Yesterday, I noted approvingly that Fr. Gerard Sheehan, Fr. John Corapi’s SOLT superior, condemned Corapi in fairly plain English, rather than in the sort of obfuscatory Church-speak that once made John Allen, Jr. liken l’Osservatore Romano to Pravda. It seems to be contagious. Today, Corapi issued his rebuttal. No longer is he talking in terms of cabals against his human rights, or of plans to feed entire worlds. Instead, he sticks to contracts and money.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Granted, in the next and final paragraph, Corapi begins to air his inner Gloria Gaynor, as he insists he isn’t extinguished and won’t crawl under any rocks and die. But up till that point, he sounds like any businessman with a vested interest and a legal team to defend it. In that, he brings the whole matter back down to earth, which is where it’s always belonged.
By itself, denial of the sex charges doesn’t tell us anything. He’d deny them if they were false (after the manner of Joseph, son of Jacob), and as well if they were true (in the manner of Bill Clinton, brother of Roger). I see no reason to doubt that the money paid the interested parties came as a formal part of a severance agreement. Corapi strikes me as far too smart a customer to cover his flanks with a roll of small bills and a handshake. (In any case, the words “hush money” don’t appear in Sheehan’s statement.)
Corapi’s claims about SOLT’s investigative process are too vague to admit of easy interpretation. What rights of self-defense did he want but not get? And what can he mean about the “evidence supplied by the accused”? He IS the accused. Either this is a simple oversight or a sign he’s anticipating filing his own civil suit.
But it’s the first paragraph that I find most intriguing. His statement, that he set up his business “like any savvy business man [sic] would” suggests he sees ministry as a form of entrepreneurship. And though I won’t say a business model is necessarily a bad one, I doubt many churchmen would make the equation quite so baldly. Cardinal Mundelein, who always knew the bottom line when he saw it, once joked that, for $10,000, he’d spontaneously teach himself to speak Hebrew. But then, that sum probably wasn’t going to end up in his pocket.
Corapi defines his worth to SOLT by pointing to the ledger: he made his money on his own, kicking some back to SOLT from time to time. Therefore, he’s an asset. To treat him as anything else is a mark of the worst kind of ingratitude. Factually, he’s probably right. Corapi’s nothing if not a self-starter. SOLT’s association with him must have won the society no end of publicity, and probably a few candidates for the priesthood. Corapi doesn’t say what financial support he offered, but whatever it was, it must have been a lot more than nothing, which is what SOLT would have gotten had Corapi decided to transfer his vows to some diocese.
I can’t comment on the canon-legal aspects of the deal Corapi says he made with Fr. Flanagan, the one according to which he got to live outside of SOLT’s rules. To many observers, Corapi’s refusal to live in community despite Sheehan’s direction violates the spirit, if not the letter, of his obligation. Mark Shea admits wishing he’d “man up and humble himself.” The Te Deum blogger lectures Corapi from afar on the virtue of docility. Right or wrong, they’re missing Corapi’s point.
In his own mind, Corapi’s John Galt — the hyper-productive citizen who refuses to support a structure he sees as corrupt, effete, and worst of all, oppressive. He seems to want others to see him this way, too. He might not have cited his earning potential in the beginning, but when SOLT mentioned money and assets, it made up the meat of his retort
Mind, I‘m not suggesting this is a calculated move; Corapi‘s not positioning himself on an issue in order to appeal to a particular portion of the public. No, when he talks about money and independence and praises his own gumption, he sounds perfectly sincere. Nevertheless, this is bound to resonate with someone. As Marvin Olasky points out, a certain segment of the political Right has adopted Ayn Rand as a kind of prophet, though more likely despite her anti-Christian hostility than because of it. As Olasky writes of Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson, both avid Atlas Shrugged readers, “They may just be looking for a novel that shows young readers how capitalism turns individual self-interest into service to others, and in the process helps the poor far more than socialistic schemes do.”
This is the essence of Corapi’s message: not “I’m through doing good,” but “I can do more good serving myself than I ever could by serving those chowderheads in SOLT.” This will fall flat with most Catholics — excepting those who have traced his problems back to Saul Alinsky — but as Corapi’s said himself, he belongs to the world now.
All things considered, it’s tempting to say the world can jolly well have him.