It is part of my job as a Catholic blogger to read as much as I can on hot Church topics and nothing is hotter than the Fr. Corapi story. So it is that I stumbled upon the post of one Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter (the one that got 4% in the vote for best Catholic newspaper).

I have critiqued Mr. Winters columns from time to time because, well, even I sometimes just want the easy post. What I am trying to say is that I have never been awestruck at Mr. Winters intellect. Well, actually I have. But not in the good way. That said, I have never thought of him as vicious. I may need to re-evaluate.

Writing on the Father Corapi story, Mr. Winters had this to say.

Still, everytime I flip channels and come across the supremely self-confident Corapi screaming about whatever cause he is embracing on any given day, I confess I have had the thought: Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. Stridency is rarely evidence of real, genuine faith.

It is also telling that Father Corapi’s statement is so breathtakingly self-centered as to cause one to question whether he has any clue about why the Church must take all accusation of priestly impropriety seriously.

Stop. Read it again. This is one of the most despicable comments I have seen on this topic. Mr. Winters suggests the likelihood of Father Corapi’s guilt in this case because he doesn’t like his style. If stridency evidences a lack of faith, as he suggests, then Mr. Winters gives Christopher Hitchens a run for his money in the faithless department. Winters is nothing if not strident.

Winters suggests Fr. Corapi lacks genuine faith and suggests by extension his possible guilt. Don’t tell me that is not what he said. Even a dolt like Mr. Winters is clever enough to leave himself some rhetorical escape clauses, but his intent is clear. This is evident in his indicting use of the phrase “doth protest too much.”

The principal use of Shakespeare’s phrase is suggest that one’s vehement protests are a reaction to one’s own hidden guilt. In Shakespeare– it is used by the unfaithful queen who married her husband’s murderer. She protests because she knows she is guilty. Winters thereby suggests Corapi’s insincerity in faith and given the context — this impugns guilt — obvious caveats not withstanding. Even in his redolent craftiness, what is Mr. Winters if not strident?

So what Winters is saying is that Father Corapi is so strident in his defense of the faith as to suggest that he really doesn’t believe it. And if he doesn’t really believe it…ahem! Do the math.

This. Is. Despicable.

Now I do not pretend that I have any idea about what Father is or is not guilty of, but I presume innocence. Winters does not. Evidence? Stridency. (I hope that faithless St. John the Baptist and St. Vincent Ferrer are not reading this.)

It shouldn’t surprise that when channel surfing between episodes of Spartacus and Glee, coming across Fr. Copapi might be jarring. Truth can do that. One might forgive Winters as he is a member of a generation reared on milquetoast which consequently views flavored oatmeal as strident. He is also a member of Catho-clique that prefers such watered down version of the faith that genuine faith expressed genuinely is unpalatable.

But whether you like his style or not, Father Corapi speaks what the Church speaks and ultimately that might be the style that Mr. Winters finds so unsettling.

I am not sure what Fr. Corapi may be guilty of, but I can’t say the same for Mr. Winters.