Saturday, July 18, 2020


If he qualified for a quick laizization, I won’t begrudge him that. But a lavish huge wedding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral? I don’t think so.

If Covid-19 dictates you can only have 10 people at a wedding or funeral, shouldn’t canon law dictate how these weddings should be witnessed?

What is your humble opinion?

Fox News priest Jonathan Morris is engaged to be married, can reveal.
The Fox News religion contributor and former New York pastor proposed to ABC News producer Kaitlyn Folmer, 37, last month and are expected to wed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
This comes a year after Morris, 47, announced he was leaving the Catholic church because he regretted ‘not being able to marry and have a family.’
Fox News priest Jonathan Morris is engaged to be married, can reveal.
The Fox News religion contributor and former New York pastor proposed to ABC News producer Kaitlyn Folmer, 37, last month and are expected to wed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
This comes a year after Morris, 47, announced he was leaving the Catholic church because he regretted ‘not being able to marry and have a family.’


Pierre said...

I guess we should be happy he is marrying a woman and is interested in having a family.

Speaking from experience said...

My husband left the priesthood. To make a long process very brief, we were married civily but lived as brother and sister until we could be married in the Church. The EXHAUSTIVE process of endless interviews and paperwork took 8 years. We were then married in the Church. This was also in NY State but a different diocese than the one Saint Patrick's is located in. How this guy is able to get married in Saint Patrick's is troubling. Perhaps he was granted an accelerated dispensation, but I can't see that happening, unless someone pulled some Strings or the rules are different under Pope Francis.

I'm just scratching my head.

Fr. Michael Kavanaugh said...

My now-deceased brother in law was also a priest, a monk at the Trappist monastery at Conyers, Georgia.

He was also laicized through proper channels. The whole process took him about two years I think.

Under John Paul II the process for granting these became far more difficult and lenghty. He did not favor granting laicizations in general. Some of the rules were changed - a priest could not be forced out without accepting the act unless there was a canonical trial. Unfortunately this aspect made it difficult for bishops to remove quickly priests who were known to be abusers or who was, for other reasons, unfit for the priesthood.

ByzRus said...

Possibly, his discernment didn't lead him to this conclusion at the time. Life is constantly evolving, and over time, he concluded that the priesthood was not his true vocation. Prior to the marriage bans being lifted, not a few seminarians left the Eastern Churches for Orthodoxy given their desire to also be married and have families. Of course, this was always the tradition in the east so, such a desire was not wholly unreasonable. If this is his true vocation, would not the Church prefer to have a good, married family man rather than a bad, uncommitted priest?

As for St. Patrick's, to me, this seems somehow to be an abuse. If, for example, he had been ordained there, it seems contrary to the indelible mark that he received, per Roman tradition, to permit the sacrament of marriage to also be administered on the spot where he received holy orders (perhaps I am way off base here). I say this as he knew what he was signing up for when he received the call for ordination. That said, a private, simple and dignified administration of the sacrament of matrimony seems, at least to me, more appropriate. In other words, let's not make a spectacle out if the way he has chosen his path in life.

rcg said...

What is the rank of sacraments? Why is it so easy to discern one’s way out of Holy Orders into marriage? The person that posted of her husbands laicization seems correct to me. The same would go for annulment and divorce. This former priest seems to be unsure of himself and addicted to the attention of others.

Anonymous said...

Although I am a fairly traditional Catholic, why make it difficult for a priest to leave if the priest believes he is no longer suited for the ministry after a period of reflection?

Speaking from experience said...

Father Kavanaugh speaks the truth when he says John Paul II was not in favor of laicizations. We did our process when John Paul II was Pope. We finished our interviews and paperwork which took maybe 3 years tops. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Through some contacts we were told that John Paul II was not granting laicizations. When Benedict was elected Pope he granted it within 6 months time, after we had given up hope of ever getting it at all.

Speaking from experience said...

I would also like to add to anonymous 12:52 that you are correct in your assessment. Our long process was what my husband and I would joke was EXTREME discernment. We tried to make the best of it and use the time to strengthen our individual relationships with God and with each other. It was difficult in the waiting as well as discouraging at times. My belief is there should be a " reasonable" period of reflection guided by someone in authority to help in the discernment process. Once that period is concluded and it is determined the priest should be Laicized, it should be granted again within a reasonable time frame.

Fr. Michael Kavanaugh said...

The ironic thing is, if a priest is a believer in the Church's teaching, maintains himself and his parish in a exceptional manner, is well-regarded and admired, yet sought laicization, his process could be excruciating.

On the other hand, were a priest to state that he denies the Trinity, he could be laicized promptly, possibly in the time it takes to complete the forms and letters, mail them to Rome, and recieve a reply.

As for the "ranking" of the Sacraments, Baptism ranks ahead of all.

"CCC 1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism."

"CCC 1236 The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the candidates and the assembly with the revealed truth and elicits the response of faith, which is inseparable from Baptism. Indeed Baptism is "the sacrament of faith" in a particular way, since it is the sacramental entry into the life of faith."

Anonymous said...

I see Father Kavanaugh is telling us what he is not!

Anonymous said...

The ironic thing is, if a married man is a believer in the Church's teaching, maintains himself and his marriage in a exceptional manner, is well-regarded and admired, yet sought an annulment, his process could be excruciating.

On the other hand, were a married man to state that he denies the validity of marriage, he could have his marriage annulled promptly, possibly in the time it takes to complete the forms and letters, mail them to the diocese, and recieve a reply.

This is why this works this way.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Anon 9:45 - Only if that "denial" exists from the time of the marriage.

In the case of a person who "denies the validity of his marriage," a formal case, somewhat lengthy and potentially excruciating, would have to be opened and adjudicated as any formal case would. It would not be quicker than any other formal case.

A "quick" process can proceed if there is a "Defect of Form" - the Catholic party does not follow the standard form for the marriage of a Catholic. Say, for instance, a Catholic marries someone in the presence of a Justice of the Peace or Judge. That Catholic, because he/she did not follow the "form" required for a Catholic to marry, would be able to apply for a decree of nullity via the defect of form process.

Speaking from experience said...

Anonymous 9:09AM

The pot shot was not called for. If you don't like Father Kavanaugh that is your right, but he has provided this thread with valuable information for anyone who chooses to accept it. Challenge the information if you want, but please stop disrespecting him.

Richard M. Sawicki said...

I suspect the sad truth is that this man NEVER TRULY had a calling or vocation to the priesthood to begin with. Oftentimes, a Catholic layman who evinces a greater-than-ordinary level of personal piety ends up being convinced by well-meaning family members and friends that they have a priestly calling, which, on a purely emotional level, is a hard to phenomenon to fight against ("You men you want to break your poor mother's/grandmother's heart and not 'answer God's call'?")

Mr. Morris' continual public statements regarding his desire for a family probably indicate that his TRUE vocation is, and always was, to be a husband and father.

As for his getting married in the same cathedral where he received ordination... if his laicization was canonically proper and valid, I don't see why that should be an issue.

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course laiciszation is not the same as annulment. The old saying is that the priest was "reduced" to the lay state and thus released from the vow/promise of celibacy and obedience and if applicable poverty. So once validly ordained a priest, always a priest and in an emergency Jonathan can offer the last rites including the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, aka, extreme unction.

What bothers me about Jonathan is that he has left the active practicing of the priesthood, not the Church, in a public way maintaining his contract with FOX to comment on things religious but now as a layperson. And now publicly making a scene with his new love and having a wedding at St. Patrick's. He is still a priest, although reduced to the lay state and bishops should consider the scandal this gives to some (not many anymore, but to some).

Pierre said...

Father McDonald,

Agree with your statement. He should be more circumspect. I know a few non active priests and they are very closed lipped about leaving the priesthood. One gentlemen, is particularly faithful about practicing his Catholic faith.

John Nolan said...

I am not a Canon lawyer so would appreciate comments from those more qualified than I. As I understand it, the Apostolic See (in effect the Pope) can laicize a priest either as a penalty (ad poenam) or following a request (pro gratia). In both cases laicization is usually accompanied by a dispensation from celibacy and from reciting the Office.

If Mr Morris has been granted laicization on those terms he is free to marry.

Those priests who in the 1980s left the priesthood to get married usually laicized themselves and contracted a civil marriage. Since Holy Orders is a diriment impediment to matrimony, such marriages in the eyes of the Church are invalid. If such a priest wanted to return to the active ministry he could theoretically do so providing he separated from his 'wife' (concubine) and was properly penitent.

For Mr Morris there is no way back as long as his spouse still lives.

Speaking from experience said...

I agree with what bothers Father McDonald. Neither my husband nor I ever felt any need to disclose his background, with the exception of close family members who already knew. Discretion to avoid scandalizing people, especially at the time we went through the process was of utmost importance to us.

Fr Mike said...

Jonathan Morris was a religious community priest, a Legionary of Christ, left that community, was incardinated into the Archdiocese of New York, and served there as a priest until his decision to leave the priesthood to marry. He recounted a story that he once had spoken as a seminarian with the Founder, Fr. Maciel, about his attraction to a woman and his doubts about continuing on toward ordination in the LC. Fr. Maciel, later disgraced and disciplined for his sexual and financial crimes, advised him to continue on, which he did. As for laicization, it once was required that a laicized priest relocate to a part of the country where he did not minister previously, and where his married status would most likely not cause scandal. Also, he was to speak to the pastor of the parish in his new locale and inform him of his status. Whether Jonathan can go anywhere where he's not known, since he was on TV and probably even accessible via the internet world-wide, might explain a wedding at St. Patrick's. But it's supposed to be a nearly-private ceremony; perhaps the powers- that-be decided to overlook that part. God bless him and his wife-to-be. May they be able to serve Christ faithfully, to the end.

From Fr. Khouri said...

Jonathan Morris seems to live for attention, as a priest and now as a layman. I find it interesting that many priests who have left in recent history have been "famous" whether the were "EWTN priests" or self promoters in other ways.

Many were considered "conservative" proclaiming a more authentic Catholicism than a flaky brand. I am in no way saying that preaching the Faith according to the mind of the Church teaches is wrong, just the opposite. I am saying that when these men leave the priesthood they affect a group of people in the Church that tend to hold the Faith and must wonder what was wrong. We are all contradictions though.

I think fame, popularity and too much adultation can be the things that lead some priests off the path.

St Pat's and a very public wedding? Jonathan seems to still crave attention. But worse, something is wrong with the pastor of the cathedral if he allows this, the pastor being the Archbishop of New York.

TJM said...

Cardinal Dolan wants to be everyone's friend and oftentimes comes across as buffoonish. I agree with Father Khouri, Dolan could put at end to it, and he should.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I believe that Jonathan and the Archbishop share very similar characteristics when it comes to needing attention. There are many lasting examples. His presence at the Met Gala.....and I can only speak for myself, but during the last conclave to 3lect Pope Francis he gave some cringe worthy interviews that did nothing but draw attention to himself.

Anonymous said...

Dolan is a buffoon. I should know, I live in Milwaukee. Following the scandal of Archbishop Weakland, he could have cleaned up and cleaned house. He did neither. Put in his time until he got to New York. The lavenders still run everything.

And yes, Jonathan Morris, should find a nice little chapel, have his wedding and get on with his life. But Saint Patrick's Cathedral? What a mockery of Holy Orders and Matrimony.

Anonymous said...

This is a Dolan quote from a New York Post article on the Met Gala:

" I didn't really see anything sacrilegious. I may have seen some things in poor taste"

A little further down, same article:

"They were sure good to me. They were sure kind to me he added".

New York Post May 8th 2018

This in a nutshell is why Jonathan can have a big wedding in Saint Patrick's. Cardinal Dolan seems to have a high tolerance for things in " poor taste' as long as people are good to him, without any regard to the wider consequences of how it reflects on the whole church.

Anonymous said...

Morris has done it by the book, he has followed the rules, he has done what is right and good.

Yet, for some here, that is not enough.

Time and time again posters on this blog attack those who they say are not following the rules, upholding Tradition, or doing it "right."'

Here's a man who has done it "right," yet he is still attacked and accused of making a "mockery of Holy Orders and Matrimony."

He's doing nothing of the sort. It simply fries peoples' grits that they can't get what they want or make others behave the way they think they should behave.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't know if this is true or not, but one would have hoped that Cardinal Dolan would have asked Mr. Morris not to continue on Fox as a religious commentator because he had done so as a priest member of the clergy. It is not proper for him to continue in that job once reduced to a lay person. Did Mr. Morris get this from the good Cardinal and then reject it and tell the Cardinal he needs the job and the money as he begins to court women with the hope of finding a marital mate?

And then, once having followed the new rules for a fast track laicization, should not Cardinal Dolan have told Mr. Morris and his fiance that he should have a simple ceremony in a rectory chapel with no more than 10 people because of Covid-19 and common sense concerning previous solemn vows/promises he made?

If Mr. Morris did things by the book, the book needs to be rewritten.

And then when Mr. Morris finds a better suitable mate and divorces his wife that he married in St. Patrick's and gets a fast track 30 day annulment, will he get married again at St. Patrick's?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"It is not proper for him to continue in that job once reduced to a lay person."

I think what you meant to say is "I don't like it, so he should not be a religious commentator."

There's nothing improper about a former priest being a commentator on religion on a news channel.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

At the time he was playing the role of a former priest as he had not been reduced to the lay state. Cardinal Dolan had and has a responsibility to tell would be lay state desiring priests to cool it and leave quietly, especially narcissistic celebrity clergy who desire celebrity and fame.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

Pierre said...

"There's nothing improper about a former priest being a commentator on religion on a news channel."

It might cause some viewers to question his credibility

Anonymous said...

Let me begin that I have great respect for Fr McDonald. While he was my pastor he was very caring and very supportive of me and my family. I - and many others - would disagree with much of his theological interpretations. That said he is a fine priest that I respect.
However, his comments here are very, very disrespectful, judgemental and frankly unchristian.
How demeaning to refer to a priest that asked to be dispensed from the public exercise of his priesthood as being "reduced to a lay person". Absolutely no basis in theology or canon law for such a state. I spent 15+ painful years dealing with bishop and Rome to get the dispensation. That is another story of the sorry vindictive behavior of church leaders.
The final comment about Mr. Morris possibly a finding a better suitable mate and divorcing his current wife is unbelievable from a pastor!! why would you ever infer such a situation.
As regards the comments of the dispensed priests going quietly (banishment really!!) to avoid scandal. Yea, I got that too while the bishop was protecting sexual predators who cost the diocese millons. Go figure.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The reduction to the lay state is not my term but canonical. “New Dispositions for the Reduction to the Lay State of Priests Living in Common Law” is the 2009 document from Pope Benedict to fast track this “reduction.”
This it what it says in part: Cardinal Hummes pointed out, as an example, that Canon Law does not foresee any disposition enabling a bishop to reduce to the lay state a priest who has given up the ministry. Usually, when a priest leaves the ministry of his own accord, he informs his bishop, and, sooner or later, he asks for a formal dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, the prelate explained. But some priests “go and marry (civil marriage), and have children, without giving notice to the competent authority. In such cases, the bishops could not intervene, because this was incumbent on the person leaving,” he went on. “But if he who leaves does not wish to (regularize his situation)” it is a matter of the good of the Church and of the good of the priest to “be dispensed, so that he may find himself in a clarified situation, especially if he has children.” Before, when a priest refused to be reduced to the lay state upon his bishop’s request, “the procedure was long, and the matter had to be brought up before the pope.”

Mr. Morris, given his high profile, is the one being unpastoral in not going quietly. He does not need to be on the national stage any longer having sought and been granted a reduction to the lay state. And of course what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, many divorce because new and improved came by or was sought. What about the poor ex who is Treated so poorly?

I agree with you about the sex abuse scandal. Those bishops too should be reduced to the lay state. I presume you are in Macon and yes, I always enjoyed dialogue with those who disagreed with my orthodox teachings.

Speaking from experience said...

As one who went through that process with my husband, and please let me say first to anonymous that I am sorry your process was even longer and more difficult than ours, I have to defend Father McDonald when he says one should go quietly. I am not Orthodox by any stretch, but we had to be open to the possibility that my husband's leaving had the potential to scandalize some. If even one person would have been distraught or scandalized by " a priest quitting to get married " that would have been on us. Not that we were guilty or doing anything wrong, but there still had to be sensitivity. Now having said that, I won't defend Fathers remark about divorcing the wife he hasn't Wed yet. That was not called for.

Charles G said...

So did he leave the Catholic Church or just the priesthood? I'm confused.

Speaking from experience said...

The Priesthood.