As I feared, this news of Father Corapi’s departure and his newly-adopted moniker of the “Black Sheepdog” has been creating divisions all over the Catholic blogosphere. Some have called my perspective and charity into question over my commentary last night. A specific complaint is that I am accusing Father Corapi of leading a rebellion against the bishops, when he specifically asked people NOT to pick a fight with the bishops. Others in the Catholic blogosphere have rightly pointed out that the priests in China suffer far greater persecution, and wouldn’t even think of not saying mass. Still others rightly point to Father Corapi apealing to his fans and followers.
Saint Paul had much to say on that latter issue. So, first my take on Corapi and his rebellion against the bishops, and then I leave the last word to Saint Paul. On the matter of my perspective and insight into Father Corapi, I responded thus to a reader who is a solid Catholic citizen:
My perspective has been formed in the crucible of four years of seminary life, and an entire adult life of priests who have been among my closest friends and mentors. It’s a perspective not from the pews, but from the dinner table, where the daily realities are discussed frankly.
Father Corapi has given us a looking glass into the present and the future. It is a word. One word:
The black sheepdog. That’s the subtle rebellion against the bishops. Every time Mr. John Corapi preaches as the black sheepdog, that very name will call people to resent the bishops who “forced” Corapi to trade in his white alb, and to become the black outsider. Perhaps there are those who believe that I’m not giving Father a fair shake here. In fact, I wrote as one of his biggest supporters in the Catholic blogosphere when the allegations first came to light, and I still believe him to be in a no-win position.
However, BLACK is the operative word in all of this. It contains the subtle, evil manipulation of the people. I reiterate:
Father needs to sit tight and stay where he is. He was called to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ for a reason. He must stay where his Master has called him and await the fullness of that plan to be revealed in God’s time, not his.
He has my prayers.
And finally, from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:
A Church Divided Over Leaders
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 3
The Church and Its Leaders
1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b] 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas[c] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
UPDATE: The rumor mill is in full gear in the Catholic blogosphere. I’m now tackling the following issue– “Was Father Corapi actually ordained?” Read it here.