Posts Tagged “legion of christ”

CorpusChristiExt2It’s no secret that the Fox News network is a leading bastion of Religious Right ideology. Pretty much every big name on the network is a committed Christianist to one degree or another. Oddly enough, in spite of the fact that the Religious Right movement for which this channel works is a product of Protestant evangelical Christianity, many of the channel’s biggest names — e.g. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity — are Roman Catholic. Of course, the rivalry between these wings of Christianity hasn’t gotten in the way of these folk marching in lock-step with their Protestant brethren and sistren. It’s surprising how few differences there are among them, even if historically Catholics and Protestants had been known to go to war with each other.

At any rate, one of Fox’s more overtly religious mouthpieces for Christofascism is Fr Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest who — like his fellow Catholics on Fox — has made common cause with Protestants. As Raw Story explains, he recently appeared on the channel to declare that atheists are unfit to serve as president (WebCite cached article):

Catholic priest and Fox News contributor Father Jonathan Morris argued over the weekend that atheists were not suitable candidates for president because it was “hard to trust” someone who did not believe that God would punish them.…

According to Morris, anything that did not “inform” a public official’s life was not faith “because faith is a set of beliefs.”

“It’s a belief in God, it’s a belief that there are eternal consequences for your actions,” he explained. “And I think that a leader that doesn’t have that — a set of core beliefs that help him to make justice an important part of his life and his decisions because he knows that there are eternal consequences, well, it’s somebody that it’s hard to trust.”

This might seem a reasonable conclusion to Christofascists like Morris and the rest of the insane crew he works with at Fox. But if one thinks about it, it doesn’t really work. I’d much rather have as president someone who can figure out right and wrong on his/her own, and who has both the ability and willingness to do the right thing of his/her own accord, without having to be frightened into it by threat of punishment imposed by some wild-eyed cosmic sky-tyrant. An upstanding, effective leader should not need metaphysical beliefs to drill morals and ethics into him/her.

But then, I’m just a cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen, so what the hell could I possibly know about such important things?

One thing I’d like to point out about Fr Jonathan, however, is that he’s part of the Legion of Christ, a clerical order that’s been mired in scandal for a number of years. I’ve blogged about this order and its attendant scandal several times. A Vatican investigation — which, typically, took far longer than it needed to have — ended up substantiating accusations against the order’s founder, Fr Marcial Maciel (cached). The order remains under Vatican oversight, and a number of Maciel’s underlings and other officials of the order are being investigated.

Now, my mention of Morris’s order’s sordid past might seem inappropriate … as though I’m smearing him for the misdeeds of others. Perhaps I am. To be clear, I’m not saying Morris must have been involved in any shenanigans. But I’d like to point out that, for several years, he was on the staff of the order’s seminary in Rome. He very likely had direct access to the order’s leadership, some of whom the Vatican has investigated. What does that mean for Fr Jonathan? I have no idea … but that’s the problem. The Legion of Christ remains under a cloud of suspicion — a cloud that the R.C. Church itself created, on its own.

Oh, and I’m not even going to go into the part of the US Constitution which says there can never be any religious test for any official in the country, including the presidency. (That part, by the way, is Article VI paragraph 3. Just in case you wondered. Not that religiofascists give a shit that it’s there.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pliino Lepri, AP / Pope John Paul II blesses late father Marcial Maciel, founder of Christ's Legionaries, in November 2004. The Vatican is now investigating seven priests from the Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors.A couple years ago I blogged about the Vatican’s takeover of the long-troubled priestly order Legionaries of Christ. This order’s founder, the late Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, had been a darling of the previous Pope, the Blessed John Paul II. It seems, in hindsight … after years of internal Church investigations that only really began once John Paul had died … that Fr Maciel had been up to no good, and the order itself served as a front behind which he operated as a kind of rogue clerical princeling. My prior blog post on Maciel lays out some of what he’d been up to.

But it turns out the late Fr Maciel wasn’t the only misbehaving Legionary of Christ. Two years after taking over this sorry excuse for a clerical order, the AP reports (via USA Today), the Vatican has begun looking into the affairs of several other Legionaries (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors and another two for other alleged crimes, The Associated Press has learned. …

[T]he Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children — just as abusive clergy of other religious orders and dioceses have done around the world.

This has actually been a long time coming. For years, the Vatican bureaucracy has been nosing around, collecting reports of various abuses by the order and its members. So what have the canon lawyers been doing with themselves, all this time, especially after they’d been running the order for two years now? I have no idea … and I suspect they don’t either. So now that these individual investigations have begun, it would be unreasonable to expect them to be resolved any time soon. We’re in for several more years of waiting for word as to what they finally discover. In other words, the investigations will stretch out long enough that some of those being investigated, or the witnesses involved, will die off; at that point the investigators will decide they have too little information to make any determination.

Photo credit: Pliino Lepri / AP, via USA Today.

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IT07 2928 Pope John Paul II, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, AssisiContinuing its effort to divert attention to its dismal lack of action in the wake of the clerical child abuse scandal which has pummeled the Catholic Church periodically for many years now, Pope Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, John Paul II, today, as CNN reports (WebCite cached article):

Catholic faithful from around the world poured into Rome on Sunday as the Catholic Church declares Pope John Paul II “blessed,” a step below sainthood.

There were cheers as Pope Benedict XVI personally beatified his predecessor, and a huge tapestry protrait [sic] of John Paul II was unveiled, showing him as the healthy, vigorous and relatively young man he was early in his papacy.

As I blogged some time ago, this beatification had been preceded by a great deal of salesmanship by the Vatican, which included Facebook and Youtube marketing campaigns. They worked very hard to turn this into something other than the routine affair that beatifications usually are (since beatification is merely another step on the road to the final destination of canonization or sainthood).

At any rate, it’s remarkable that the man who sat atop the Church while the “priestly pedophilia” scandal was brewing — and who was the architect of its policy of refusing to respond to it and refusing to do anything about it — is now “the Blessed John Paul II” and soon will become “Saint John Paul II.” It also comes almost exactly one year after the Vatican seized the priestly order known as the Legion of Christ, because of irregularities in how it was run and because its deceased founder had been discovered to be a sick, amoral degenerate (cached) operating under cover of the order. What makes this remarkable is that the Legion of Christ had been favored by John Paul, was heavily patronized and promoted by him, and even protected by him in the late ’90s and early ’00s when word of its degeneracy started leaking out.

One is forced to ask whether or not John Paul can possibly be thought of as a “blessed” or even “saintly” character, given these facts. The Vatican denies John Paul’s involvement in the corruption of the Legion of Christ; while it’s probably true that he didn’t know everything that order or its founder were up to, it’s still the case that he worked to hinder investigations into it, meaning that he didn’t want them exposed. That’s hardly “saintly” behavior.

Photo credit: Templar1307.

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Rev. Marcial Maciel Degallado (2004)In addition to all the bad news that’s broken about the Roman Catholic Church … during the last couple months, as well as the last few years … a single, multinational Catholic scandal has been brewing since the late 90s. It involves a Catholic clerical order known as the Legionaries of Christ; specifically the reprehensible lifestyle of the order’s founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado. Maciel had once been a favorite of Pope John Paul II — in spite of scandals and rumors that swirled about him for decades — but after that pope’s death, the scandals became impossible for the Vatican to ignore. After several years of investigations and various forms of hyperbureaucratic procrastinations, the Vatican has finally had enough of the late Rev Maciel’s order, and is taking it over. The Hartford Courant reports on this latest development (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican’s decision to assume leadership of the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ won acceptance Sunday from the order itself and praise from those who abandoned the conservative movement now discredited by revelations that its founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least one child. …

The reaction came a day after the Vatican issued an extraordinarily blunt statement about Maciel and the religious order once championed by Pope John Paul II for its orthodoxy and ability to attract new vocations at a time when the number of priests was falling drastically.

The Vatican on Saturday announced that Pope Benedict XVI would name a papal delegate to govern the order and that a special commission would study its founding constitutions to reform it. The decisions were made after five Vatican investigators reported to the pope about their eight-month global inquiry into the order after its late founder was so thoroughly discredited by revelations of his double life.

In announcing the papal takeover, the Vatican excoriated Maciel for creating a “system of power” built on silence, deceit and obedience that enabled him to lead a double life “devoid of any scruples and authentic sense of religion” and allowed him to abuse young boys unchecked.

Maciel, his order, and its lay arm the Regnum Christi had gotten away with a great deal for a very long time, especially under John Paul II, who admired Maciel’s apparent militant dogmatism. But no amount of Vatican favoritism could protect the Legion forever.

The Courant has been beating the drum of Maciel’s wrongdoing for many years now, having run a number of stories on him. Most of that time the paper had been accused of being “anti-Catholic” and harassing an old man … but most of the accusations leveled at him turn out to have been accepted as true — by the very same Vatican which once had been reluctant even to consider them! Here are some of these stories the Courant has run (cached list):

Of course, the Courant‘s Vatican-admitted veracity on the matter of Rev. Marcial Maciel Degallado will not dissuade those who continue to whine about it being an “anti-Catholic” paper when it comes to its coverage of other matters, such as that of Dr. George Reardon, the late pedophile doctor whom even now — in death — the archdiocese of Hartford (which runs the hospital he’d worked for) continues to spend lots of money and political capital actively defending (cached article). To those folks, no amount of criticism can ever be leveled at their Church … not even truthful information. To them, nothing negative about the Catholic Church, no matter how much veracity it might have, can be reported about it. It’s impermissible to these people. Their Church is sacred, holy, and perfect … and the only reason anyone might have to say even the slightest bad things about it, are avowed “anti-Catholics.”

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