Fox News Contributor Is a Member of Wealthy, Ultra-Secret Religious Order

News Hounds [United States]
February 13, 2006

Last Thursday morning, FOX & Friends ran portions of an interview between First Lady Laura Bush and Father Jonathan Morris, FOX News contributor, who describes his media ministry by saying "I guess you could say that my job is to give special commentary on ordinary news." Morris, a baby-faced priest in his 30's, is a native of Michigan, who also writes an online column for He is a member of the Legion of Christ, an ultra-secret organization that many feel borders on being a cult. Its founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, was a very close friend of Pope John Paul II, a friendship that stood him in good stead in the 1990's when he was accused of eight counts of sexually molesting young boys over a 20 year period.

In addition to raising millions of dollars for the Church, the Legion of Christ, through an intensive recruitment drive, including a website called, has managed to do something the Church values even more highly: Recruit young men to the priesthood.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), acting for Pope John Paul II, refused to open an investigation into the allegations against Father Degollado until just before the papal elections. After he was elected Pope, he reversed course and closed it down again. Needless to say, this did not go over well with SNAP (The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests).

One cannot help but wonder if Ratzinger shrewdly manipulated Maciel's victims as pawns in the papal succession struggle. For years, Ratzinger ignored and rebuffed these victims. Suddenly, as the papal election neared, he reversed course.

At the time, some speculated that Ratzinger re-opened the probe as a calculated move toward the center, an effort to moderate his extreme image, and attract votes for his papal bid.

Now that Ratzinger is ensconsed as head of the worldwide church, he coldly tosses these victims aside again. Now, those skeptics must feel vindicated.

This decision is a severe blow to the optimists who had hoped that Pope Benedict might "grow into" his position, and somehow prove to become more compassionate than his reputation and track record would indicate. (David Clohessy, SNAP National Director, 5-21-05)

Father Degollado founded the Legion of Christ in Mexico in 1941. Since then, the order has grown into a very wealthy, extremely conservative organization that includes 650 priests and 2500 seminarians. In addition, they run a dozen universities and a degree-granting college in Sacramento, CA. They publish The National Catholic Register (not to be confused with the National Catholic Reporter) and Faith and Family magazine. Through a group called Regnum Christi they have included lay Catholics - men and women - in their ministry. Fully aware of the importance of maintaining a good media image, they instituted a media outreach program. Clearly, Father Morris' stint with FOX News is a offshoot of that program.

According to their website, the Legion of Christ sees itself as the defender of the Pope and whatever the Pope decides.

Legionaries seek to love and serve Christ in the Church, the beginning of his Kingdom on earth. This real, objective, and passionate love for the Church sees her as she is, as Christ wants her to be. This love brings Legionaries to meditate on her in faith, embrace her in obedience, labor for her growth and make her holy in their lives. Loving the Church means being in step with the Church, neither ahead nor behind.

Love for the Church brings Legionaries to support and follow the Pope in a spirit of ardent, personal love. They study and spread his teachings, and promote his charism of primacy and magisterium.

In a spirit of faith, they honor all bishops in communion with the Pope as successors of the Apostles and witnesses of the Catholic faith. Legionaries seek to cooperate with bishops in the realization of diocesan pastoral programs, especially education, the family, social services, and the mass media. They thus promote diocesan programs by contributing their own charism, which is a gift from God to the whole Church. (Foundation & History)

Father Degollado and the Legion of Christ came under public scrutiny after the publication of the book Vows of Silence : The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II written by two reporters, Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. Berry and Renner worked for the Hartford Courant, covering the priest pedophlia scandals within the Catholic Church.

Naturally, there are those who dispute the claims, as in the following excerpt from a defense of Father Degollado, published in March 2002 in First Things, a conservative religious magazine, funded by the Bradley Foundation (among others):

Common sense is also entered into evidence. Is it believable that, as alleged, a pathological, drug addicted child molester could have founded a religious order in the 1940s that was approved by the Church and flourished for decades, while all the time casual sodomy and other heinous sexual abuses reigned in its houses? And this without a word of concern from thousands of parents or any claim of such wrongdoing in civil, criminal, or ecclesiastical courts? It is not believable. Is it believable that men who are now accusers, who were then adult members of the order, would have testified under oath to Fr. Maciel's uprightness, thus lying to their highest superiors in the Holy See and refusing to mention years of abuse by a drug-addicted molester who had been removed as head of the order? It is not believable. The accusations are odious, as are the actions of those who continue to peddle them. (Father Richard John Neuhaus)


One wonders why FOX News would affiliate itself with an organization clouded by an unresolved sexual molestation scandal? Where is Crusader O'Reilly when you really need him? Why do we not see him night after night demanding that the investigation be re-opened and Father Maciel Degollago be brought before a Church tribunal to answer his accusers? Surely he - the defender of the world's children - could find the time to track down Father Maciel in his driveway, stick a camera in his face and demand to know the truth? Did he, in fact, have sexual relations with eight Mexican teenage boys, now grown men? Perhaps O'Reilly believes that, because Father Degollado is in his 80's, he deserves a pass on this?

When I was 20 years old, I dropped out of the Church because I could no longer stomach the hypocrisy of its stand against women. The more I learn of the depravity, collusion, corruption, toxic secrecy, favoritism, greed, pride and political machinations in the Church, the more I realize that, as a young student, I made the right decision.


For those of you interested in this subject, Rick A. Ross has collected an extensive list of articles on the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, both pro and con, at Legionaries of Christ-Regnum Christi. Mr. Ross runs the Rick A. Ross Institute for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controvesial Groups and Movements.


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