Glenn Favreau – A Conversation With Fr. Bannon

TESTIMONY OF A VICTIM

By Glenn Favreau,  (LC 1984 to 1997)

Is the greater good of the Legion worth all of this?

Four years after I left the Legion of Christ, a distraught mother who was attempting to dissuade her son from entering the Legion contacted me. She had gotten my name from another ex-member, since I was not at all involved with REGAIN at that time.

She arranged for me to talk to her son by phone before he left home for the summer candidacy program with the Legion. Her aim was that he be informed as much as possible. Research on the Legion of Christ had led her to have doubts about the group. I spoke to him about my experiences and he listened politely. However, he persisted in his intention to become a candidate.

A few months later, I received another call from his mother. Fr. Anthony Bannon (Provincial of the Legion in the United States, or Territorial Director in their vocabulary) had expressed his willingness to answer all of the questions that the parents had before their son became a novice. He had already refuted most of what I had told the young man, denying some incontrovertible facts in the process. He visited their city at the time that the young man was on his home visit and asked them to go to see him at the Legion’s house there to present their questions. They refused, not willing to entertain the intrusion of the few days they would have with their son before he would be cloistered. Instead, they opted to call Bannon when he had returned to Connecticut. The parents feared that their lack of understanding of religious life might put them at Bannon’s mercy in a conversation of this sort. For this reason, they requested that I join in on a conference call between them and Bannon. They chose not to forewarn him of my being party to the call. They had never stated that only they would be party to the call as Bannon later claimed. What follows is a transcription of the beginning of the call when I was introduced on the line:

 

A. Bannon: Hello?

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Mr. X: Hello, Fr. Bannon?
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A. Bannon: Yes, speaking.
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Mr. X: Yes. Thank you for taking our call. This is X and I have with me my wife X and of course Y. Can you hear everybody all right?
Mr. X: Fr. Bannon, we also have Glenn with us. A gentleman, with whom I believe, you are already acquainted. Glenn, are you there?
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Glenn: Yes. Father, this is Glenn Favreau.
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AB: Yes, Glenn, how are you?
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G: Fine, thank you. How are you Father? Last time I saw you, you were getting some very deserved rest and relaxation.
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AB: Yes, that was a while ago.
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G: Yes, it was a while ago. How is your health, Father?
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AB: Very well thank you.
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G: Very pleased to hear that.
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AB: Yes, Mr. X, I had understood that it was just yourself, Mrs. X and Y that were going to speak to me, this is a little bit of a surprise. Is there any reason for it?
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X: Yes, the rationale for inviting Glenn to participate, is that we have a series of questions to ask and you will be in a position to defend or refute some personal experience as opposed to our just having a question, so we hoped you would be open to having him participate in this call.
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AB: Look, Glenn, has, and myself, I mean, we go back a while and, ah, I am, um, ah, it is going to be very difficult if you are going to talk without bringing up some personal matters that I don’t think should be discussed with third parties, with yourselves, so I really think that I am not going to be able to participate well in the conversation. I mean, Glenn has made his, he has already spoken about his experiences and I can give you my view of those and I can let you draw your conclusions. But I don’t think it?’s, it’s proper, I, I don’t think I can do that to engage in a three way discussion here.

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X: Well that’s unfortunate, because, of course, the purpose of the call is to provide Y with the benefit of everyone?s experiences,

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AB: And, he has already heard what Glenn has to say.

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X: But not in your presence

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AB: He has already asked me the questions and I have given him the answers that I can, and I can repeat those answers to you. And there are certain things about which I simply cannot speak.
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X: Well then why don’t we go ahead and share our questions, and to those questions, then, that you choose …. not wish to speak, that will be your response.
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AB: No. I am very glad to speak to you, Mrs. X and Y, and you are free to speak to whoever else you wish to speak, but my conversation with you has to be a free conversation between the three of us.
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X: Well, it is interesting that you choose to take this position, because in fact this was one of our, in fact it’s the second question on the queue, is the Order’s unwillingness to answer challenges.
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AB: Yes, I’m willing to answer any challenge, but what I’m not willing to do, because of my personal knowledge of Glenn’s case, is to engage in a three-way discussion. I feel that I’m going to be put in a position at some stage in which I’m either going to reveal personal private information, which I cannot do, or in not doing so give you a false impression as regards where we stand.
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X: Well, Glenn is here and to the extent that he feels, then, that you are invading his privacy, he certainly can speak up and…
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AB: There are certain things that Glenn knows that I will not even touch upon and I will not even suggest; I am not prepared to engage in a three-way discussion that way because of the severe disadvantage that I am placed, and because I would prefer to address just the issues themselves. You can say he says this and I can give another point of view. And that’s it. But I am not going to get into a give and take with Glenn, because then it gets very personal. I don?t think it…
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X: There is nothing more personal than Y’s life, and that’s the reason for which we want to have this discussion.
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AB: Beg your pardon?
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X: I said there is nothing more personal than Y’s decision to join an order, your order
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AB: Y has come here. Y has seen. Y has asked his questions. If he is not satisfied he can ask more questions; the ball is in his court right now, but what you are trying to draw me into, Mr. X, and which I am refusing to get drawn into, is a personal discussion between myself and Glenn. I respect Glenn, and I wish Glenn all the best, but I am not going to touch on things that are going to, that I am going to be at risk because of perhaps my lack of control of getting into areas that I should not get into that may be more personal.
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G: If I may, I certainly have not intention, of, of bringing up any kind of personal
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AB: Yes Glenn, but you know
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G: no personal information whatsoever
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AB: Yes, I know that Glenn, but it’s you that is speaking, your experience; you cannot speak freely about everything to do with your experience in the Legion. I assume you do not want to speak freely to others, and if you do, I do not want to do. I really think that it’s a situation that we should not want to get into.
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X: Father,
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AB: For your good or for our good
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X: Father, I think this is excellent, because in fact, it is this kind of position that we find so difficult
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AB: But this, Mr. X, this is respect for person’s conscience, and it’s respect for the fact that I have got personal experience, some personal information that at certain situation, I know it is going to be very difficult for me either not to reveal information that I should not reveal, because I do not do that, or to give the opposite impression of the Legion. I wish you would understand that.
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X: Well, I understand that Y and I have questions
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AB: I am willing to hear your questions and answer your questions.
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X: All right. Well let’s go ahead and start with the questions then.
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AB: All right so, well it’s so how many ways are to this conversation then? I am willing to speak to you and Mrs. X, and Y. If Glenn wants to speak to me on his own, I am more than willing to speak to Glenn on his own. But I don’t want to mix it together here because we are in danger of invading personal privacy.
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X: Well, Glenn is here of his own free will
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AB: Yes, I know, and I am not going to expose myself to that danger.
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X: Can we pray to the Holy Spirit to join us here so that we don’t step on toes
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AB: Look, if we are here. We are talking about human nature here. I am telling you, I know myself. I know that I can be imprudent at times; I, there is very delicate knowledge involved here; I am not going to put myself in the position in which that I could fault in any way against the proprieties, or whatever you call it, the privacy of the knowledge that I have of certain things, certain people. I am not going to put myself in that position.
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X: Well, I certainly…
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G: Mr. X, may I speak to you privately?
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AB: What?
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G: Mr. X, may I speak to you privately, please for a moment?
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X: Well,
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G: Can you do that; can you mute the other phone?
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X: No, I can only mute my cell phone.
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AB: Mr. X, Mrs. X, if you want to speak to me and ask me questions, I am here. Glenn if you want to speak to me about anything, I’m here. Y, if you want to speak to me about anything, I’m here. I will speak to Glenn, I will speak to Y, Mr. X, and Mrs. X together if they want and that’s it.
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X: Well that’s unfortunate.
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AB: It’s not unfortunate, Mr. X. But what I have to protect is the integrity of propriety information and of personal information that I have. I cannot expose it.
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X: Well, we are not asking you.
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AB: Some people accuse the Legionaries of not respecting the seal of spiritual direction and the seal of confession, and you are trying to put me in the position in which I’m going to compromise that. I will not be put in that position; and I don’t care how you interpret that; I am not going to get myself in the position in which I feel myself forced to reveal things of conscience that I might know.
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G: If I can interject, Fr. Bannon. I don’t think that we have ever had a spiritual direction and I don’t recall ever having gone to confession with you.
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AB: Well, Glenn, you know your own case and what I am talking about. I am not going to get into it.
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G: Oh, I wouldn’t expect you to get into any private matters.
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AB: But Glenn, you’re speaking here and what we’ve got to be here is prudent. You have said all you want to say if there is any more things that you have to say to the Xs, any more things that you want to warn them about, do it. And then they can come to me and I can clarify. But when it gets into three-way, we’re in danger; I’m in danger of doing it. You might be much stronger, much more prudent than I am, but I am just an ordinary guy and I have to watch out. I cannot put myself into situation where I am going to violate the knowledge that I have of personal things, as a superior; I am not going to get into that position.
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G: I’m certainly surprised that you have knowledge of those things as many of those things that you are, ah, alluding to were, um, between spiritual directors of mine, and confessors of mine and the founder himself.
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AB: Yes, and
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G: I am surprised that you have knowledge of that, Fr. Bannon, I am very surprised at that.
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AB: Well, as well as that, there are things, and this is why I did not want to get into it, Glenn. Because what you are talking about is what you yourself individually did, and I just can’t get into that area at all. Maybe I just can?t get into it. You see the problem?
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G: Oh yes, I certainly do.
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AB: OK, well can you convince Mr. and Mrs. X of the fact that it is not prudent that you and me engage in this discussion at all with other people present? I can’t do that, I’m not going to do that and I don?t care what other people think about me afterwards. They can paint me as the worst ogre in the world, but it is not good to get into a position in which I am going to fault against my duties as a priest, as a superior,  as a director of the Legionaries of Christ.
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G: Mrs. X, do you have a way of calling me on my phone?
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Mrs. X: Yes I do.
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She called me on another line and I convinced her of the futility of continuing to try to persuade Anthony Bannon to relent in his threats. So I dropped out of the three-way conversation at that point. In all of my years in seminary and religious life – 16 years – I had never met or even heard of a priest who would employ the seal of confession in such a way.

Bannon had never been my confessor or spiritual director. By his own admission, any knowledge of my private affairs would have had to come to him through reports of my spiritual director/confessor/superior who had thought it licit to break these seals of confidentiality. I never stated or intimated that my being part of the phone conversation was to discuss my personal situation in any way. I did state, to the contrary, that my intention was to avoid any personal matters. Bannon’s insistence shows that this was not a danger the he was protecting me from, but rather a way to avoid at any cost my participation in the discussion through intimidation.

Those who read this testimony may judge these facts as they will. They may want to find excuses and alternate explanations. But Bannon’s intent was clear to me: abuse of the sacramental seal to keep me from criticizing the Legion. Of course, I was left wondering what terrible things I had done that could be brought to light and how my participation in the conversation could leave the man so flustered. What is it that I could contribute that he was not prepared to face? It is unfortunate that I must admit that this is not an isolated case when threats to divulge knowledge of confidential matters – private and sealed knowledge from personnel files, spiritual direction, and even confession-  have been used against members and former members of the Legion of Christ in order to control what they do and say. The blurring of distinctions between what the confessor-superior knows becomes a blanket excuse to use confidentiality and abuse of the seal of confession for what these individuals judge to be the greater good of the Legion. No one can claim that this is the work of a holy organization.

 

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