You don’t have to look far to find a lot of wide-ranging reaction to the Big News around the blogosphere.
First up, Max Lindenman, who says something a few people have wondered about in e-mails to me:
The man is deeply distraught — that much is obvious. I’ll also venture the guess that he’s either over-medicated or — perhaps worse — under-medicated. He strikes too many discordant notes, sends too many mixed signals. Corapi is a very polished and very experienced public speaker; in his right mind, he’d know the importance of consistency. Perhaps he was under some sort of pressure to put out this statement in a hurry. But even if he couldn’t recognize the bizarreness of his message, you’d think somebody close to him would step in and say, “Say, John, don’t you think we ought to tweak that?”
Makes me wonder whether he’s getting bad advice, or more likely, is getting good advice, but disregarding it.
Corapi’s a survivor. He said so in pretty much exactly those words, and that’s a good thing. But what terms is he going to survive on? He’s got a history of addiction and a gramdiose notion of himself — not a good combination. With his whole world caving in on him, I don’t think it takes a Jewish mother to wonder whether he’ll return to old habits. After all, he no longer has any superiors to answer to. He’s his own man, with exactly as much rope as he’ll need to hang himself.
Deacon Bill Ditewig is also suggesting the best prescription at this juncture may be prayer:
No matter where you fall on your opinion of this man, it is time now to pray for everyone concerned. In particular, we should be praying for the many people who placed so much faith in his ministry. They are finding all of this quite devastating.
Frank Weathers is unimpressed:
As for me and my house, we won’t be waiting for salvation via Pirate Radio broadcasts from Mr. John Corapi anytime soon. We’ve better things to do.
He protests his innocence, slimes his accuser and investigators, urges you to buy his stuff in celebration of his 20th Anniversary as a priest, while simultaneously abandoning his fatherly vows on Father’s day , covering himself in self-pity for his choice and ditching all the people who trusted him, all apparently to transmogrify himself into some sort of Talk Radio/Internet superhero called “The Black Sheepdog” so he can reincorporate, start bringing in the bucks again, and convince the suckers who follow him into his new incarnation as guru to blame the Church for his troubles.
Another person who is not impressed is Jimmy Akin:
Fr. Corapi—or “the Black SheepDog”—or whatever he wants to be called—chose not to stand firm in the face of what he claimed were false allegations.
Instead, he chose to defy authority and set up his own shop, claiming as a “sheep dog” to protect the flock whose leaders he is defying.
Unless something very improbable happens, he has thus abandoned his priesthood in a way that will from here on out bar him from serving as a Catholic priest.
By the way, I had no idea what the result of the investigation would be prior to this announcement, but in view of it, and in view of what was previously known, I am in no way surprised.
I wish I had been, but I’m not.
I wish things had gone better.
Fr. Corapi has “lost it.”
And by “it” I mean any likely chance of working as a priest again.
It doesn’t matter if the charges against him were false. By refusing to cooperate with the Church’s process, and by announcing his intention to speak in defiance of that authority, he has rejected any chance of resolving the charges against him on the grounds that he is innocent.
And I have to throw out a few questions still waiting for answers:
How come we didn’t see him on that video? Conspiracy theorists are arguing in some comboxes, here and elsewhere, that it might not really be him and maybe the whole thing is a huge hoax. And, I gotta say: the imagery used on that tape was creepy to the point of being diabolical.
What does his order have to say about this? It would be helpful to get some confirmation from them.
Is he going to stay a Catholic? While it appears he is choosing to be laicized and released from his vows, in Catholic theology, Corapi is “a priest forever.” Is he going to encourage his faithful followers (“fans”) to stick with the Church, the institution that he fought for and which he has consistently proclaimed as the sole source of salvation? Or does he have something else now in mind?
What about EWTN? They took an enormous amount of heat — and quite a few heat-seeking missiles — for taking him off the air when the investigation began. Corapi’s fans have been merciless in condemning the channel for that (even though they had no choice, under the circumstances) and have blitzed the station’s management with petitions and phone calls. I have no doubt a lot of people have stopped giving to the network over this debacle — and that may be one reason they are pleading for donations right now. The fact remains: EWTN helped make Corapi the media star that he became; inadvertently, that may have contributed to his fall. But he can’t deny that it was their support and encouragement that put him on the map. They gave him the international platform from which he launched his media empire. It would be gracious and generous for him to encourage his fans to keep watching the channel, and to continue to support the invaluable work of EWTN. Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
UPDATE and Mea Culpa: I took out an earlier reference that I’d made to some speculation by a couple of priests. It was gratuitous — and, as more than a few commenters have pointed out, both unfounded and uncharitable. I’m better than that. And Corapi deserves better than that, too.
UPDATE II: From my diaconal brother, Scott Dodge, quoting another deacon in his combox who is an expert on issues related to mental health:
In working with hundreds of men and women in the past 30 years in the areas of mental health and chemical dependency, his statement sounds very similar to what I have heard from other who are struggling with addictions or blows to their personalities.
I fear him, or what he could do now, to cause division in the Church.
I really hope he refrains from continuing to call himself, “The Black Sheep Dog.” It is ominous.
That deacon, Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota, concludes:
“From only reading the text of his statement it strikes me of a man who has a wounded pride. He seems to be lashing out, and seeing himself in some way now as the defender of truth in the world. He doesn’t actually say that, but it leaves that impression in my mind.”
And then there is this, from Pat Archbold:
The process may be grossly unfair, but it really has only begun. Throwing in the towel so quickly, unfair process or not, is not the only thing that stinks in Denmark.
Leaving the priesthood so that you can continue your (profit making?) ministry after three months says that he does not hold his priesthood in very high regard. How can a priest give up saying the Mass so easily?
There are priests in China who suffer much more than Corapi has in these last few months at the hands of a much more unjust system but would never consider giving up their legitimate priesthood. Never.
This quick decision to abandon the priesthood by Corapi cannot help leave one with the impression that the priesthood was only a means to an end. When the going got rough, he quickly dumped the priesthood to move on. This does not speak well of him.