Saturday, July 9, 2011

Forget Theological/Liturgical Wars, Catholics Need To Battle Internal Narcissism

It sure seems that sometimes only a desert is big enough to tame some egos, and some of those egos will take more than forty days.

I'm finding the John Corapi story fascinating to follow for any number of reasons.  The first reason is that this story is playing out in real time with the instantaneous communication technology of the twenty first century. If SOLT thought they had found their very own Maciel who was going to lead them to the promised land, they were fifty years too late.  There are no more deep and timeless closets in which Catholicism can hide the truth of their narcissistic charismatic money makers.   

Second, I have sadly watched what I knew would happen,  that Corapi's followers would engage in a serious feeding frenzy on each other.  I saw the same thing happen with the Legion of Christ, just as it's happened with numerous conservative televangelists.  Eddie Long comes to mind.  Third, I was curious to see how Corapi would dance around the accusations leveled at him by SOLT.  Since the man is convinced of his own brilliance, SOLT's response to him was like throwing a bone to a pack of blacksheepdogs.  I figured Corapi would be unable to restrain himself.  I was right.  It is a wonderful example of disingenuous self justifying babble.  Here it is in it's entirety:

I am going to answer in a simple, straight forward way what seem to me the main elements of the action taken against me by the Diocese of Corpus Christi and the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. (Corapi starts out telling his readers he will answer only those things which seem to him to be the main elements. We should not be surprised he omits answering half the allegations in SOLT's letter.)

Regarding my personal financial situation—From the earliest days (more than twenty years ago) the Founder of the Society of Our Lady, Fr. James Flanagan, encouraged me to support myself and the Church as well. He said they could not afford to support my ministry and me personally because of the unique nature of the mission. At every step of the way, through the entire past twenty years, the Society of Our Lady’s leadership knew of my financial independence.  As Fr. Flanagan encouraged, I have supported SOLT and myself from ‘day-one.‘  I have never relied on the Society for shelter, clothing, transportation, medical care, or legal counsel and instead, using my history of success in business, set up my mission as any savvy business man would, meanwhile continuing to support the Society and many other Catholic Charities.
(SOLT has a great deal to answer for in their giving Corapi this much freedom. They are as responsible for Corapi's abuse of his priesthood as Corapi is. Corapi is quite correct in pointing this out, even if it is for totally self justifying reasons.)

Regarding the charge of sexual impropriety—This song of greed has been sung many times before.  I have never had any promiscuous or even inappropriate relations with her.  Never. (Except the SOLT response alleges far more than just one person.  Additionally, I would have to know how Corapi is defining promiscuous or inappropriate.  There is a canonical definition, a legal definition, and a contractual definition of what might or might not be appropriate.  In almost all of his dealings Corapi has taken the legal and/or contractual approach.  In this approach, paying a sex worker for sexual services could be considered appropriate---even if, ahemm, she might have been 'greedy'.)

Regarding the investigation—As standard practice, my legal counsel advised me not to cooperate with the investigation until I was able to determine that the Commission’s process was fair and I had adequate rights to defend myself.  Questions that certainly qualify the validity of any legal case have never been answered by the so called “fact finding team.”  They refuse to reveal, and therefore utilize, any of the so-called evidence perhaps because if ‘the bad guy’ were truly revealed it may be revealed that he is really not that bad.  Clearly, as my legal counsel has portrayed, the evidence supplied by the accused (of which my counsel is not permitted access to) must not have any substance. (Here Corapi admits he will not credence the canonical process and instead chooses the legal/contractual process. Apparently he's only a priest at his own convenience and in his own mind 'he is really not that bad.'  Neither was Maciel in his own mind.)

Regarding ‘hush money’—I never paid anybody off to remain silent. On two occasions there were standard severance agreements executed with former employees and independent contractors. These agreements contained very common non-disclosure provisions. Any attorney who would not include such provisions in such agreements would rightly be guilty of negligent and actionable conduct. (Except Corapi more or less did pay people to sign them, and according to his law suit against his accuser, these non disclosure agreements went far beyond intellectual property rights.

Regarding my resignation—I resigned because the process used by the Church is grossly unjust, and, hence, immoral. I resigned because I had no chance from the beginning of a fair and just hearing.  As I have indicated from the beginning of all this, I am not extinguished!  If I were to commit to the suggestion of the Society, then I would essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die.  However, I can not deny this desire to share aspects of Truth and Hope with all those willing to hear.  This is what I shall continue to fight for!  Many are not going to appreciate this decision, and I respect that.  For those who can accept it, onward!
("I am not extinguished.", I will not "essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die" , "I can not deny this desire" ---to share my wonderful self with all who will are willing to worship my wonderfullness. These are all statements indicative of a certain personality, but it is not a definition of a humble one.)


Off hand I can't remember which blog I read this on, but one commenter suggested that Catholicism would be far better off dropping it's war against secular relativism and engaging in a war against narcissism.  The Church could actually fight that war by making it's very first battle one to wipe out narcissism in it's clerical ranks.  If a religious figure willingly runs to the spotlight, that's a pretty good sign they should be sent immediately to the desert where they can bask in the wonderful light of their own perfect company without destroying the faith of others.  Nuff said.


  1. I've heard and read some EWTN and conservative responses to the Corapi situation. First, many people share how close they felt to Christ while he spoke, how much closer they came to God. I feel for them. As a clergy abuse victim, I had to come to grips with the fact that some good things did come from this man, some wisdom, some of God's work. Separating the wheat from the chaff, in the faces of those who lionize the holy priest of God, and also in the faces of those who demonized him, wishing to send him to hell before God had to.... let's just say it takes years and more.

    The part I'm amazed by is the EWTN line, heard from two different people on the same day (one driving to work, the other from --they are nothing if not organized). Both said that the sinful messenger doesn't sully the message, that sinners still reflect God. Never would we say that the likes of Eutenauer, Corapi, et al could actually be twisting God's message. Never should we question why EWTN keeps serving up charlatans. Are they complicit? Are they not performing due diligence? And those like you and I, foreseeing the inevitable and pointing out the lack of Christ in the message, remain the cafeteria users, Christianity lite, either too stupid or too faithless or too evil to follow the one true way.

    I disagree with those among us who advocate leaving the Church. However, you all have taught me to redefine Church a thousand times, until I somehow approach the "people of God" V II definition which frightens and petrifies the hierarchy. I think we'll have to bear the cross of carrying those fearful bachelors, heavy with rings and miters and French cuffs, along with us. I just wish I didn't feel like such a fool for believing that.

  2. People say the identical thing about Medjugorge. What I wish people would understand is that it's not God working through Medjugorge or Corapi that fuels their conversion. It's God working through them.

    Corapi's preaching or Medjugorge are only doorways people have chosen to make the connection with God that results in their conversion. Anything can serve as a doorway, just as that same thing can serve to close those doors.

    In the final analysis the depth of our relationship with God is all about our choices as they are expressed in our other relationships. It is these things on which our final judgement rests. I suspect at that time if the finger we are pointing isn't aimed at us, we won't get too many brownie points with God.

  3. Wonderful commentary, Colleen, which I'm just now seeing. I love your concluding remarks:

    "Off hand I can't remember which blog I read this on, but one commenter suggested that Catholicism would be far better off dropping it's war against secular relativism and engaging in a war against narcissism. The Church could actually fight that war by making it's very first battle one to wipe out narcissism in it's clerical ranks."


  4. If Catholicism is ever going to regain any trust in it's clergy, it's going to have to root out clerical narcissism. Unfortunately, it looks like they are rooting it back in. Eugene Kennedy's NCR posts on set decorators have been sadly informative.