following the accepted psychology of the day, believed a sex abuser could be "reformed" and put back into the same spot in society, but that is no longer true. And if you actually read the words of John Paul II (and Benedict) some day, you'll find these two to be true prophets, preaching mercy to those who sincerely seek peace, but judgment to all the self-righteous, Catholic or otherwise.

Brad, I can see how the issues of indulgences or limbo could be confusing to those on the outside, but even a glimpse beyond the typical secular textbook explanation into an actual Catholic source should clear this up. Yes, I already agreed (I side-stepped papal transgressions? Did you think calling Pope John XII "The Christian Caligula" a compliment?) that there were abuses of the doctrine of indulgences, especially around the time of Luther, but that is what they were — abuses. Leo X, of "Let us enjoy the papacy, since God has given it to us" fame, was raising money for the building of St. Peters (not to mention his constant partying) at that time, and donations (or "almsgiving") were a popular suggestion for penance back then. But as lacking of heroic virtue as Leo was, he never said a donation to the Church could forgive sins, let alone get a soul into heaven.

It is also important to remember that a pope is not infallible when he's drinking at a party or even when he is preaching from the pulpit, but only when he's speaking "ex cathedra" from the "Chair" of Peter. And when speaking from "the Chair," Leo said in the bull Exsurge Domine, "indulgences do not avail those who really gain them for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of God's justice," only confession with a real contrition accomplishes that. A slightly different scenario prevails with "Limbo"; not only did my patron saints, Thomas Aquinas (who favored limbo) and Augustine (who thought unbaptized babies went to a section of hell without punishment, a view Dante later popularized) disagree on the subject, but so did the popes, and with nothing definite in scripture or tradition on this subject, no official Catholic doctrine on what happens to the unbaptized ever emerged from "the Chair," other than to say the Church believes in both the need for baptism to obtain salvation, and in God's mercy for those who, through no fault of their own, could not obtain the sacrament (see CCC 1257-1261).

But if the historic half-truths Protestants have surrounded indulgences or limbo with have shrouded your understanding on these subjects, there can be no sympathy with the outright lies that labeled Pius XII a Nazi sympathizer. Up until the early '60s, no one doubted Pius' efforts during the war, but a play called "The Deputy" by German Rolf Hochhuth got the uninformed believing Pius worked for Hitler as if it were gospel. From the early '30s (in 1935, in a speech to 250,000 in Lourdes, then Cardinal Pacelli condemned the Nazis as "in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel," and in their Christmas editorial of 1941, the New York Times called Pius "the only ruler left in Europe who dares to raise his voice") until the wars end, Pius fought the Nazis tirelessly and heroically.

Early on, Pius obtained visas for thousands of Jews (often under assumed names) and when that ceased to work, he personally hid between five and ten thousand Jews, including up to seven thousand in Vatican City alone. Uninformed critics claim Pius ceased to speak out in the later stages of the war, and while his condemnations of the Nazis were less frequent, he now had thousands of Jews living both in St. Peters and his summer home, and he had to think of their welfare as well. Perhaps the unthinking Monday morning quarterback can say Pius should have kept ripping Hitler despite the hundreds of Jews hidden in his house, but after the Dutch bishops spoke out against Adolf in 1942, only to have their homes bombed and nearly every occupant executed, neither Pius nor the remaining Jewish authorities thought this wise considering all those he was sheltering. Indeed, the documentation of Pius' wartime heroism is so overwhelming that to still believe this pope a Nazi sympathizer is to classify yourself not as a serious seeker of truth but with the kooks who think The DiVinci Code is a Catholic historical document.

But all these inaccurate attacks notwithstanding, your protest comes down to one item. Did Our Lord (in Matthew 16:18-19) entrust with infallibility (in those narrow official circumstances dealing with faith and morals) the final decision-making to Peter and his successors or not? If so, being a Catholic requires an obedience (and humility) that Protestantism (where everyone is their own "pope" concerning the final decision regarding what to believe) does not. And in the end, this obedience is what Corapi and Luther (and all other reformers) could not stand. It starts out with the old teenage dodge of "I did something wrong? Well, what about him!," matures into the rock-star thinking that he can do no wrong, and ends with the man believing that he is above God, proclaiming "I will not serve." But because Luther and the other reformers would not serve, the faith is no longer One.

Consider that a doctrine such as the Eucharist, which at the time of Luther was called the Sacrament of Unity, now has as many definitions as denominations, and outside the Catholic Church serves mostly to divide. To the devout Catholic, the Eucharist is "The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity" of Christ, "The Blessed Sacrament," "The Medicine of Immortality," "Our Daily Bread," "The Miracle of Lanciano," "the source and summit of the Christian life," "the sum and summary of our faith." To other denominations, it is merely some crackers and grape juice dragged out once a month, and for you probably something in between. Surely you can see that these definitions cannot all be true, but that if the Catholic definition, of which St. Padre Pio said, "It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass" is true, then the correct definition really matters.

Brad, you said that Luther did many good things for Christianity, and while I don't know if I agree with the "many" part, there is one thing I can give him credit for. Luther (and now Corapi) was the embodiment of Revelations 3:16. Depending on where you stand, Luther was either "hot" or "cold"; "lukewarm" was not in his vast if bawdy vocabulary. Luther was correct in discerning that, with all its history and claims, the Catholic Church could not be just another denomination, the pope merely another religious leader. The Church was either "The Bride of Christ" or "The Whore of Babylon," the pope either "The Rock" or "The Antichrist." Re-examine the evidence, learn the true meaning of papal infallibility, and then decide which side you are on. But whatever you do, Brad, don't choose the lukewarm, the middle. For then God does something with you and His mouth, and it's not pretty.

To all fans and former fans of "The Black Sheep Dog," check out our new Facebook page, Crying for Corapi, and get your two cents (or two Hail Marys) in.

© Tom O'Toole


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Tom O'Toole

Thomas Augustine O'Toole was born in Chicago and grew up in a devout Catholic family with five brothers and two sisters. He was the sports editor of Notre Dame's Scholastic magazine, where his story "Reflections on the Game" won the award for Best Sports Feature for the Indiana Collegiate Press Association... (more)


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