Jerry Renner, former RNS editor and longtime religion writer at the Hartford Courant, has died. Jerry was born a Catholic and raised a journalist, and brought honor to both vocations, perhaps most notably in his investigative work on the Legionaries of Christ. He started digging in the 1990s, before anyone else caught on, and teamed up with Jason Berry to produce the definitive accounting of alleged abuses by Legionaries founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. That work allowed the victims to be heard, the truth to be known, and at least some small measure of justice to be done.
Jerry was an old hand at the trade and in the guild. He could spin yarns at the bar and saw through every imaginable tall tale. The Courant has a fine obit. The best part: A colleague recalls Jerry interviewing a local cult leader (not Maciel) who claimed to be Jesus Christ himself (with huge real estate holdings). The man told Renner, "If I blinded you right now physically, would you believe that I'm God?" Jerry shot back: "No, I'd have you arrested for assault."