Out: founder of Zenit quits

The reason: serious differences with the news agency’s sponsor, the Legionaries of Christ.  Details, from Catholic News Service:

Spanish journalist Jesus Colina, who established Zenit in 1997 and helped build it into a seven-language agency with about 450,000 email subscribers around the world, said he had been asked to resign because he resisted pressures to identify the agency and its work more closely with the Legionaries order.

Colina made the announcement in an email sent to Zenit personnel Sept. 28. A spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ, Father Andreas Schoggl, confirmed Sept. 29 that Colina was leaving and said Zenit planned to publish a message to readers explaining the move.

Colina said one issue of contention was that Legionary officials were less than candid with Zenit about the facts regarding the scandal surrounding the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries, who was discovered to have sexually abused seminarians and fathered children.

Colina said his resignation was requested by Legionary Father Oscar Nader, the new president of Zenit’s governing council. The reason given, Colina said, was that “my activity in the world of Catholic communications does not demonstrate the institutional dependence of the agency on the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, an identity that will from now on be underlined.”

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12 responses to “Out: founder of Zenit quits”

  1. Some observations:

    –My first impression is that Jesus Colina is a man of integrity. Conventional wisdom in our society does not seem to value that virtue highly nor do we see that virtue as characteristic of media professionals. Integrity, however, is prominently mentioned in the Code of Ethics of the SPJ — Society of Professional Journalists.

    –I have never met a member of the staff at Zenit, but I have met two Legionaires. The priests I met were young, bright, gracious, friendly and remarkably courteous to me once I introduced myself as a deacon. That encounter, in a secular setting several years ago, reminds me even today of a typical encounter with missionaries of the Latter Day Saints community. Everyone generally admires the dedication and sincerity of the individual LDS missionaries but already knows of their “hidden agenda” to convert you to their cause — and a lot of folk don’t trust their cause because of its “track-record.”

    –Over the years, many local Catholic bishops had welcomed the Legionaires into their dioceses only to retract that welcome once the depth and scope of the scandal became public knowledge.

  2. Deacon Norb’s analogy with the Mormons is exactly on target. I have had that same sense in dealing with members of Regnun Christi.

  3. For some strange reason recently emails from Zenit end up in my spam folder.(?)

    I used to look forward to their posts on the Wednesday papal audiences when Pope Benedict would give an excellent “lecture” on one of the early church writers. I would download them for the course I was teaching in Church History.

    But, quite honestly, I was pleased that the relationship of Zenit with the Legion was not so evident. I am surprised that the Legion and Regnum Christi are still in existence. Maybe it’s because they have MANY schools and seminaries throughout the world.

  4. I always admired the Legionnaries, and I think that despite the sins of Fr. Maciel, their foundational charism is valid. So I hope that they will be blessed with fruitful ministry.

    Part of their effectiveness, I suppose, is “name recognition,” so it is understandable that they want Zenit closely identified with the LC “brand.” But I wonder if the identification, at this point will work in the wrong direction, namely that the LC brand will taint Zenit in more eyes than Zenit will enhance LC. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to leave things as they were, and let people become aware more gradually of the LC ownership.

  5. Forget Zenit.. as said above, why is the Legion still calling the shots about what it wants. I thought ‘receivership’ was in play… the Curia shows again it is short on getting things right.

  6. As a mainline Protestant I’ve always wondered about these special and secretive groups in your church. Why isn’t it enough to be a pious, faithful Mass going RC, who radiates the Good News wherever they go? It seems that these groups could (I don’t know enough to say they do in practice) encourage factionalism and undue pride/smugness. Sort of “I’m a super-duper Catholic not like those suburban slugs at St. Matthew -by-the- Mall”. I inquire in good faith, and have no bias against any group.

  7. I really, truly, do not think there IS a “solution” to the LC disaster. There is only a response to it: dissolve the LC/RC, assist its terrific clergy to other institutions, assist its fine laity (who wish it) to other movements, and distribute its considerable assets in accord with canon law.

    I do not even think that a “refounded” LC, made up of its survivors, is feasible. Mutual psychological victimization might be a shared experience, but it is NOT a “common calling” upon which to “refound” an order that was systemically corrupt from its outset.

    But, even today, most folks, I’m afraid, still can’t distinguish between the wholesomeness of so many individual LC-ers, and the perniciousness of the LC itself; therefore their admiration for (and sympathy with) such innocent persons keeps them from shutting, once and for ever, the books on that debacle.

  8. Re: “special and secretive”

    Well, first off, most Catholic guilds, sodalities, clubs, etc. are not secretive in the least. Back in the day, pretty much everybody was in one or five, and often a lot of fun (or prideful show and cliquishness) was involved. In response to the bad side, other guilds, sodalities, clubs, etc. formed which were more about keeping your piety hidden out of humility and to keep the club from focusing on the club. Opus Dei is a good example of this. Other newer organizations have gone back the other way, being entirely open about it and even founding lay groups that live in community, like the San Egidio stuff or some of the Communio people (sp?).

    Legio Christi has tried it both ways (promoting the Legio Christi order, and downplaying the lay organization sometimes until you join up). However, they were pretty much doomed from the beginning, because the members were good people but their founder was Maciel, and he was apparently always in it for himself and what power and illicit stuff he could get, and set up the organization to funnel power to himself and keep members from knowing this. The further away from the boss they could get, the better work their people tended to do. It’s sort of the evil twin of Opus Dei or a Catholic Scientology. They are trying to fix things now with help from the Church.

    A lot of people didn’t know Zenit and other Catholic media stuff was owned by Legio Christi, and felt this was deceptive. Obviously Colina just thought he should continue running a neutral Catholic news reporting organization (which is what it was, for the most part), and there seems to be disagreement about that.

  9. Jack B Nimble, quite a few Catholics ask the same questions. Only C&L has been completely free of scandal, among the modern lay movements. I don’t see them passing the test of time.

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