Imitate Christ or Imitate the blacksheepdog, the priest formerly known as Fr. Corapi
This is the new John Corapi as the black sheepdog logo. I kid you not.
John Corapi choose to deal with these matters in a public way and this invites our responding to him publicly. If he hadn’t made a big melodramatic public announcement, then I wouldn’t be making any public comment about it. I didn't say a word about the allegations when they first came to light months ago. But this is a different moment, a teaching moment and a prayerful moment.
If imitatio Christi means renouncing worldly ambition and seeking salvation by deeds of private virtue, imitatio black sheepdog means
• splitting from communion with one’s confreres and brother priests,
• abandoning the canonical disciplinary process to injustice and incompetence so that others will be left to correct it or be victimized by it
• announcing that your "fans" (his word) can now stay in touch with you through social media and, BTW, offering one’s materials in a fire sale for fifty percent off.
I don’t see a renunciation of worldly ambition nor do I see the longsuffering that characterizes the saints, in particular, Padre Pio. Rather, I see someone who, by his own admission, is trying to expand his audience and the range of topics he will address. What is lacking is submission to the dying and rising that is the pattern of the Christian life. Where are his statements about joining his sufferings with those of Christ. I don’t see them.
It may be true that he has been wronged by the system. Many of us have watched and or been the victim of diocesan administrative bungles. But even if sheepdog Corapi has been done wrong by the system, then he still bears responsibility for correcting it.
To give him, the greatest benefit of the doubt, this is his moment to use his remarkable gifts to challenge incompetence and injustice. But rather he resembles the rape victim who won’t testify in spite of the fact that her words might save other women from being raped. Her refusal to subject herself to the system leaves other women imperiled. His flight from the process hardly seems to consider the lives of those who will be subjected to future injustice at the hands of incompetent investigators and jurists.
This is giving him the greatest benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he is ill and erratic. Perhaps he is fighting a losing battle against self-pity. Perhaps he is cynically playing the system himself through civil law suits intended to silence his accusers. I don't know.
It’s just hard to see Fulton Sheen or Mother Angelica going off licking their wounds and, essentially, shelving the exercise of their office or charism, while they go off to invent some new media identity as the black Irishmen or risible Rita the righteous…
His cold embrace of self-pity and self-reliance leaves the rest of us without the warm hug of a priest many of us looked to as a model of imitating Christ. Now he’s the one who has given us the best reason to dismiss him with “yesterday’s garbage” as he puts it: he’s broken faith with the bishops, the successors to the apostles; he’s broken faith with his religious community; he’s broken faith with the imitation of Christ. Many who have worked with him say that he’s always been a lone wolf so, I suppose, being the black sheepdog won’t be nearly the painful transition that he would have us believe.