For years, Father Jonathan Morris was a staple on FOX News. He was a reliable conservative voice who always wore his priestly garb for extra authority.
He argued that atheists couldn’t be trusted as president because we didn’t fear “eternal consequences.” He got mad when atheists held a Reason Rally because we were “trying to thwart other people’s belief systems” (something right-wing Christians never, ever, ever do). He even said babies might die in a natural disaster as part of God’s Divine Plan.
Well guess what?
He’s quitting the priesthood because he really wants to have sex.
Or something like that. In a letter to his friends, he explained that the Church’s restrictions for priests — including celibacy and remaining single — had finally given him pause about continuing in his role:
While I have loved and thrived in so many aspects of my ministry, deep in my interior I have struggled for years with my vocation and with the commitments that the Catholic priesthood demands, especially not being able to marry and have a family.…
My decision is not about an existing relationship, but rather about the peace and spiritual freedom I trust will come in the future by following God’s will for my life now.
Crux has more on his past history:
Morris left the troubled Legion of Christ in 2009, three years after the Vatican suspended its founder, Father Macial Marciel, from his priestly duties, having found Maciel guilty of various forms of sexual abuse and misconduct as well as abuse of power. Morris was incardinated into the Archdiocese of New York with the support of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
He’s still technically a priest because a resignation letter doesn’t really count unless your boss accepts it. But that should just be a formality. If this is the honest reason he’s leaving the priesthood, then more power to him for realizing it and walking away.
It’s unfortunate, though, that it took a personal desire for him to leave and not the myriad scandals the Church has faced over the past several years. Kids getting molested didn’t push him to leave but a desire to have kids did. Still, given his prominence, maybe other priests will follow in his footsteps.
Keep in mind that he insists he still supports the Catholic Church and the rules for priests. He’s not calling for any change. He’s only saying he wants something different.
On the same day that The Atlantic published an article calling for the priesthood to be abolished, it’s only fitting that one of the most recognized priests in America decided to officially call it quits.