Friday, March 23, 2007

Looking Good

Fr. Jonathon Morris

Fr. Fessio, S.J.

While I would never want to kick a man when he is down I have no problem at all with doing so when a man is on top- and undeservedly so.

When I was looking for an image of Fr. Fessio I found that it was difficult to find a really good photogenic picture of the twice fired priest. Fr. Fessio is an academic, a publisher and now a theologian- public image has not been on the radar screen and I respect that. To me it speaks volumes about a person. The pictures of Fr. Fessio are not especially flattering. Fr. Fessio doesn't have an image or a public persona that he has been cultivating.

Unlike, well Fr. Jonathon Morris, Legionnaire extraordinaire. Notice the confidence, the lighting, the hair do, the background of Fr.'s file photo and the utter lack of substance in Fr. Jonathon's remarks.

Being a bookish, dowdy type myself I admit a certain prejudice in favor or someone who is not too done up. But it is striking isn't it?

I only wish that Fr. Jonathon had been available during the Early Church years. I suspect that many a martyr's death could have been averted if he had followed Fr. Jonathon's modus operandi- keep the truth quiet especially if it is going to upset someone. Particularly it if is going to upset someone who has money and might want to give it to you. For your ministry.

With the incredible disobedience shown by Catholics on the issue of birth control I think Fr. Jonathon's despicable obscuring of the truth will have incalculable effects.


Steve said...

Now imagine 700 priests that look just like him, and another 2500 seminarians. In "more than 20 countries."

The superficiality of the Legionaries runs the gamut from appearance to liturgy to methodology. They're like a movie set. They look so great as long as you don't go any deeper. Then you find out that the food is plastic, the house is 2-dimensional, and the walls are cardboard.

It's a shame, too, because they atract a lot of good men with their veneer of orthodoxy. Then they slowly turn them into zombie-clones.

Edward said...

I'm not defending them, Steve, but in all fairness I would like to know the source of your invective response. What do you know, or what has been your experience personally with them.

Hint: I myself have had a little interaction with them.

Lee Gilbert said...

Well, I have no idea what Fr. Jonathan's comments were. You don't reference them. Yours, however, are simply incredible. I stopped giving to the legionaries over the Fr. Maciel issue, but to paint with so broad a brush, beginning with a priest's appearance, is beneath good sense, to say no more. Perhaps you have never heard the phrase, "judging by appearances," but this post is practically an archtypeal instance of it.

Beyond that, if you are going to present yourself as a commentator on the Catholic Church, you would help yourself and your readers immensely were you to reflect on this recent article from Homiletic and Pastoral Review on judging priests and bishops:

M. Alexander said...

My dear Lee Gilbert

Please read the next blog entry. I reprint Fr. Morris' letter almost entirely- certainly the salient points.

While I would never pick on someone only for their looks once they do something to irritate me- like criticize a holy priest I figure they are fair game.

By the way I think it is remarkable the way you RC people stay on message in spite of so many problems with the Legion. I hope your loyalty is rewarded and not taken for granted.

NCTradCatholic said...

Priceless. As the Brits would say, you're "spot on!".

Steve said...

My experience with the Legion involves several aspects:

- I was the first Regnum Christi young men's team captain in the United States in 1995.

- I lived in community with the Legionaries in two separate houses of apostolate for a little over a year.

- I spent a year at "The Highlands School" in Irving, TX (an LC school.)

- I attended five missions with the Regnum Christi apostolate "Youth for the Third Millenium" in four different countries. I coordinated one and was mission director for another.

- I spent a limited amount of time in their summer candidacy program in Cheshire, CT - enough to get a flavor.

- I was involved in their "co-worker" program for full time volunteers.

- I tought 7th & 8th grade religion at their Pinecrest Academy in Dunwoody, Georgia.

- I've been on numerous retreats with them in and out of the Seminary; have been involved in recruitment efforts on their behalf; have been involved in their youth group (ECYD) program in New York, Texas and Georgia.

- I was close to a number of their key priests in the U.S. during my involvement, including the (at that time) Assistant Territorial Director for the US, Canada and Mexico.

- I personally know at least 30 people who have had varying degrees of involvement with them across the country including friends, family members and aquaintances, and all have had strongly negative experiences.

I've been there, seen it, done it. So have most of my friends. The group is manipulative, deceitful and dangerous and has a corrupted methodology that leads to betrayal, animosity and loss of faith on the part of those they cast off.

I wasn't cast off, I left for personal reasons. No hard feelings when I left. That was until they began spreading rumors and engaging in a campaign to diminish my character amongst those members with whom I was friendly or aquainted. Priests who had been friendly with me turned their back on me. A wall arose between them and me. One priest sent me a message saying, "We owe you an apology for how you've been treated, but the Legion will never come to you. You have to come to us."

There's a reason why they aren't welcome at many of the conservative Catholic colleges. They're dangerous. They are a viral group whose sole purpose is self-propagation. Intellectual honesty and healthy criticism of method is not tolerated.

When Fr. Maciel was quietly put out to pasture by the Vatican - a move that did justice to no one, I might add - it didn't surprise me. Though I had never been given reason to believe he WAS guilty of the charges, I also had no reason to believe he wasn't. What I did believe, however, through long exposure, was that the entire system he created was corrupt.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Fr. Jonathan Morris is a priest I do not know. He would likely have been a seminarian when I was involved. I don't claim to judge his soul, only his character. He has made very public comments, and those are fair game for criticism.

The short end of it is that he had an opportunity to uphold the faith, and instead he pandered to a man who doesn't deserve defense. Then again, Sean Hannity is powerful man, and the LCs are drawn to powerful men like moth to a flame.

It's just how they work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input. Obviously you have a lot of experience with the Legion. I still think that such a broad brush depiction is an injustice to many in the Legion.
My experience while certainly not as extensive as yours is different from yours. And I don't think that I am some naive bumpkin either.
I have heard the objections like yours before and I am not discounting your experience. I must admit that there are things about the Legion that I am not crazy about (no need to elaborate now). And Fr Morris' response to the Hannity thing absolutely disgusted me. The response did have a certain Legion "flavor" to it, too, if you know what I mean.
But for the most part the priests and brothers that I have been associated with thru Regnum Christi, going to retreats, several medical missions to other countries, other apostolates, etc have been great and certainly are a breath of fresh air compared to what I suffer thru in my "less than orthodox" diocese.


edward said...

Well, Steve, you would seem qualified to say a thing or two about them.
We shall have to wait and see what comes of it all, I suppose.

Steve said...


As I said in the beginning, they attract a lot of good guys.

Over time, however, they change people.

I know it's a broad brush to paint with, but I've seen it from a broad perspective. The very fact that something can have a "Legionary flavor" is a testament to that.

In my opinion, there is a systemic problem in their formation and the execution of their apostolate. They drew me in for the same reasons they draw anyone in - the experience of Catholicism you get with them is at least superficially much better than you get at almost any parish. They appear far more orthodox.

And in every day things, I suppose you could say that they are - their dress, their discipline, their reverence, for example.

But that, in my experience, is the exquisite icing on the rotten cake. The deeper you get into the organization, the more you see its flaws - flaws so deep as to make me willing to warn people about them knowing full well I will have to stand before God and answer for it.

If I didn't believe it, I wouldn't say it.

And it is, as I said earlier, a real shame. They recruit some excellent men. The problem is that they change them.

The end game of all of this is anyone's guess. One priest I am aware of who was investigating them under orders from his superiors told a friend of mine that he believed that they were using the sacraments to gain temporal power.

While this statement would require substantiation, it seems to fit. They consolidate wealth; they execute hostile takeovers of institutions; they assimilate powerful Catholics into their ranks. I met more rich and powerful people when working with the LCs than at any other time of my life. Professional athletes, powerful executives, owners of companies and sports teams - these were the people we courted.

They need prayers, the whole group of them. Maybe things will change for the better now that Fr. Maciel is out.

Petrus said...

Ditto to everything that Steve said regarding LC and RC. I too was volunteered with them for a year, and it took me a really long time after I left to realize the manipulation. I too left of my own accord.

I would guess that most of the people involved have little idea of what the end game really is. Alot of people involved do figure out after a while that the methods don't save souls, but do gain members. Those who have bought into the "mission" think this is enough to save souls.