Fr. Jonathan Morris speaks on faith and the media

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By: Catherine Troll

dsc 0047Fox News analyst the Rev. Jonathon Morris came from a broadcasting session in Rome to give a talk to the students, faculty members and other guests who packed into the Gentile Gallery of the J.C. Williams Center on Thursday, Oct. 11. Morris, who studied business administration at Franciscan before attending seminary, spoke about faith, reason and the media.

Morris emphasized that as Catholics, we should have our own aspirations while still being open to God’s will. He said if we are open to his will, then God will lead us along a path different and harder but more wonderful than the way we would have chosen on our own. Morris also gave a warning. “We’re living in a culture where good sometimes looks bad and bad sometimes looks good,” said Morris. “This often is most prominent in the media.”

His inspiration to consider the priesthood came from his former roommate. His career in media began when he got involved in the making of “The Passion of the Christ.” Mel Gibson put millions of dollars into the movie because he felt that God wanted him to do so. Morris said the movie-making process appeared to be yielding nothing but a total failure.

Being on the set of “The Passion of the Christ” was Morris’ introduction to the power of media. He shared one particularly touching story about a scene between Barabbas and Jesus that wasn’t going the way the director wanted. Though stressed, actor Jim Caviezel stopped and earnestly asked, “How can I play Jesus? What would He have been thinking at that point in history?”

“That is a question we can all ask ourselves,” said Morris; how can we play Jesus and spread His love to others? Catholics must be the very best they can be in whatever field God has called them to work.

“In the end, it doesn’t matter whether we’re writing books, or if we’re a doctor, a lawyer or work for the media…it only matters if we love,” said Morris. “It all comes down to love.”

He also stressed the importance of communication.

“Pope John Paul II took his communication seriously,” he said, following up with the story of Pope John Paul II, shaking with Parkinson’s and standing in front of thousands, tried so hard to speak to the people but could not. Realizing he had no alternative, he pounded the pulpit three times.

“At that moment,” Morris said. “He was communicating. He was saying, ‘I know you, I love you, I want to communicate with you, but I can’t…but I can!'”

It was around the time of Pope John Paul II’s death that Morris began working for Fox. CNN wanted him to cover the story and offered $300 a day; Fox also wanted him to cover the story and offered $2500 a day. He accepted Fox’s offer and was asked to stay with them for a while.

“I don’t want to talk just about Pope stuff,” said Morris.

At first, no one seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea of a priest for a news analyst; but he has been working with Fox successfully for seven years. It turns out people wanted a perspective on how to deal with everyday news in an ethical way.

Morris said throughout his talk that if Catholics can provide interesting stories, we can positively influence the media. People always ask why no one ever covers the March for Life. Morris said the news companies “don’t do anniversaries.” A Catholic involved in the media could find an interesting aspect about the March for Life next year, tell a fascinating story from it, and get media coverage for the March. Catholics can make a big impact, because “Catholics have content.” He said Catholics’ have the truth, and that is ultimately what people are searching for.

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