Called out of the priesthood?

Some general thoughts regarding petitions for laicization, and a specific critique of Father Jonathan Morris’ recent public statements.

(Images: YouTube | Fox News.)

Father Jonathan Morris, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and former member of the Legionaries of Christ, recently has attracted a great deal of attention by publicly announcing his decision to petition for laicization and by offering a nationally televised apologia for that choice.

I would like to make two immediate points. First, God bless Father Morris, who seems to be a priest of sincere Catholic faith, animated by a strong desire to do God’s will. I do not know him personally, and truly wish him well and pray for him. Second, in his public statements on this matter, I wonder whether Father Morris has (unintentionally) acted against God’s will, causing harm to his viewers and readers, especially to other priests and seminarians. I am particularly concerned about the possibility of scandal given to seminarians and young priests, as I am a seminary formator and faculty member.

Some readers will note that I refer to Morris as “Father,” despite the fact that he chosen to present himself on Fox News as “Jonathan Morris,” wearing a suit and tie rather than clerical clothing. I use this title because Morris is still a priest, though he notes that his archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has granted Morris’ request and suspended him from exercising public ministry as part of the process of petitioning for laicization.

I do not intend in this article to say whether Morris’ petition itself is in harmony with God’s will. This is a complex and to some degree a personal question. Rather, I would like to offer some general thoughts regarding petitions for laicization, and a more specific critique of Morris’ public statements.

Called to a new state of life?

Is it possible that God might call a priest to petition for laicization? To quote P.G. Wodehouse’s super-valet Jeeves: “The contingency is a remote one.”

I am an avid reader of the works of Msgr. Ronald Knox (1888-1957), who among other priestly duties was called upon frequently to preach to his brother priests in England. In one sermon given during a retreat for priests, entitled, “Accidie,” and posthumously published in The Priestly Life (1958), Knox gives his own answer to this question, advising priests who question their prior vocational discernment as follows:

As to whether God meant you to be a priest, stop worrying. He certainly means you to be a priest now; your priesthood is contained, if not in his antecedent will, at least in his consequent will. You may have crept in under false pretenses like the Gabaonites, but he is faithful to his word, and he promises us the graces we need for our state of life as long as we do our part. He wants you, now, to be a priest, and a good priest.

Knox offers this word of consolation (and challenge) after a long consideration of the struggles priests undergo, particularly the temptation to doubt the discernment of their seminary years. Knox’s spirituality was strongly influenced by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who emphasizes the importance of one’s current state in life in the discernment of spirits and of God’s will.

A person cannot regard himself as a tabula rasa when engaging in discernment. Knowing one’s state in life, and the possibilities and limitations entailed in that state, help the discerning Christian to understand spiritual movements and the possibilities (and impossibilities) related to God’s will for him.

For example, for the person who is basically maturing and growing closer to Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit is strengthening and encouraging, giving peace, comfort, joy, and delight, and sustaining growth. The evil spirit discourages, proposes problems with the positive course of one’s life, stirs disquiet and anxiety, as well as sadness for things left behind when one follows Jesus, and generally prompts turmoil and the temptation to turn away from Jesus and to something else.

If a person was basically moving deeper into a life of sin and further away from Christ, the effects wrought by the work of these spirits would be reversed, with the evil spirit acting as a cheerleader and the good spirit stinging the conscience and prompting repentance and conversion in the sinner.

The practical effect of misunderstanding these movements is clear. One could easily mistake feelings of “peace” with the action of the Holy Spirit, when in fact a habit of moving away from God has made the influence of the evil spirit feel more peaceful. So, for example, a priest who has been struggling with his vocation, perhaps indulging in thoughts or actions that have strained or even seriously wounded his relationship with God (here I stress that I am not referring to any particular priest), could feel a false sense of consolation when he makes a decision that is against God’s will, namely, to leave the priesthood. He might experience a great deal of inner turmoil at the thought of remaining faithful to his vows, and mistakenly think that such feelings could never come from the Holy Spirit.

It is also important for priests to recognize that all discernment is imperfect, even the extended and closely guided discernment of their seminary years. Returning to the case of Father Morris for a moment, it is only fair to affirm that in his Fox News interview he points to a serious flaw in his own discernment, aggravated by the direction given to him by his superior in the Legionaries. I am not dealing here with the questions posed by such a basic problem of discernment. But every priest can find some evidence of flawed discernment as he looks back over the years leading up to his ordination. Such flaws do not necessarily mean one’s discernment was fundamentally unsound.

When a priest wrestles with questions about his prior discernment, as Knox notes, he must remember that the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders provides strength to remain faithful in God’s service and the consolation of knowing His will here and now. Again, I do not pretend here to address every priestly crisis, but only to offer some general thoughts that ought to guide priests during times of vocational doubt and discouragement.

Letting love conquer sorrow”

In his 1967 encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, Pope St. Paul VI affirms the tremendous value of priestly celibacy, at a time when its value was coming under heavy fire even from within the Church. In Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, Paul VI also addresses the specific challenge posed by priests who seek dispensation from the clerical state.

Paul VI strikes a balance between upholding the permanent nature of priestly consecration and the Church’s need to deal with priests in crisis in a way that will be conducive to their salvation. In granting dispensations from the clerical state, the Church is not endorsing the departure of the priest, but rather is “letting love conquer sorrow”:

There are some whose priesthood cannot be saved, but whose serious dispositions nevertheless give promise of their being able to live as good Christian lay people. To these the Holy See, having studied all the circumstances with their bishops or with their religious superiors, sometimes grants a dispensation, thus letting love conquer sorrow. In order, however, that her unhappy but always dear son may have a salutary sign of her maternal grief and a keener remembrance of the universal need of God’s mercy, in these cases she imposes some works of piety and reparation. (par. 88)

Throughout this section of the encyclical, Paul VI strives to balance justice and mercy. For example, he refers to such departures from the priesthood as “lamentable defections,” yet affirms that such priests “remain our dearly beloved brothers” (par. 83). The fault for such defections, Paul VI teaches, lies not with priestly celibacy itself but with negative factors either before or after ordination:

Their sad state and its consequences to priests and to others move some to wonder if celibacy is not in some way responsible for such dramatic occurrences and for the scandals they inflict on God’s People. In fact, the responsibility falls not on consecrated celibacy in itself but on a judgment of the fitness of the candidate of the priesthood which was not always adequate or prudent at the proper time, or else it falls on the way in which sacred ministers live their life of total consecration.

Whenever The Church grants dispensations from the obligations of the clerical state, she acts with “heartfelt regret” (par. 85). Paul VI states that the imposition of “works of piety and reparation” upon the priest dispensed from his clerical obligations expresses this regret, confirms faithful priests in their commitment to celibate chastity, and warns those aspiring to the priesthood of the gravity of the priestly vocation and the selflessness it requires (par. 89).

The possibility of scandal

At first glance, there seems to be a certain logic in Father Morris’ decision to announce and explain in such a public way his decision to petition for laicization. His ministry has been highly visible, including the authorship of books and articles on the Catholic faith, as well as his service as an analyst for Fox News.

He contrasts his decision with other Catholic priests and Protestant ministers who have more quietly left their ministries, disappearing from the public eye. Morris reports that he “has no ax to grind” against the Church, and that God is not calling him away from public life, at least not in the long-term. By offering a public testimonial about his decision, then, he can set the record straight, affirm his love for God and the Church, and chart out what he knows of the path ahead for those who have been his viewers and readers throughout the years of his priesthood.

It would be possible, though difficult, to perform a point-by-point critique of Morris’ public statements. The difficulty lies in the inevitable ignorance of important details any outsider must struggle against, as well as the need to strike a delicate balance between criticism of a particular public action and mercy for a man who has clearly undergone a great trial and who is trying to do God’s will as he understands it.

Instead of taking this course, I will offer a few words about the impression given by Morris’ statements, and the possibility of scandal being given, especially to priests and seminarians. I do this, fully acknowledging that impressions are always to some degree subjective, and that the possibility of scandal is not the same as actual scandal.

My impression as I have read and watched Morris’ testimonials is of a relatively smooth transition from the clerical to the lay state. I am certain Morris does not mean to make this change look easy, and in fact he makes some comments that highlight its difficulty, but the overall impression given is summarized by the following quotations from Morris’ Fox News online article:

  • “My faith in God and my love for my Church is stronger than ever.”
  • “In this new chapter of my life, I won’t be rejecting my past, but rather taking what I have lived and learned, the good and the bad, and using that experience as I take on this new challenge.”
  • “As daunting as all of this change is, I am reminded often in prayer that the most important thing in my life has not changed. As a friend recently wrote to me, ‘You’re still working for the same boss!’”
  • “For years I have preached and even written books on waiting in peace for God’s perfect plan and timing. Now I have a chance to live it!”

It stands to reason that for every priest who leaves the priesthood, there are many more who are tempted to do so, including some who are grievously tempted. It does not help them to see only the kind of spiritual soufflé presented in a statement like Morris’, one which so heavily emphasizes the positive aspects of what, from anyone’s perspective, ought to be viewed as a sorrowful turn of events. Of course, our hope must be constant, but Morris’ overwhelming positivity threatens to stifle in his readers and viewers that grief which is a necessary ingredient in any Christian’s thinking about such a vocational change. This positivity is especially strong in the early portion of his televised interview with Martha McCallum on “The Story” on June 10th.

Another difficulty lies in Morris’ seeming presumption that his petition will be granted. I have not seen him make any mention of what he would do if he were instructed to return to the active ministry. Setting aside the question of the probability of such a negative reply, it is certainly a possibility, and the impression given is that Morris has made an irrevocable decision to leave the priesthood.

Then there is the praise Morris offers to Cardinal Dolan for his role in the petition process. In his interview with McCallum, Morris expresses his gratitude for the fatherly way in which Cardinal Dolan has supported him throughout this process. Given the context, in which Morris unambiguously describes his decision as God’s will for him, the impression given is that Cardinal Dolan may hold the same view, also with no reservations.

Yet, given the seriousness and complexity of the questions involved in such a decision, it would seem that a much more qualified expression of one’s knowledge of God’s will is called for. And it would seem that any statement regarding the involvement of one’s bishop ought to include the cautions the bishop surely expressed about pursuing such a petition.

I have no doubt that over the many years of his priesthood, Father Morris suffered much and took his decision to petition for laicization very seriously. Yet as a public figure he is responsible for his public statements on this matter, and I am afraid that the impression he has given is that there is a relatively smooth path out of the priesthood for those so “called” by God. Perhaps Father Morris’ decision to handle his decision differently from other clerics by making public statements has not been as helpful as he hoped it would be. Perhaps, in fact, such a statement can sow seeds of doubt in the hearts of men who might otherwise have trusted in the constancy of the Lord and the permanence of their call to His holy priesthood.

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About Fr. Charles Fox 87 Articles
Rev. Charles Fox is an assistant professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. He holds an S.T.D. in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. He is also chaplain and a board member of Saint Paul Street Evangelization, headquartered in Warren, MI.


  1. When I saw the interview I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy. I think he’s trying to be faithful and maybe for the first time he’s able to actually discern God’s will outside of the brain washing cult that was the Legion of Christ in the1990’s (I have no idea what they are like now). I spent a full summer with them in the mid-1990s and the pressure to join was beyond immense. Thankfully my parish priest talked me out of joining, I could only imagine what it must be like to be completely formed by them. I don’t know how anyone could freely discern a vocation in the Legion at that time. No one can judge Morris, especially given his experience in the Legion.

    BTW Father, I don’t think “giving scandal” is an issue here. The laity are far tougher than clergy think (remember we aren’t medieval peasants; we’re teachers, doctors, business people, infantry officers etc. we’ve seen a thing or two). besides we are dealing with way, way, way worse issues than a priest who wants to leave, get married and have kids (all with Rome’s permission btw). To be honest, it’s refreshingly normal and wholesome compared to what the clergy have subjected us to these last 50 years. I wish Morris all the best.

    • I agree, Andrew. I *do* feel very sorry for Father Morris (I will call him that since his petition has not been accepted by the Vatican yet, I think). I know he did not make this decision without spending a great deal of prayer and personal anguish, to fully discern that he is doing what is pleasing to God and in accord with His plan for his life.

      Some men may dream of being a priest from the time they are young boys, and others may come to think of it later. I get the impression that Fr. Morris was more than a bit pressured into joining the L of C while attending Franciscan University, and enjoying a wholesome social life with the other students. It is one thing to suggest a young man think about the possibility of a religious vocation. It is quite another to put *considerable* pressure on him when he is still trying to discern what direction to lead his life.

      Fr. Morris is from my home town, and his family is well-known and cherished in the Catholic community here. He is a decent, moral, fine man – and a fully believing, very faithful Catholic who lives and defends his Faith. As you say, I think we lay Catholics can accept and sympathize with the difficult situation in which he finds himself, which is not entirely of his own making, without being scandalized. He has not committed any impropriety, nor has he dragged anyone else into sin and humiliation. Nor has he misrepresented himself or the Church in any way Personally, I think he is a very good example to the American public of an intelligent, faithful Catholic man.

      Let’s all say a little pray for Father Morris and all our good parish priests, who sacrifice for us every day of their lives. Our Church has been through worse times than these, and has always come out stronger because of the unwavering Faith of our leaders, as well as every individual member of the Church.


        • Thanks to all who have commented and expressed empathy for Jonathan. I completely agree. I believe our lives evolve as we mature and often in conjunction with our growing faith. We need our religious, but we also need lay religious in everyday life. As I have aged I have spent a lot of time examining and refining my calling and I believe I can serve God just as well in an informal manner by listening to Him and following His guidance

    • Andrew,
      You’re right in your assessment. Also, the element of pressure that Johnathan Morris indicates he experienced prior to his ordination is a form of spiritual abuse. I, for one, am happy for him and wish him the very best.

    • In my recollection of his interview on FOX, he displayed an undue nervousness while saying “I’m not even sure I should be giving this interview”. This is after he stated that one of the reasons he chose the priesthood was “not to disappoint those who expected me to become a priest”. If this subjectivity is egoistic or self-serving we do not know but we shall continue to pray for him and all priests who are continually troubled with similar issues.

      St. Faustina’s prayer for priests is very relevant: “…..protect them from the devil’s traps and snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests”.

      • From Morris comes from a Kong line of priests who, professing orthodoxy can’t seem to live in celibacy. John Corapi, and John Mary so beloved of EWTN, Alberto Cutie, another EWTN guru
        publicly and crudely left the priesthood. I wonder about this celebrity priests. Maybe to much adulation, too much hubris, too many groupies leads to this. These men hide their ambition behind their “love and fervor” for Christ. These are good reasons to not our Faith be formed by television gurus and go to our orthodox parish churches which is where we find the Church. The Church is not the media, Catholic or otherwise. The household of God is found in orthodox parishes, not in a studio audience.

        • Jonathan is a fine man and to his credit did not reference the vile and abhorant behavior of the many homosexual and pedaphile priests that have infested and destroyed the catholic church

    • You don’t know what your saying. I would seriously consider reading the testimony of Dr. Gloria Polo on blog spot. She was wearing IUD birth control and was struck by lightning. She has permission from our church to share her testimony and judgement before God. It’s nothing like anyone has read, it will help you see how God will judge all of us when we stand before God.

    • “(remember we aren’t medieval peasants; we’re teachers, doctors, business people, infantry officers etc. we’ve seen a thing or two)”

      If you think that medieval peasants didn’t see a thing or two, you don’t know much about medieval peasants. They were plenty tough.

    • number one he belong to the most sick and perverted religious order ever
      number two how can a man be truly celibate celebrating the new mass???
      number three the new formula to consecrate a Bishop who knows if he ever was a Priest?number four JPII Assisi gathering it doesn’t matter if you are catholic we all going to heaven right?
      etc etc etc

      • Perhaps it might be wise if you were to educate yourself and endeavor not to be so judgemental of an institution that has been around for 2,000 years.
        I will pray for you and for the healing of your mind.

  2. And what if the Catholic public does not wish to be a captive audience? Or even inadvertently positioned now as a de facto support group on what’s between a priest and his bishop (who in this case has not yet acted)?

    For any of our other priests in the United States who might be scandalized and tempted into un-resolve about their own long-decided and highly-valued (!) personal vocations, there’s a rough analogy presented to U.S. Naval offices before their commissioning:

    “Post-decision steadiness is more important than pre-decision certainty.” Fr. Knox, above, got it right.

    It’s nice to have such things settled–like indissolubility of marriage, which here involves more of the affected and possibly hanging-on faithful. What about them?

    Whatever the particulars with the visible(Fr.) Jonathan Morris, does a coast-to-coast audience really need to be briefed so openly on his crossroad moment, any more than on the similar-enough divorce cases now also routinely aired-out on talk shows?

    • (Fr.) Morris, as a public persona, conceded any right to privacy he or we may wish him to have. He himself outed his decision, did he not? I do not believe this represents idle gossip. Rather, we attempt to understand, to plumb the depths of our common human nature.

      From another site, there was this news item:
      “Today, J. Morris showed up on Fox News, commenting on the re-institution of the federal death penalty. Meticulously groomed, his style was metro-male with an androgynous hint in his dark blue tie which sported bright white swirls looking like flowers. His wrist was adorned with a big bold flashy watch. His suit jacket was trim-fit.
      After Morris ended his death penalty opining, Hemmer asked Morris about his change of state. Morris said they should discuss that over a beer. Apparently Morris splits his time between life in Ohio and life in New York City, so Hemmer asked for perspectives on life from both. Morris spoke about having coffee with his brothers. At the end of the interview, Morris delivered his main impression on change of state. He shared his discovery that our country is “big,” “diverse,” and “beautiful.” Which led me to question which rock he’d been under all his life. Certainly it is not the same Catholic rock I’ve been sitting on.”

  3. An article on Father’s Morris’s decision to ask for permission to leave the priesthood that omits any mention of his background in the Legionnaires of Christ is woefully incomplete at best. There is strong reason to believe that he was pressured into a vocation that he was not really not cut out for by some very unscrupulous people. It is precisely because of this that I am more sympathetic to his petition than I would be in other circumstances.

  4. Yes, I am aware that the first sentence of the article mentions in passing that Fr. Morris was former member of the LOC. The significance of that fact is not addressed at all.

  5. The real scandal is that the Legion of Christ still exists. Why hasn’t it been shut down already? I also wish Morris the best and hope he can recover and remain strong after putting the Legion behind him. With the abusive and manipulative recruitment tactics they practiced, there is no doubt that they coerced people into signing up who would not have had a priestly vocation otherwise. They would tell people to join even if they had no desire to… basically “do the opposite of what you want because that’s holier.”

  6. This article completely omits Morris’ ‘formation’ in the Legionaries of Christ. That was one shiny apple with a very rotten core. To ignore that is to avoid why Morris’ case is different from the norm.

    • I had a son in the Legionaries of Christ for a few years and have known their priests who visit our land occasionally. They are all wonderful men and wonderful holy priests. I have been to confession with some and to wonderful talks with others. Much good has come out of the Order and some things have been changed for the better. I know many lay people involved in the Order as well…. all incredibly faithfull Catholics and incredibly good people as well. I don’t like the previous comments.

  7. This is a well needed article. There are many who are praising Morris’ decision and also saying it was bound to happen, given his time with the LC, thus also positing all the dynamic on the latter, as though having been in the LC means one’s priesthood is automatically in question, essentially portraying Morris as a “victim.” The underlying notion is unfortunate- if you don’t like the priesthood, then you can always leave, and we’ll “support” you, and we’ll pat ourselves on the back for supporting one another. This should not have been publicized in any way.

  8. June 18th: …”kind of spiritual soufflé” I always felt that Fr. Morris offered shallow commentaries; and he never seemed ‘manly’ or ‘priestly’ – this is just my own personal impression. I will pray for him and I hope he gets some kind of help so he will be able to become who he is called to be.

  9. Immediately upon reading this article the battered question of Benedict XVI’s resignation flashed. First based on my experience in seminary formation Africa where priesthood generally offered candidates far better amenities than the impoverished village Fr Fox provides the best exposition to my knowledge on what a vocation is. Msgr R Knox whom I learned of more closely on this Site gives the most pointed response to the question, God’s Antecedent and Consequent will. The reality of Fr Morris. A notable former Legionary offered a compassionate studied account on his website of the brainwashing tactic of notorious Fr Marcial Maciel and that former legionary’s years of anguish allegedly first pursued then pilloried after leaving their seminary. Fr Fox adds needed balance though refraining from judgment on Fr Morris’ sincerity. Although not so in respect to Fr Morris’ good judgment. Paul VI held the fort against a tidal wave of outcry for radical change and priests abandoning their posts. Most petitions for laicization were granted. John Paul quickly reversed that policy and stemmed the flow. Whatever some Laity may think of their inured sensibilities to difficulties it’s the young man considering a vocation who is adversely affected by Fr Morris’ words on FOX as well as the ordained priest in doubt. As to Emeritus Benedict XVI the questions loom many condemning his resignation as cowardly. It may fall under what Msgr Know said. Whatever may be in his entirely unique instance of resignation and decision to remain at the Vatican dressed in pontifical white now issuing counter-narratives taken up by notable defenders of the faith we may be witnessing what is providential. That cannot be said regarding Fr Morris.

    • I wish Morris the affective maturity and vocational contentment he clearly was doing without all these years.
      But it’s a bit much having to take the same categorical certitude from Morris which he used to try to project on to his commentarian/analyst days on all things having to do with Catholicism and its intersection with our humdrum everyday life on Fox now as he seeks to carry that over to the abandonment of his public priestly vocation. This would by any measure be an excruciatingly agonizing personal struggle -led decision for any recusant Latin rite priest to make but to equate that to discerning a divine call on a par with one’s answering a call to priesthood is so self-serving, it seems to me, using the same public platform which he would not have had access to had he not presented himself as a priest who was confirmed in his vocation.

  10. I agree with others here that, as a member of LoC, he was very likely pressured and manipulated into becoming a priest. I know a couple of priests who left the priesthood to marry, and although painful for them and everyone around them, I respect their decision. As Paul says in the bible, it is better to marry than to burn. Or, to cause scandal. In light of recent studies that show 50% of priests do not keep their vow of celibacy, have mistresses or gay lovers, I respect the honest ones who leave even more. And the ones who don’t leave are doing a disservice to Christ and to their congregations.

    But I also have to reflect on the fact only the Roman rite requires celibacy of priests. Eastern Rite Catholics do not, nor do Eastern Orthodox Christians. I had never questioned celibacy before, but in recent years I have come to know several eastern Catholic and Orthodox priests, which has changed my perspective. They are excellent pastors, in some respects better than celibate priests, because they are husbands, fathers, grandfathers. It makes them more understanding, balanced and down-to-earth. And their wives are wonderful.

    In light of all this, though I have always loved and respected my Catholic pastors, it makes me question how necessary or healthy a celibate priesthood really is. And think it not surprising so many either leave or are unfaithful to their vows, though it is sad.

    • Saint Paul may have written in the Bible that it is better to marry than to burn, and of course scandal should be avoided; but the time to decide that is before being ordained. What next? “I am married, have taken vows to love and honor and cherish this one woman, but I am now burning with desire for another woman, and therefore I should be allowed to divorce my wife and marry the other woman, because it is better to marry than to burn and I don’t want to cause scandal?”

      “Eastern Rite Catholics do not, nor do Eastern Orthodox Christians.”

      But as I understand it they can ordain a married man a priest, but a priest cannot marry, and cannot remarry if his wife dies; and bishops must be celibate. Is the next argument going to be, “Well, it’s just too mean that an Orthodox priest who is used to being married can’t remarry if his wife dies, that’s going to cause ‘burning’ and ‘scandal.'”

      “They are excellent pastors, in some respects better than celibate priests, because they are husbands, fathers, grandfathers. It makes them more understanding, balanced and down-to-earth. ”

      I don’t agree. I have met many Catholic priests who are understanding, balanced, and down-to-earth; both in person, and throughout history.

      “it makes me question how necessary or healthy a celibate priesthood really is. ”

      It has been deemed quite necessary and quite healthy for centuries. Why is our era so very very special? And, again, you can apply your same argument to, “Well, it makes me ask how necessary or healthy monogamy is. And think it not surprising that so many either leave or are unfaithful to their vows.” “Well, it makes me ask how necessary or healthy chastity in the unmarried is.”

      • Are you serious??

        Marriage and children for priests was ended over MONEY, not Christ or some spiritual revelation.

        It was greed, pure and simple.

        I would hope our “era” is special enough to embrace reality rather than continue being willfully blind and ignorant about the reasons priests went from being allowed wives and families to not.

        Inheritance. Land.


        People really need to stop holding up celibacy as a positive only because it is what they were told. Repeatedly.

        Forced celibacy is THE number one negative about a life of service.

        It serves ZERO purpose.

        Open your eyes.

        • “Are you serious??”

          Yes, I am quite serious.

          “It was greed, pure and simple. ”

          Sez you. You provide nothing but shrill vituperation to support whatever case you think you have.

          “Forced celibacy is THE number one negative about a life of service.”

          Nobody is forced to be celibate, because they are not forced to be priests. There are otheways to serve if one does not wish to be celibate.

          “It serves ZERO purpose.” According to you. I would suggest that you do a bit more reading of the works of the many, many people who have explained its purpose over the centuries.

          “Open your eyes.”

          My eyes are open. What I see is someone who clearly has a personal axe to grind. Why are you so bitter about celibacy?

    • I totally agree! It seems to me that the celibacy requirement is attracting some men who want to find other men, or men who don’t have hope of finding a marriage partner and are a bit socially different. The disciples were married, so why in the world do we impose this on our current priests? I can tell you very blatantly that if priests were married and women more involved in the day-to-day matters, the scandals would be handled very differently. And, many of these situations may not have happened at all!

      • “The disciples were married”

        Oh? How do you know, apart from St. Peter whose mother-in-law is mentioned?

        “why in the world do we impose this on our current priests?”

        There are many articles and books defending priestly celibacy, going back to the earliest years of the Church. You’ve only to read them to have your question answered.

        “I can tell you very blatantly that if priests were married and women more involved in the day-to-day matters, the scandals would be handled very differently.”

        Women are involved in day-to-day matters. Haven’t you looked at a parish lately? They’re all over the place.

        “And, many of these situations may not have happened at all!”

        There are, sadly, terrible situations in denominations that allow married clergy, as well as in other institutions. You cannot credibly blame it on clerical celibacy.

        • I was a very committed Anglican before I became a Catholic at the age of 29. One of the last conversations I had with my Vicar and his wife was at a Christmas dinner at their home, on this subject. The Vicar asked me what I thought about it. It just came out ..’it seems like two vocations’ He agreed, then his wife said if she had her time again, she would never marry a Vicar !!
          She wanted him to be at home to read to his children at night before they went to sleep, but he was out visiting parishioners… or conducting meetings. She said she knew several wives of ministers in other Churches who were very sick with exhaustion, and she was quite sick too.. They have to have open home at all times. Not all women could cope with this.

  11. As an older Catholic laywoman, who has only a limited knowledge of the horrors of Marcial Maciel, and who has not personally endured the sufferings of the current priesthood, I imagine my viewpoint counts for little. But as someone who loved Jonathan Morris and held a great respect for his spiritual views on contemporary problems, and as a woman whose atheist husband (we have been married 47 years) always made sure to listen to Fr. Morris , I am much more than sad , disappointed, discouraged. It is just another example to those of us who have spent a lifetime being faithful to that early vow made to God—when we were young, when God certainly did not show to us, either, the whole path in front of us —–that our life, spent sometimes in blood and fire, in an attempt to be faithful to that vow we made—is a certain kind of foolishness—that we certainly could also have said –“Oh, sorry , my mistake.” And what does my husband now think –on top of all the scandals—this is, in his mind, just one more nail added to the coffin of the false facade of the church. But I feel a certain resignation—Oh well, this is just the way of this multi divorce, throw away world. Vows to God—what are they , really ?

    • Read your Bible very well. If you make a vow to God, you must keep it and so it is better not to make if you don’t want to keep it. You cannot be comfortable with your husband as an atheist you say. Pray!

    • Right on Marion. I’ve been married for 53 years and at times been very hard. I get the idea that Fr.Morris may feel the laity have less problems and temptations. I’d feel better if he’d remained more quiet about this and perhaps after he was laicized been a bit more open about it. I wish the best for him but can’t help thinking that celebrity priests are more tempted than others may be. I’m thinking of Fr. Corapi and a few before him. I remember Bishop Sheen saying that the first thing that may tempt priests is not putting prayer first. I think if Fr.Morris would like to begin being a good example, please withdraw from TV appearances for awhile because it appears that he’s just “beginning a second career” after discerning his first one was a mistake.

  12. the complaint that he was tricked into becoming a priest is like a grown up middle aged man complaining that his failure is all his parents fault. The fact is, Father Morris is a priest of Christ. He had two choices, get out because he was “forced”, or, give himself to the Sacred Heart of the Son of God, the Merciful one. The Lord said to me: “Is it not enough for you, to be with me?” Do we believe, He in in us and we are in Him?

    • Edith I believe I recall you’re name, someone who shared similar thoughts when The Catholic Thing had commentary boxes. If it’s you my welcome. If not welcome nonetheless.

      • I am always eager to read your comments Father Morello. God bless you

        I am always eager to read your comments Father Morello. God bless you

  13. Then should all those who remain priests of the Legion of Christ also feel the dutiful need for the same personal examination due to their own similar formation, the force contained in such being similar? Have the historical facts of often experienced priestly formation of much earlier past times been forgotten or now just unknown?…..often involving rather humiliating “slave” type treatment of seminarians by faculties and rectors, and shaming those or indirectly causing such to feel like failures in measuring up to the holiness required who make the decision to leave during formation. A kind of prior formation “boot camp”!

    What is good in these considerations offered in this case is that which has now become the somewhat similar expected public treatment in all cases… atmosphere encouraged where some who leave, esp. after holding on within extremely stressful placements for years when they should have had some relief, but nevertheless as they then decide to leave during a time of weakness they continue to desire to have their cake and eat it too, having one foot in and one foot out during a following marriage, holding on to the expectation of married priests as they were led to believe during seminary time….this going back to the fifties.

    Then, as here, they may wish to not betray their obvious attachment to their Priestly life experience desiring to “somehow” work that into their “next life” or “calling”. And we have many, with wives, who have continued this need into influencing the social causes of the day that leave a general distaste for the norms of the Church, or….even answering such a personal need/attachment in other groups such as “rent a priest” for those “followers” who wish to have a less regulated (cold) “spiritual” marriage ceremony…..or just counseling by such. So many serious personal decisions have morphed into a kind of “secondary” order of the priesthood….in as far as the public desires to more easily view such a calling.

    Who knows for sure in this case….but the treatment by the secularized/spinning media and what is now permitted for those in the spotlight to relate to the secularized public, having its own influence and even applause…..should be pointed out. Mother Theresa was reported to state that a truly desired humility comes through humiliations….not otherwise.

    • I am wondering how credible a vow “till death do us part” sounds coming from someone who took, and abandoned, a lifelong vow.

        • Except an annulment is actually a declaration of nullity, stating that the marriage was never valid to begin with. Whereas laicization does not declare that the ordination was invalid, as far as I know.

          • Doesn’t an annulment mean that there wasn’t a *sacramental* marriage as opposed to a valid one? Marriages may be valid but non-sacramental I think. I’m no expert on it though. I’m sure someone who’s studied Canon law could explain better. I know it can get pretty complicated.

            And yes, I believe you’re right in that laicization isn’t so much about the validity of the ordination.
            I’m just wondering that perhaps similar to the situation in an annulment, Fr. Morris may have entered into the priesthood without the formation that would give him full understanding/consent. But, I’m probably rambling on about things I don’t have any expertise in.
            I’m grateful in some ways for modern psychology & how it can help us better understand our intentions, etc. but it sure complicates things that used to be quite simple.

  14. For most, valid discernment with the Legionaries of Christ was not possible. Brainwashing was their experience. I have heard this from several current and former priests and seminarians of the order. It is an ongoing scandal that this religious cult is still in existence.

  15. Leaving the priesthood is essentially a dishonoring of a sacramental vow. It is akin to divorce but more damaging to the person’s soul. Ordination to the priesthood bestows a mark similar to that given in Baptism. One does not lightly place this in a desk drawer with one’s Roman collar.

    Wishing Fr. Morris the best. My personal sadness is best expressed by saying I’ve had a slap in the face, a kick in the head, and a piece of excrement smeared on my face by what appears to me as a betrayal of Christ and His people.

  16. The Knox quote is joyously clear. “Stop worrying … [however you got here] … He wants you, now, to be a priest, and a good priest.”

    Plenty of us married people have looked back and thought that we were too young to make a marriage promise … unduly influenced by our parents, siblings, friends, the times … ignorant of our spouse’s true shortcomings … et cetera to infinity … and yet, here we are.

    And we stay.

    Is God really “calling” this man out of the priesthood and into a continued life of public commentary? Seriously. Once he becomes Jonathan and not Father Morris, why should anyone care what he has to say? His platform then becomes the devilish one of a man who left the Catholic priesthood for some fascinating reasons which, when fully known, will affirm everything bad we suspect about the Church. He may become even more famous, yes, but not helpful.

    • Jean S:

      You rhetorically ask why he we should listen to anything he has to say once he is laicized. The answer: because he’s still a human being, a child of God and a fellow Catholic.

    • “Once he becomes Jonathan and not Father Morris, why should anyone care what he has to say?”

      I haven’t seen him, but if, as I suspect, he has been on television specifically because he is a priest (“Now we’re going to hear comment and analysis from a priest” as opposed to “Here’s Jonathan Morris, who is an expert on canon law” or whatever), then you’re quite right.

  17. The day a man is ordained a priest, everyone congratulates him and exclaims: “Hosanna in the highest.” Years later, the same man perhaps unhappy, probably disheartened and possibly depressed, leaves the priesthood, what does he hear? -What a shame, he is a loser. “Crucify him.” And we Catholics are the first ones to throw those insults at him. History repeats itself…

  18. This is sad in so many ways . But I have been reading a book by Father Thomas Dubay S.M.
    The book is titled, ” Fire Within ” about St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.
    This is from it; ” For some taking the evidence seriously presents a snag, since it implies striving for this same kind of transformation within oneself as a starting point for improving the world. Indeed, at this very moment deep and lasting changes in the Church are being brought about by a few who are burning interiorily as a consequence of the deep prayer given by the Holy Spirit , who renews the face of the earthin ways other then their own . These quiet humble , unassuming individuals seldom write position papers, and they are not likely to appear on controversial television shows or to attract front page headlines. They are not identified with any “ism” and they care nothing for the life of luxury or notoriety. They do not achieve popular acclaim by opposing ecclesial leadership and rejecting doctrine. Rather they are like the saints have always been. The burning ones are the unflickering light of the world, the savory salt of the world the lively leaven in the Mass”
    It just leaves me wondering where this story fits into this.

  19. I think there are many in the hierarchy who need to answer for the whole Legion debacle.

    The Legion attracted many young men because they claimed to be in total union with the Holy Father. In return, the Holy Father/Vatican fully blessed and approved the Legion and its founder. At the Legion seminary in Cheshire Conn there was a huge 6 foot high framed photo of JP2 embracing Maciel in the lobby (I was told then that Maciel was a living saint and could read souls, that JP2 trusted the founder and the Legion more than any other religious community). I was told that the Legion was the order most favoured by the Pope (there were certainly lots of quotes from JP2 and Cardinals heaping praise on Maciel and the Legion). All the while many Cardinals and other clergy in Rome (including JP2) knew full well what a monster Maciel was. The hierarchy let this lie fester for decades and as a direct result let many people get abused all for the sake of money, appearances and power. Young men and families trusted the Legion because they trusted the Church who blessed and promoted it. The Church betrayed that trust. It used young people to protect Maciel and itself.

    As such, Morris gets a pass in my books. It would be wonderful if he stayed in the priesthood. But given the absolute rot in the Legion and the fact that the Church did next to nothing to protect people until they were forced to; I say God bless to Morris. Like I said, the Church did nothing to help protect him when he was a young man. Perhaps now he’s actually able to think for himself and actually hear God’s will rather than the worm tongue of Maciel and his cronies. The hierarchy should be prostrate at Morris’ feet begging forgiveness for abandoning him and countless other men to such a corrupt man as Maciel and the cult he founded.

    PS: Don’t laud Benedict for doing the bare minimum by making Maciel retire after decades of known abuse. Benedict could have stopped Maciel with 2 phone calls: the police and the press. Instead he chose the long slow, diplomatic route while while young people were being destroyed by a Church approved cult. In the end, Benedict sent Maciel to live his last days in a mansion with his priesthood and reputation in tact.

    PPS: I’m still an orthodox practicing Catholic. I’m just tired of people blaming the wrong people for the ills of the Church. Morris is not the problem.

  20. This article reminds me of Father Fitzgerald. I was in elementary school when Father Fitzgerald decide to leave the priesthood. Saint Vincent DePaul’s Church, Miami FL. He end up being forced out of the Parish.

    I often wonder why so many Evangelical Christians question if the Catholic Church is a cult. These are the moments that define our Church. Let’s follow Jesus in love with love for Jonathan Morris and the Catholic Church.

    Say less and pray more!


  21. In his testimony Fr. Morris says that he struggled for years with regards to his priestly calling, often discussing it seriously with his spiritual guides. What I find difficult to understand is why he continued to build up his very public media career AS A PRIEST even though he was having these doubts! Dear priests, if you are having serious doubts, then please fly your plane lower, not higher and faster. And land as soon as you can and take your sabbatical to figure out what is going on. A person needs peace and separation from noise to see more clearly, especially when there is a murky past to be healed. But Morris the priest was building up people’s expectations of himself at the same time he says he was afraid of leaving the priesthood for fear of disappointing people…it just doesn’t make sense.

  22. The yearnings , thus the prayers of many for this priest could be serving as a
    counter/reparation ,for the occasions when there might have been the opposite , in the father wounds of desiring any one in similar category , who has been accused of any wrong doing , to be hounded and treated with harshness .The hope that comes from trusting in the Lord and not just the human optimism – our Holy Father brings up this timely topic –
    The lie in the pagan belief systems about God not caring enough , that we can be reborn as animals , thus the lie that life and its roles do not matter , God and His truth do not matter , hence the fear of death and its related desire to make carnality alone a worthy aspect of life , like worms . Islam too with its beliefs in the #s of women and boys to be given in ‘ heaven ‘ for those who fall for the the spirit of contempt for life show cases same lie and the connection with Fr.Maciel himself having been abused in his early years as well as the likelihood that some of these business entities and channels are owned by such pagan entities , thus can have adverse effects , unless very vigilant and protected through spiritual warfare , which , in turn might help many others , including the viewers as well .
    Interestingly , the truth that is esp. targeted by the enemy in these faiths also help to highlight the truth and its beauty and power , gives us in The Church .
    Thus , the desire to be born anew , given us in The Lord , on the many occasions of asking and receiving same in His grace , the desire for holy relationships , again gives us in The Lord , with all in Him .
    The need for the ministry of deliverance , including for those spirits of lust and fears and envy and such that come in through the media as well , by verbally renouncing same , as depicted in the Heart of the Father ministries is possibly a great need in our times .The priests , destined for higher glory in heaven , adding their priestly authority to same said to bring more help – let us hope that such would be the outcome of this situation as well , that we would have media itself depicting and teaching persons , if such is appropriate as decided by those in spiritual authority over us , to thus help many persons in the steps of this ministry , to deal with the rampant lies and its effects in our lives against the truth of the sacredness of our lives , in The Lord .
    May the graces of the Immaculate Conception , the holy , non carnal joy of the parents of our Blessed Mother esp.related to this event , fill our hearts , by taking in same , for ourselves on behalf of our parents and generations too , to drive out the death spirits and every related spirits .
    O Mary , conceived without sin , pray for us all .

  23. It’s better to be a lay person living in grace than a priest living in sin. Of course, a priest can live in grace as well.

    If a priest sees that it’s very difficult for him to live in grace, it’s better that he leaves the priesthood, otherwise he would be living a double life: apparently pleasing God, interiorly pleasing the devil.

    It’s not easy for a priest to live in grace. He needs to pray and pray, to deny himself, to avoid occasions of sin, and to carry out his apostolic works according to God’s will and not according to his whims and fancies.

    One way to help priests remaining faithful until the end is to meditate the Word of God and read lives of saintly priests.

    It’s good for a priest to ask himself in time of depressions, difficulties and temptations, especially those of leaving the priesthood: ‘How would I like to have lived when I shall be on the point of death?’

  24. The privileges of the Priesthood are enormous, both in this earthly life (there is nothing to compare to it) and then in the rewards that those so dear to Jesus’ heart (as were His apostles) will receive in the next life. Why would anyone turn their back on their good fortune of having ‘stumbled’ into the Priesthood, no matter whether by chance or by Design? “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.”(1 Cor 2:9)

  25. This is why we continually pray for the purity of priests. My own parish priest constantly asks us to pray this for him. It’s a tough world out there. Men are men and are yet, also very human. I am a bit confused though why anyone would feel the need to be “pushed” into becoming a priest if his needs were not truly met in his heart. I myself would not do anything if I did not feel right about it.

  26. Dear Fr. Fox,

    Your seminarians are most Blessed to have you as a formator and faculty member. Thank you for your great courage, clarity, and charity. And most importantly, thank you for devoting your life to Christ and His bride.

    God Bless,
    Jim Gill

  27. I think this is quite sad. Perhaps things might have worked out differently had Fr. Morris received a better formation. Some of the loveliest priests I’ve known were in the LOC. But that said, I do understand the issues there & Fr. Morris isn’t the first former LOC priest to seek laicization.
    God bless him.

  28. I am catholic.. There are a lot of priests that leave .. so Jonathan is’t the first.. He was a good priest, however, he decided that this is not for him ….. I think if you let priests marry, the church would clean up their act with all the gays and pedi priests.. All other faiths let men marry … It is just a shame that a good man that was a good priest left.. there is more to this then meats the eye.. a lot of inside stuff that we will probably never find out .. I keep my faith, pray and believe in Jesus Christ .. I just feel that the catholic church is letting us all down.. to many years of lies and coverups .. There are a lot of good men, and holy men that sacrifice their lives ,and time to lead the flock.. this is sad when a priest leaves, however he has to be happy and at peace… if it is not for him, he must move on.. that doesn’t make him an evil person … I wish him God’s guidance and love ….. and hope our faith gets straightend out .. holy men in power should not lie, or hide the truth … sad… but if you loose your faith, what do you have ?

    • “I am catholic.. ” I am Catholic.

      “There are a lot of priests that leave .. so Jonathan is’t the first..” Father Fox did not say that he was.

      “All other faiths let men marry …”

      All other faiths also have scandals involving clergy, too.

      “He was a good priest” “It is just a shame that a good man that was a good priest left.. ”

      I know nothing about him; how do you know that he was a good priest? Because he appeared on tv? (I don’t know that he *wasn’t* a good priest, but it seems odd do me that anyone would judge how good a priest he is or was based on television appearances).

      “he decided that this is not for him” “this is sad when a priest leaves, however he has to be happy and at peace… if it is not for him, he must move on..”

      Depending on how you define “happy and at peace.” Tell me, would you say the same about a husband who decided “this is not for him, he must move on?”

      “hope our faith gets straightend out ”

      There is nothing wrong with our Faith except that people are failing to live it.

      “holy men in power should not lie, or hide the truth”

      No, they should not. But then, neither should any of us.

      Is there a reason for your plethora of periods?

      • “TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?”

        “If it (the priesthood) is not for him, he must move on” you say?

        Well, then we should also allow married folk to marry, divorce and remarry and divorce as often as they desire. And maybe we can even go a step further and just eliminate the Ten Commandments. And then “we move on.” Where to?

      • Leslie you have many comments so you must have vast knowledge. Can you advise percentage of homosexual and pedaphile priests¿

        • Not necessarily “vast knowledge;” just a brilliant, incisive intellect, exceeded only by my extreme humility.

          As to the percentage of priests who are are homosexual, I have no idea; even one is too many. As to the percentage of pedophile priests, it is a lot less than the percentage of homosexual priests, since most of the cases of “pedophilia” by priests were actually homosexual assaults on post-pubescents.

  29. When I heard Fr. Morris was leaving the priesthood, my immediate reaction was not surprise. Instead it caused me to recollect a segment on Fox News a few years ago – a reporter was on location at what I would call a multi-day marijuana celebration in Colorado (this might have been before legalization in that state). As he walked and talked, he happened upon and recognized Fr. Morris in plain clothes. The reaction on Morris’ face suggested that this encounter was not expected or staged. My wife said to me, “What is Fr. Morris doing there?” I couldn’t answer her.

  30. The author presupposes that the Church and individual men cannot make mistakes, that whatever happens in the Church is God’s will, and that a man seeking to leave the priesthood is having a crisis of faith and is going against God’s will. The Church grants annulments to those whose marriages were mistakes. The Church can, and does make mistakes regarding ordination and so do individuals. It’s just as likely that this priest made a mistake and so did the Church. He says his faith in God is intact. Let him go.

    • One difference between marriage and ordination is that no man is ordained a priest without years of training and discernment.

      The Church does not “grant annulments.” That makes it sound as if they are declaring that a marriage bond is now null. Rather, they issue a “declaration of nullity,” a recognition that there was no marriage bond in the first place.

      • “One difference between marriage and ordination is that no man is ordained a priest without years of training and discernment.”

        That’s very true but in the case of the LOC, what type of training would one receive & how would that enable real discernment?

        • David was not discussing the LOC, as far as I could tell, he was discussing priests in general.

          In any event, I don’t know about the training and discernment of this or any other LOC priest individually.

    • Fortunately for all of us, God is able by grace, with cooperation, to bring beauty out of ugliness, truth out of error, and good things out of bad choices. If I had known what the realities would be, I would never have undertaken to found a monastery.
      I understand that the warped formation and despicable leadership of the LOC, the pressure to follow through, and the unstable times in the church and the world should be taken into account by those charged with discernment and judgment in this particular case; and, that further, we are called to show mercy and choose what will best lead to the salvation of a person’s soul (including releasing him or her from vows and the mministry). So, let those who have that role exercise it as best they can (Archbishop, Vatican, etc.)
      However, it must be pointed out that NOBODY really knows what lies ahead in their “vocation.” Not married couples, not monastics, not clergy. But if the sacraments are what we teach that they are, our ignorance (which is likely a blessing in disguise) and our flaws (the foundation upon which we can build genuine humility) do not nullify the objective nature of the sacraments. Thus, when we fail to honor our vows and dismiss the Divine grace given to us in marriage or ordination or solemn monastic consecration, we should at least have the decency not to dress it up as “discernment,” imply that God has called us to break our vows, and tout ourselves as public pundits on faithfulness. That is so wrong! If anything should be said publicly, it should be, “I have failed to live into that to which I was called. I ask God’s mercy, and yours, as I repent and seek to do better while relieved of what has become a stumbling block.”

      May God have mercy on all of us who seek to live into the struggles, sorrows, and sanctity of our once-chosen vocations; and may he have mercy, too, on those who fail. For we all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God, ever-faithful and ever-good.

  31. I read this article with interest since I am a laicized priest.

    Similarly to Fr. Morris, I was in formation under the direction of a homosexual predator. I lived my life as a priest among men who were predominantly homosexual and homosexualist. Those in authority over the Church who controlled my life were predominantly homosexual and homosexualist.

    I am living a much healthier life as a Christian man since I am no longer a part of a community of homosexuals.

    I hope, Fr. Fox, that you are forthright in formation in addressing the severe issues which exist today for heterosexual men living in the overwhelmingly homosexualist environment which prevails in diocesan seminaries in the US Catholic, aka the Church of Joseph Bernardin and Theodore McCarrick.

  32. Thank you Fr. for your article. As a priest I was surprised and disappointed to read about JM’s statement about now wanting to have a wife and family in his mid 40’s. The “change of life” hits us all at different ages and the “grass always looks greener on the other side” can be a difficult cross/issue to deal with especially if one is not being open with one’s spiritual director. I had gone on JM’s Facebook page and out of the 5000 plus responses over 95% were from women. I thought, is JM advertising to the world that he is now available? He is a good looking man and I’m sure there are many women who were in his parish just wishing that they may have the opportunity to find someone in life like him. Yes, priests leave with causing scandal and then some leave very quietly for reasons not made known publicly. That is what JM needed to do. Go away quietly and not become another water cooler discussion. At least for the time being he thinks he is since there is nothing out of Rome regarding his decision. As to Cdl. Dolan giving him support that may be true but when I look at the cardinal and all the issues he has failed to address properly I don’t have much respect for the man because of his lack of desire or inability to deal with scandal. If he is the source and sole support of JM’s decision to leave then I am not surprised. Finally I wonder how often JM dealt with this desire to leave during seminary and after with a good and solid spiritual director.

  33. The secular, unspiritual armosphere in which Fr. Morris, and his immediate Legionaire predecessor, chose to function, deprived them of the priestly exercises essential for a priest to fulfill his spiritual needs! (A history professor at Norte Dame,in a recent biography, u noted the same thing of Fr. Hesburg in rejecting Humanae Vita and his friendship with Pope Paul V1.) The,at least, six years ofI seminary trading prepares a seminarian to be the Church’s authority on the spiritual world and not to confuse this calling with being an authority and interpreter about the secular world’s clash with the divine authority of the Church in the manner of a priest saving his own soul!

  34. I was never a fan of Fr Morris (don’t like priests in general who are always in the limelight in secular tv. And I have heard that some of his “opinions” are not all that in keeping with Church teaching.

    So when he left, I only had harsh words for him (abandoning his vocation, abandoning God, blah blah blah).

    But then I read Steve Skojec’s article on Morrison and I must say I did a 180.

    The Legionaires is quite an evil cult. How its current members can still remember fondly the psychopath Maciel boggles the mind.

    Imagine when you are discerning and suddenly your profession is put forward 2 years when you told your superiors that you do not think you have the vocation!!

    I encourage everyone to read Skojec’s blog

    It exposes the evil that permeates this sect. So while I cannot say whether Morrison discerned it wrongly or rightly – one thing is for sure, he was under the tutelage of a psychopath.

    I hope though that whatever woke in his heart at that initial stirring may truly blossom perhaps at another congregation or maybe as a diocesan priest.

    As Fr Thomas Green wrote: never mistake a lack of generosity for a lack of vocation.

  35. My bet is that Morris is married within two years of being laicized.
    Married to a woman, very unlikely.
    I could be wrong.

  36. I am a Legionary of Christ. My name is Juan Rivas Pozas. I have been a Legionary all my life by my own decision. At age 13 enter the Legion of Mary and at 21 in the Legion of Christ. I read your comments on brainwashing in the Legion. That´s not true. In the Legion, we are taught to follow our conscience and to put the will of God above our whims. We know that if someone enters the priesthood through external pressure or fear, that ordination is invalid. That´s the rule for the whole Church. If you want to become a priest, you have ten or more years to consider your decision, but after that, if you make a vow to God you must be true to your word. (Salm 116,14) There are no excuses, less for a 30 years old man when we were ordained. In my congregation, all the doors open outwards, if you want to flee by day or night you can do it, but do not expect us to pat you on the back when the Church is waging a decisive battle against her enemies.

  37. “Christ, who has given the impulse to say yes, now wishes to hear no?” (JPII) I have no sympathy for a man who leaves the priesthood.

  38. The Holy See, after a thorough and lengthy investigation, should grant Morris’ request and dismiss him from the clerical state. However, it’s intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that Morris is still quite immature and for that reason alone should not grant him a dispensation from his promise of celibacy after dismissal.

  39. It was a huge decision that Jonathon Morris made. It will take an amazing amount of strength to make the transition. God bless him for his decision, and let the naysayers live their own life as they see fit. Who are YOU to cast the first stone?

  40. I just heard about Father Johnathan leaving the priesthood, so I am behind on this forum. I agree leaving must have been an agonizing decision, and I hold no bad will towards him. However I also, questioned the wording in his interview about Gods will. Not that I am questioning whether it is or not I just wish he would of not used that wording. I consider myself from what I call the John Paul generation. We had so much hope for the future of the Church, but Johnathan leaving is another example of the disappointment we have been hit with lately in the Church. I have watched him for so many years he was what was good in the church and someone I could show my children that young vibrant nice looking men are involved in the priesthood. I think what is so disappoint is not necessary him leaving. but our generation feeling that the church is crumbling before us. All that is good seems gone.

  41. This article by Fr. Fox is both kind and balanced. The points he makes are, in my opinion, spot on.

    Choosing to leave the priesthood is, by any measure, a tragic thing. Divorce is a tragic thing too. Sometimes, leaving the priesthood, as is the case with divorce, is unavoidable. Divorcing an abusive spouse, for example, is choosing divorce as the lesser of two “evils”. It is not that divorce is in any way a good thing. This is how I would characterize leaving the priesthood. Thus, leaving the priesthood may be necessary, in some cases, but it is always tragic. Let’s not confuse feelings of relief that come from resolving a difficulty, with what is otherwise tragic, such as divorce or leaving the priesthood.

    Those who are rather emotive here, it seems, quickly side with Fr. Morris’ decision as something positive, and they tend to defend his decision. I can neither defend his decision, nor criticize it. This is an internal matter for him, and something he must work out with his bishop. Regardless, for him to address the nation on Fox News about his decision, seems entirely inappropriate and imprudent.

    I am not questioning his intention. I cannot read minds or hearts. Nevertheless, I think he could have had far less of an impact if he first had resigned from his position at Fox, and waited for a time, perhaps two years or so, until his image as a “priest-public-figure” faded. At which point, he could seek to leave the priesthood in a far less sensational way. If he loves the Church, as he indicated, two years (24 mos.) or so would not have been long to wait. Given the way in which he handled this, however, how could he have approached his exit in any other way than to put a positive spin on leaving the priesthood? This is particularly true if he wants to keep his career at Fox. How could he develop his career at Fox as a tragic figure?

    Yes, being a priest can be a very difficult thing. Being married can also be a very difficult thing—an extremely difficult thing, in fact. Whether it is the priesthood or marriage, there are no promises from God that one will experience personal fulfillment or sustained feelings of contentment. If it becomes too much for a person to continue in either vocation, and it is truly necessary to leave the priesthood or marriage, so be it. Let’s be kind to those who experience this, but let’s not speak of it as something good.

  42. Had seen Father Morris doing commentary on FOX several times. Then suddenly saw him on TV in “civilian” clothing looking very much like a fish out of water. I later saw the announcement that he was suddenly engaged to be married, in St. Patricks Cathedral no less. It would strike me that is a frequent reasons for priests to leave the Priesthood. If a priest chooses to leave his vocation, I think it is better he do so quietly, with no fanfare. I also think a more low profile wedding would be in order. Leaving the priesthood, no matter the supposed reason, is not something to celebrate. I can’t comment on the LOC that he was part of. It does strike me that some people (of both sexes) are looking to “belong”, to a group, a brotherhood or sisterhood. Religious life I imagine is much like belonging to a club or a fraternity or sorority. Doubtless some find this need fulfilled in the priesthood. Until something else they want comes along and it no longer is what they want. Have not seen him on TV for some time and I wonder how his second “career” has worked out??

  43. I am a Catholic, and I take exception to Mr. Jonathan Morris’s advocacy, that the Church should remove celibacy requirement for Priests.

    Peter the apostle denied his Savior, and Thomas, another apostle refused to believe in the Resurrection account until our Savior appeared to him. These apostles and the others, who abandoned their Savior in His Passion erred and failed, as Mr. Morris. That is ok, there is still opportunity for his salvation and redemption.

    However, he should not be so vain as to want to justify his failure, as many of us have in so many ways in not only our faith journey, in careers and marriages and other endeavors, to blame it on the rules and requirements. Our Savior did not commission Jonathan Morris to dictate how Priests should be formed for the church.

    Other priests and seminarians should not listen to his excuses.

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