On the 20th Anniversary of his ordination, Fr. John Corapi has decided to leave the Catholic Priesthood an concentrate on a “wider audience” as he announces his new web site The Black Sheep Dog. A statement on his website says it all. A clip:

I accept moving on, but I am not ready to be altogether extinguished just yet. In the final analysis I have only one of only two viable choices:
1. I can quietly lie down and die, or
2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on.

I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it. He in fact threatened to release a reprehensible and libelous letter to all of the bishops if they did not suspend me. He has a perfect right to do so, and I defend that right. Bishops aren’t bound by civil laws and procedures in internal Church matters. I agree with that, and would defend to the death the Church’s right to proceed as they see fit. He is the bishop and he has the right to govern as he sees fit. It isn’t an easy task. Many forces besiege him, including pressure from other bishops.

My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process. The Church will conclude that I am not cooperating with the process because I refuse to give up all of my civil and human rights in order to hold harmless anyone who chooses to say defamatory and actionable things against me with no downside to them. The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be.

I guess the Bishop of Corpus Christi shouldn’t expect a Christmas card?

There is one curious statement toward the end of his announcement.

I will not try to fight this irrational and unjust situation for the simple reason that I don’t want to be placed in an adversarial posture against the Church. For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep. Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that.

“PERHAPS I DESERVE THAT?” Those are his words and not mine, but that’s as close to an admission of guilt that I think you’re going to get. I think there’s something more to this but I doubt that we’ll ever hear the whole story.

That said, I liked Fr. Corapi. He wasn’t someone I would say that I agreed with all the time, but I thought that his humor was often funny and that he had a pretty good show. There were times I didn’t like what he had to say, but also times that I thought he was spot on.

I do find this a bit distasteful that he continues to use this moment to plug his new website instead of coming forth with evidence of his innocence himself. Maybe that day will be coming and I pray for it.

But perhaps, there is good reason for his leaving. Perhaps he is quitting because he is guilty? I hope he isn’t, but I fear that he did something that is irreparable. Otherwise why else would he not produce the evidence of his innocence? A second thought is more positive, he’s giving up to not harm the accuser any further. Either way, Corapi had some kind of dealing with her. What happened after that is anyone’s guess.

It’s a sad day for him and for the priesthood and most of all, for the church. Detractors will pile on and say, “Yep, there’s another bad priest who has problems with sex and women.”

I’m wondering what supporters and detractors will do. Will the 5000 facebook fans he has leave the church now? Doubtful–but it will be interesting to see what happens.