|Father Jonathan Morris|
|Born||August 22, 1972
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
|Occupation||Roman Catholic Priest; Television News Analyst|
Father Jonathan Morris
Fr. Jonathan Morris (born August 22, 1972 in Cleveland, Ohio), is a Roman Catholic priest, news contributor and analyst for the Fox News Channel, parochial vicar of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York City, and a member of the Legion of Christ, a Catholic religious congregation. He is author of the book The Promise: God's Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts.
Morris is the third child of a family of seven children. After attending schools in Michigan and Ohio, Morris studied political science at the University of San José in Costa Rica and then business administration at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. While in college, he began to consider the priesthood. Morris accompanied a friend who was considering a vocation himself to an informational meeting with a priest who, Morris says, changed his life. Shortly thereafter, the 21-year-old entered the seminary of the Legion of Christ.
In 1999, as a seminarian, he founded Compass, an apostolate of the Regnum Christi movement to evangelize college and university students. Since entering the seminary, he acquired separate degrees in classical humanities, philosophy, and theology, and was ordained a priest of the Legion of Christ on December 24, 2002, in Rome. In June 2004, Morris graduated with high honors with a licentiate degree in moral theology (ethics) from Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, also located in Rome. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the same institution. He was later appointed vice-rector of the Legionaries of Christ seminary, the largest seminary in Rome. Morris is fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian.
With the physical decline of Pope John Paul II in late March 2005, international media attention turned to Rome. The vigil that led up to the pontiff's death included interviews, reports, and personal reflections by a number of prominent journalists, Papal analysts, and dignitaries. Many in the news media turned to the young vice-rector for insight and perspective on the Pope and his impact on the church. Just hours before John Paul II died on April 2, and just a short distance from the Vatican itself, Morris said on Larry King Live, "We've been able to imagine -- in a very specific way -- what it must be like to be there with John Paul II. Because when you've seen the way in which he lived his life, we know he's dying in the same way in which he lived, which is a blessing to all of us and teaching us the way we ought to live our own lives."
In the days leading up to the Pope's funeral, Morris provided reports and analysis for CNN, Fox News Channel, the BBC, and Sky News, and he was interviewed by Bill Hemmer, Larry King, Shepard Smith, Anderson Cooper, and Christiane Amanpour, among others. In recognition of the enormous emotional outpouring, as well as the popularity of his own coverage of the events in Vatican City, Morris received offers from several networks to contribute follow-up reports. Shortly before the start of the Papal Conclave that would elect Pope Benedict XVI, Morris began working for the Fox News Channel. In accepting the offer to work with the network, he proposed to not just cover Vatican news events only, but to also analyze bigger news stories from an ethical dimension.
Morris' work with Fox News has proven to be popular with viewers, with many voicing to the network – and to Morris – an interest in seeing more of him. Since April 2005, Morris' work has expanded to include reports beyond the scope of the Vatican. He has been interviewed on several Fox News Channel programs, including Fox & Friends, Dayside, Hannity and Colmes, The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum, and The O'Reilly Factor, often from his post in Rome. He has also contributed to the Fox Business Network and Fox News.com's on-line news roundtable, "The Strategy Room." His work with the network has resulted in him offering analysis from a variety of locations, particularly those that had an ethical, social or religious element to the story. In November 2005, when Paris, France, erupted in violent and fiery protests by disenfranchised young Muslim men and immigrants, Morris travelled to the French capital and interviewed Muslim youth about what was precipitating the riots. While there, he also secured an exclusive interview with the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Paris.
In January 2006, Morris began his own blog on the Fox News website. He debuted it by writing, "Your notes tell me that you are not all Catholic, not all Christians, not all religious or even spiritual, but that you share my interest in, and concern for, preserving the traditional values that have made our country great; values of freedom, tolerance, respect for law, for one another, and for human rights, especially the rights of those who have no voice."
Morris began 2006 by venturing to Venezuela, a country known for its contention between the Catholic Church and President Hugo Chávez, to report on a populist religious gathering. Morris wrote why he believed this event warranted media attention: "Bad news sells. But violence does not occur in a vacuum, and if we wait for things to "happen" we end up with no explanations and no solutions. We lament and complain and wonder how this world got so bad. That's why in-depth reporting on social phenomenon, even before tragic images do the talking for us, is a serious responsibility for any news outlet. That's why we are here."
In early 2006, the movie adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, generated a firestorm of controversy and discussion, especially from Christian leaders. While many in the religious community called for a boycott of the movie, Morris suggested a different approach, writing that the movie might actually be a benefit for Christianity by forcing Christians to come to terms with their own religious beliefs. Morris wrote: "Dan Brown is capable of passing fiction for fact because Christians don't know their faith -- what and why they believe." This statement was widely circulated throughout the Christian community.
When given a tip by a blog reader on the legalization of prostitution in Germany, Morris travelled there in June to cover the country's growing sex trade industry and its impact on the World Cup. Later that summer, Morris interviewed some members of the Muslim community in London after attendees of a local mosque were arrested on charges of terrorism. He also provided news coverage and analysis on Missouri's hotly contested stem cell initiative Amendment 2, which gained national attention when actor Michael J. Fox issued his support for the initiative's passage.
In November, Morris travelled to Turkey to cover Pope Benedict's first papal trip to a Muslim country, a trip that was closely watched throughout the international community due to the controversy that erupted over the Pope's remarks in Germany earlier that fall. In May 2007, Morris returned to Turkey in the wake of the torture-murder of three Christian publishers to investigate the status of Christians in the country.
In December 2007, he debated Richard Dawkins in a BBC television interview Have Your Say on the effects of religion and atheism on society, arguing that atheism was behind the Holocaust, as well as the Stalinist and Maoist regimes—revolutions that persecuted and oppressed in order to create and maintain 'religion-free utopias.' In April 2008, Morris covered the Pope's historic trip to Washington, D.C. and New York for Fox News Channel.
In May 2009, Morris began a recurring segment for Fox News Channel's late night news/comedy show Red Eye. For this segment, called Father Jonathan Knows Best, Morris answers questions from viewers on religious and faith-related issues. He is also a regular news contributor for the show.
Frequently asked in interviews and by others, Morris comments that his favorite saint is St. Francis Xavier. "He never gave up, even in the face of overwhelming obstacles. He, like St. Paul, knew how to speak the Good News in love.”