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A Chastened Fr. Jonathan?

March 13, 2007

FoxNews contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris has posted a follow-up to his obsequious Open Letter to Sean Hannity. Fr. Morris’ UPDATE: Sean Hannity and Fr. Euteneuer has a more conciliatory and less sanctimonious tone than the “Open Letter”. Here is the entirety of the UPDATE interpolated with my remarks:

The avalanche of messages I received from all of you in response to yesterday’s column reflects the widespread interest in confronting difficult issues about faith and morality in a clear, respectful, and effective way.

Since Fr. Morris always likes to relay how positive his email responses are to his posts, I’m willing to bet that this rare omission of any mention of public praise is due to an overwhelmingly negative response to his “Open Letter”.

Indeed, we are in need of a clear and effective way of confronting difficult issues about faith and morality. One way to muddle things is to post a bootlicking letter to Sean Hannity, who publicly disagrees with the Church’s teaching on contraception all while flaunting his catholicity, virtually apologizing for a priest with substance admonishing Hannity for his inconsistencies and poor witness. Fr. Morris has been with FoxNews for nearly two years now. Has he confronted Hannity for his unabashed disavowal of Catholic moral teaching or Bill O’Reilly for his public pope bashing? I’d say the ineffectiveness is due to Morris’ protecting his high-profile position at FoxNews instead of being the moral and spiritual voice he is called to be.

While Fr. Thomas Euteneuer and I may disagree on how best to attain this lofty goal in certain venues, like on a secular television network, we are of one heart and mind on substance.

How, then, would Fr. Morris attain this “lofty goal” of “confronting difficult issues about faith and morality in a clear, respectful, and effective way”? By throwing a fellow priest under the bus? Fr. Morris, from what the public and Fr. Euteneuer can tell, has followed a policy of complaisance and fawning during his term at FoxNews. Fr. Euteneuer, who had requested a private meeting with Hannity back in 2004 to no avail, was invited by Hannity to be on the Hannity and Colmes Show. On the show, Fr. Euteneuer remained calm and concise, accurately representing the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Hannity threw a tantrum. Yet, Fr. Morris, so prepared to absolve Hannity from whatever sin committed, attempts to place all the blame on Fr. Euteneuer for this public confrontation. Fr. Morris embarassed himself and forgot about all the faithful Catholics who are begging for a stronger, more substantial pastoral witness from our priests.

Before publishing my original article, I communicated to Fr. Euteneuer in a personal letter this attitude of fraternal unity and respectful disagreement. I also offered to consider publishing on his response to my column.

I suspect Fr. Morris writes this because a number of people called him a hypocrite for doing the exact thing that he (falsely) accused Fr. Euteneuer of doing: publicly confronting someone without first consulting them privately. But I wonder if Fr. Morris waited to hear that Fr. Euteneuer received this personal letter before publishing the “Open Letter”, or did Fr. Morris hastily throw up his groveling letter to Hannity lest FoxNews associate him with Fr. Euteneuer? That “Open Letter” was posted pretty quickly. Also, did Fr. Morris shamefully characterize Fr. Euteneuer poorly in order to protect his own reputation and presence at FoxNews? After all, his “Open Letter” was littered with the sense of “I would have done this so much better than Fr. Euteneuer”. Does Fr. Morris suffer from an inferiority complex?

In a future column we can examine the specific issue of artificial methods of contraception (the original debate), and in particular, why just over 75 years ago, every major Christian denomination opposed their use in marital, sexual relations, and why the Catholic Church still does. This may be a chance for Sean to examine the issue in depth.

Or perhaps you could have had a private conversation with “Sean” during the past two years of your tenure at FoxNews so that he would have had a chance to “examine the issue in depth” before he began to publicly criticize and voice his opposition to the Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control. And now that the issue is hot at Fox, Fr. Morris wants to stall and save the discussion for “a future column”. And what’s more, instead of meeting the issue head-on in a “clear, respectful and effective” way, Fr. Morris wants to talk about the history of the denominational collapse in sexual morality. And we actually look to Fr. Morris as a clear voice for the Catholic faith???

Particularly interesting were the hundreds of messages I have received yesterday from non-Catholics, including many pastors, and non-Christians. In these notes you expressed your commitment to collaborate with both of us as we strive together to build a civilization of truth and love.

No apology to Fr. Euteneuer. No admonition for Hannity. Just cold, diplomatic, job-preserving double talk. One may well ask Fr. Morris how a Catholic priest can effectively “build a civilization of truth and love” when that same Catholic priest publicly criticizes a fellow priest for speaking the truth of the faith. And on top of that this Catholic priest relates to Sean Hannity how much better he is at being a priest than his fellow priest. Fr. Morris has been a disappointment in terms of being an ambassador for a civilization or truth and love, a real doyen of self-interest and self-preservation.

God bless, Father Jonathan

God bless and save you, Father Jonathon. You’ve aided the secularists in portraying the Catholic Church as a fragmented bureaucracy and a cacophonic pastoral presence. And to think that you are the vice-rector of a seminary in Rome. God bless and save those seminaries under your care.


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