EWTN's statement on Corapi – UPDATED

EWTN's statement on Corapi – UPDATED June 20, 2011

Unable to sleep this weekend, I was very grateful to be able click on EWTN in the wee small hours and find the brilliant art historian and writer Elizabeth Lev discussing the paintings of Georges Rouault and Caravaggio on this wonderful program on EWTN:

Over on Facebook, a brief statement from the network:

EWTN was deeply saddened by the news that Father John Corapi has announced his decision to resign from active priestly ministry and religious life. Unfortunately, his decision makes it impossible for the Network to return his programming to the airwaves. We urge our EWTN Family to continue to pray for him, for all priests and for the unity of the Church.

The comments following these remarks range from the sorrowful to the angry to the childish to the spiteful. Clearly people are hurting, but they need to get a flipping grip, now, and remember that EWTN has provided them with sound Catholic programming for 30 years, and has done nothing wrong to John Corapi; they are simply remaining consistent to their own (reasonable) policies, and treating him — excuse me, folks but some need to hear it — like a man, and not a god, saint or superhero. EWTN is not “punishing” Corapi. They are not “abandoning” him. He is removing himself from priestly ministry (in the vaguest way possible, too, it seems) and therefore, sorry, but you won’t be able to watch old tapes of his that identify him as a priest.

This is a sane and reasonable policy that those in the midst of emotional chaos cannot seem to grasp.

All of this emotionalism and chaos, by the way, is pretty unseemly for followers of Christ. There is no emotionalism, no chaos and no hysteria in Jesus Christ, who is the Truth. He is the Word. There appears to be rather a lot of emotionalism, chaos and hysteria among some of Corapi’s fans, but I don’t know that I blame them for it; they’re enthralled to a man, and the man is playing with words in every way he can.

I’ve gotten some vicious emails over the weekend from Corapi supporters for the sin of daring to raise an eyebrow at some of his excesses, rather than simply loving him and declaring him a victim and saint who should either be pope or president. Many of them tell me Corapi has the truth and they quote Jesus at me: “by his fruits you shall know him.”

Well, since so much of Corapi’s fruit is writing to me with violent imagery, and threatening to (among other things) leave the church, kick people or destroy one of the most reliable venues for Catholic programming in the world, you’ll forgive me if I’m thinking his most recent harvests are not making good wine.

As I wrote in response to a comment from this thread:

EWTN has treated Corapi no differently than they have any other priest under suspension, and — far from being a “tool” of “the bishops” — has always been an independent entity that has striven to present orthodox Catholicism to Catholics. It is a measure of how enthralled his fans are to a mere man, that so many chose to forget that, and to demonize the network for doing nothing more than practicing the virtue of prudence, as it does for all suspended/embroiled priests. Talk about biting off the nose to spite the face! Corapi got enormous exposure and built his fanbase partially in thanks to EWTN’s exposure. Through all of this, it would have been gracious of Corapi to have reminded his passionate defenders that EWTN needed their fidelity and their donations, if they were to continue to bring them the masses and programming they want. But graciousness seems not to be part of Corapi’s M.O., or at least it hasn’t been on display, during these months. And perhaps he figures there is only so much donation money to go around.

Yeah, I hate to sound cynical, but you know, everything Corapi says on one side of his mouth, he contradicts out of the other side of his mouth. As this blogger priest observes:

as much as I hate to say it, is duplicitous in saying (on one hand) that the bishops have a right to do what they are doing and then (on the other) to malign them for violating his rights and daring to impose discipline upon him.

Yes, sort of in line with excoriating his accuser, then saying he “wishes her well” while simultaneously suing her for being in breach of her non-disclosure agreement, or telling his listeners “don’t write to the bishop” in a way that sounds like an invitation to do exactly that.

I’m sorry. I don’t want to mash Fr. Corapi, and I have prayed for him — I pray for priests every day, by name when I can, and yes I’ve been praying for him by name, because I do think he is in spiritual turmoil — but I am also becoming angry, because he seems to be leaving nothing but destruction in his wake, and he appears to be okay with that. There is a tremendous amount of self-focus and melodrama (and a stunning lack of charity) in what he is putting out there, which is strictly meant to appeal to emotionalism — the very cheap gas that always leaves one stranded. He has not managed a moment of graciousness or betrayed any concern for the havoc he has wrought in the lives of many. He could very easily tell his fans not to withhold donations from EWTN– which has provided decades of the programming his fans say they want and need — and which he presumably endorses; but he does not do so.

You can, however, buy his materials and he does hope you’ll keep an eye out for his book and his new media products.

For those of you who want to punish EWTN
for quite sensibly pulling old tapes that would misrepresent Corapi’s current (and self-chosen) status and sow confusion, I hope you will be ready to take credit for it, when you can no longer find programming like this:

O Irony! You always do turn up!

Deacon Bill Ditewig has had about enough of the extreme rhetoric and polarization

Defending Bishop Mulvey

Related: Strange Gods; Toxicity in the Cult of Personality

Closing comments. I am done giving a forum to some of this nuttiness. It’s toxic.

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