In the past week, much ado has been made of the current situation concerning Father John Corapi and his decision to leave the priesthood. Let me state right now that this will not be one of the following:
1. A recitation of the events leading up to today.
2. A defense of Father Corapi
3. An attack on Father Corapi
4. An attack or defense of any of the parties involved or who have involved themselves.
What this will be is my take on his direction as The Black Sheepdog from my, (in my opinion), unique perspective as a Catholic blogger who is in the military.
When I first read of Father Corapi's decision to pursue this current direction, I visited his new site. I was, initially, rather impressed by it. You see, while some view the Black Sheepdog metaphor with trepidation or see in it the seeds of disobedience; as a soldier I see something quite different. LTC (ret) Dave Grossman wrote an article entitled On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs, (follow the link) that looks at the people of society using those metaphors. Those tasked with protecting the flock are the sheepdogs, the warriors, those who have a capacity for violence equal to or surpassing that of the wolf (the predator), but choosing to use it to protect the flock.
When I visited the new site, with that metaphor in mind, I was initially impressed. In the back of my mind though, a flicker of caution appeared, (and as a soldier I learned a long time ago that if something doesn't seem right, it ain't.) The more I have read and heard from Father Corapi since then the more I saw what was bothering me; who does the sheepdog obey?
The sheepdog protects the flock at the bidding of the shepherd. The sheepdog, like the flock, follows the voice of the shepherd. It is the shepherd who oversees the sheepdog at work, the shepherd from whom the sheepdog receives his sustenance, and the shepherd with whom the sheepdog, along with his or her pack mates, shares their companionship. A sheepdog without a shepherd is simply a stray. A dog that can as easily attack as protect.
While Father Corapi has leveled strong accusations at his temporal shepherds, (the bishops), he has not once since this began even uttered the name of his true Shepherd, Jesus Christ. As a man from whom I have not heard anything other than the catechism or the Gospels in the 12 years since I first heard him speak, this fills me with great concern. Without the voice of a shepherd to guide, I can not follow be I a sheep or a sheepdog in my own right who protects the flock in a different way.
Again, I don't know who is right or wrong, nor do I think that anyone other than the parties involved ever will due to their actions and the actions of others. I do know that a brilliant catechist will no longer be heard to speak with the authority of his priesthood. I know that the Church so desperately in need of good priests has lost a man who was an example to and an inspiration for the vocations of many. I know that the Church will suffer a greater injury than any of the parties involved individually as those who attack the Church have gained a victory at no cost to themselves. I know that I will continue to follow The Shepherd as best I can and listen for the sound of his voice. I know that this sheepdog and the black sheepdog must now part ways. The pack is weaker, the flock at greater risk, and the wolves still wait in the dark.