Morrissey: Father Francis Morrisey omi

Father Frank Morrisey omi

Father Morrisey J.C.D. (Saint Paul University, Ottawa, ON), PhD (University of Ottawa)

Francis G. Morrisey omi

 Father Frank Morrisey is an Ottawa-based Oblate priest and professor of canon lawyer at Ottawa’s Roman Catholic University of Saint Paul who has gained international renown.Morrisey, who believes it is “bad stewardship” to throw away the $250,00 invested in ordaining a priest by defrocking him, has traveled much of the Roman Catholic world advising dioceses how to deal with allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

 Father Francis G. Morrisey omi Curriculum Vitae

1983 – 2008 – ?:  Canadian Appeal Tribunal (Ottawa)

1985-2000: Consultor for the Pontifical Council for the interpretation of legislative texts

1984 –  2008 –?:  Titular professor of Canon Law, Saint Paul University

1984 – 2008 -?  Chaplain, Thomas More Guild, Ottawa

1984:  Along with then local lawyer now Justice Colin McKinnon co-founded the St. Thomas More Lawyer’s Guild in Ottawa.

1972-1984: Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law, University of St. Paul, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

1977-1983: Executive Secretary, Canadian Canon Law Society

1973-1983:  Judge, Quebec Metropolitan Tribunal

1975-1977:  Past President, Canadian Canon Law Society

1973-1975:  President, Canadian Canon Law Society

1971-1984:  Vice rector, Saint Paul University Seminary, Ottawa

1966-1973:  Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Canon Law Society

1967-1994:  Editor, Studia canonica

1967: Founding editor of Studia canonica, a biannual canon law journal. The first edition was published May 1967. Morrisey remained as editor until 1994.

(In the journal’s premier edition Morrissey ran an article by Father Bernard Prince, Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese of Pembroke, Ontario. Prince, who was convicted after facing multiple charges of sexual abuse of young boys dating back to the late 60s, was President of the Canadian Canon Law Society 1985-1987.)

1967:   Defender of the Bond, Canadian Militray Vicariate

1966: While still a student in canon law was a founding member of the Canadian Canon Law Society. The society’s first meeting was held in Ottawa, 3-5 October, 1966. Father Morrissey was elected Secretary-Treasurer, a position he retained until 1973. He served as President 1973-1975.

1972:  Doctorate in Canon Law

1965-1971:  Registrar, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario

Taught Father Charles MacDonald while MacDonald was a seminarian at St.Paul University (1963-1969).

1966:  Licentiate in Canon Law

1966:  Master’s of Canon Law

1965:  Bachelor Canon Law

23 September 1961: ORDAINED as an Oblate priest (OMI – Oblate of Mary Immaculate) by Bishop J.R. Windle)

1955:  BA, Ottawa U,  Bachelor Philospohy (Saint Paul U, Ottawa) – then series of other degrees from Ottawa and Saint Paul U,

13 February 1936:  Born, Charlottetown, PEI

On the speaking circuit around the world.  Has been expert witness regarding Church-State relations  in civil courts in Canada and USAHas assisted dioceses throughout the world mount a defence when rocked by allegations of sexual abuseTestifies on behalf of accused clerical molestersPraised by some as on the canonical cutting edge, denounced by others for his feminist sympathies and undermining of Church teaching.Taught Bishop Paul Andre Durocher (Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall). Durocher refers to Morrisey as “one of the best canon lawyers in the world.” Durocher has utilised Father Frank Morrisey to provide canonical assistance during the Cornwall Public Inquiry.

Father Morrissey contributed his canonical expertise to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in compiling From Pain to Hope, the bishops’ 1992 guidelines on child sexual abuse (“Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Child Sexual Abuse”) The report is currently under revision

.In the late 80’s, with assistance of with then Ottawa lawyer and layman and now a late vocation to the priesthood Father Jeff King, worked to ensure that bishops could not be legally compelled to disclose any statements made by suspect clerical sexual predators in the presence of the bishop.

Mentor to canon lawyer Father Tom Doyle

Testified at the Cornwall Public Inquiry as an expert witness 28 & 29 August 2007


16 January 2008:   BLOG About those tapes

30 August 2007:  BLOG Good or bad?

29 August 2007:  BLOG Too too familiar

28 August 2007:  BLOG Fireworks at the Weave Shed?

28 August 2007:  BLOG Oblate priest to testify

12 August 2006:  BLOG  Sometimes I hang my head in shame


28 August 2007:  Father Frank Morrissey omi CPI transcript

29 August 2007:  Father Frank Morrissey omi CPI inquiry transcript

 01 December 2005Report of the Rev. Francis G. Morrisey omi in response to questions relating to financial management in the Roman Catholic Church(prepared for then Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, Paul Andre Durocher and entered into evidence at Cornwall Public Inquiry)2005“Confidentiality Archives and Records Management,” (Father Frank G. Morrosey omi, Catholic Archives 20062001“Addressing the Issue of Clergy Abuse” (Father Frank G Morrisey omi, Studia Canonica 35 2001)1992:   “Addressing the Issue of Clergy Abuse” (Father Frank G. Morrisey omi, Studia Canonica 35 1992)

1992:   “The Pastoral and Juridical Dimensions of Dismissal From the Clerical State and of Other Penalties for Acts of Sexual Misconduct” (Father Frank G Morrisey omi, Canon Law Society of America, Proceedings of Thirty-Third Annual Convention, San Antonipo Texas, October 14-17, 1991)

Articles of Interest

25 January 2010: Church making progress in dealing with sexual abuse: But new cases continue to arise and systemic issues remain

31 August 2007: “Abusers in the Church” and Emails to the Editor

30 August2007: Sex abuse cover up theory valid, says lawyer
30 August 2007: “The Church Is Doing Society A Favour – Local Priest” and “I protest”
29 August 2007: Priests risked ex-communication if they went public about abuse investigations

29 August 2007: “Priests not duty-bound to divulge content of confessions: lawyer” and “No duty to report priests’ confessions of child abuse, official says: Matters of conscience protected.”

Father Morrisey on Crimen Sollicitationis (the secret 1962 Vatican document The Crime of Solicitation)

Father Frank Morrisey affidavit – cv and Response to Questions Relating to Financial Management in the Roman Catholic Church in Canada

Canon Lawyers Trained to Address Sexual Abuse

The Tower – News

20 February 2005

By Gregory Parker

The University, together with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is helping train canon lawyers to implement the procedures United States bishops adopted last year to deal with clergy who are accused of sexual abuse of minors.

There were two one-week sessions at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center near campus, which began Feb. 17 and Feb. 24. The sessions were taught, in part, by canon law professor Msgr. Thomas Green and the Rev. Francis Morrissey, O.M.I., a canon law professor at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa.

The sessions were held to instruct canon lawyers with regard to the procedures outlined in the “Essential Norms,” adopted last year for handling cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. “This was the first time that such a program was offered. The focus of the program was examining the various stages of the formal church process that is used to clarify the truth of allegations of clerical sexual abuse of minors,” said Green.

According to Green, “There are roughly 170 dioceses in the county. Every diocese was encouraged to attend. Names of representatives were sent to Rome, and Rome sent a formal invitation to those who were to attend. During the first week, there were representatives from about 70 – 72 of the dioceses. The second week brought 165 representatives. Weather disrupted the first week, so many people came the second week who did not get to go the first week, due to the snow.”

After the training sessions, priest participants will be able to assist dioceses around the country in conducting the judicial proceedings in cases of clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors. These trained priests will act as judges, promoters of justice and advocates during the proceedings, which will deal with the possibility of the accused remaining a priest or deacon within the church. These procedures will not interfere with any civil penalty that may be assessed against an offender.

According to Monsignor Green, “The training sessions went through the stages of a formal procedure when an allegation is presented against a cleric. Rome is involved as a clearinghouse. Then the case is sent back to the diocese. Each diocese has their own marriage court, which is where the proceedings will take place. The training involved the entire process from evidence to appeals.”

University President Rev. David M. O’Connell, who is a canon lawyer, gave opening remarks at the sessions. “CUA, the only university in the United States offering degree programs in canon law, has a unique role and responsibility in meeting the needs of the Church and its people during this most difficult time. By providing further education for priest canonists, we are making our contribution to strengthening the Church’s structures of justice, compassion and healing for victims of clerical abuse,” said O’Connell in a press release about the training sessions.

Catholic University
Issue: 02/20/04

Some canon lawyers say due process limited for accused priests

Transmitted 01/28/2004 3:57 PM ET

By Agostino Bono

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As U.S. dioceses prepare to evaluate the cases of clerics accused of sex abuse of minors, several canon lawyers defending accused priests have complained that the procedures limit due process for their clients.

“Under church law you are innocent until proven guilty,” said Oblate Father Frank Morrisey, a canon lawyer who is defending several U.S. priests.

Yet, once a cleric has been accused, he is suspended from public ministry before being able to mount a defense, he said.

Critics say that this amounts to punishment without a proof of guilt.

Father Morrisey said that the accused has to wait months for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has overall authority in sex abuse cases, to review the diocese’s preliminary investigation and tell the diocese how to proceed in the case.

Another canon lawyer, Father Nicholas Rachford, said this delay puts accused priests in a state of “suspended animation.”

Father Morrisey said to expect a six- to eight-month delay after a bishop sends the case to the doctrinal congregation.

Father Morrisey was a teacher at one of the 2003 seminars sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to train canon lawyers in the special norms adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to deal with the sex abuse scandal. He is a canon law professor at St. Paul University in Ottawa.

Father Rachford said that the suspension from ministry before proof of guilt boils down to the loss of reputation of the accused.

“He is removed from ministry. He is removed from the rectory,” said Father Rachford, tribunal judge for the Byzantine Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. “This is a loss of reputation as soon as he leaves the rectory.”

An eparchy is the Eastern-rite equivalent of a diocese. Father Rachford is defending a Latin-rite priest.

The norms say that steps should be taken “to protect the reputation of the accused” during the preliminary investigation.

The special rules are known as the “Essential Norms” and they provide the legal framework for the U.S. bishops’ policies outlined in the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The norms cover priests and deacons.

Father Rachford said there seems to be a presumption of guilt with the presentation of the accusation, even before the preliminary investigation has been conducted.

Many priests are being suspended from public ministry right after the accusation although the norms say that suspension is to be imposed after the sending of the preliminary investigation to the doctrinal congregation, said Father Rachford, who attended one of the training seminars.

Father Ronny Jenkins, special consultant to the USCCB on the special norms, said that the suspension is applied “to protect the public just in case. It is not an indication of guilt.”

An accused priest during the preliminary investigation does not have the formal due process that he would at a trial, but he retains basic rights, such as the right to his good name, said Father Jenkins.

“He can’t be forced to admit to a crime, for instance,” he added.

Church officials are also required to provide a church lawyer to an accused who is unable to provide for one, said Father Jenkins.

Regarding how fast the doctrinal congregation is getting back to dioceses, the time varies.

The Detroit Archdiocese got answers on two major cases “in a couple of months,” said Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Walter A. Hurley, who handles sex abuse issues for the archdiocese. “It was not an unreasonable amount of time.”

In one decision, the doctrinal congregation supported the action of Detroit Cardinal Adam J. Maida to laicize a priest. In the other case, it ordered a trial for a priest.

The Chicago Archdiocese waited about six months before it was informed to hold a trial for one priest, said Father Patrick Lagges, archdiocesan judicial vicar.

He said the archdiocese has 13 other cases still pending. About 10 were sent over at the end of July and the rest at the end of September, said Father Lagges.

Father Rachford said that he could not discuss specifics of the case he is defending. He said that it was sent “recently” to the Vatican and he expects that the decision will be to hold a trial.

“There seems to be evidence that child abuse took place, so counterevidence needs to come forward which would best be done at a trial,” he said.

Father Morrisey said that another problem in presenting a defense is that many cases happened decades ago.

Evidence and witnesses are hard to find and many cases could end up being decided on the word of the accuser versus that of the accused, he said.


Twenty Years Later:

“Sacrae Disciplinae Leges” And The Guiding Principles For The Revision Of The Code

[Excerpt from Father Frank Morrissey’s 20 October 2003 commentary regarding the present Code of Canon Law. Morrissey expresses his concern that the rights of accused clergy are being violated]

We must seriously question the application in some places of the sixth principle on rights. For instance, issues relating to confidentiality and protection of reputation have been raised in those instances when files and accusations concerning priests were made public without their consent. Rights relating to due process of law are also overlooked or placed in doubt. The Pope has returned to this, time and again, when referring to marriage nullity cases; the same principles would apply also in penal cases.

The seventh principle on procedures for the protection of rights has been severely tested, and the results have been far from positive. For instance, recourses often take three to five years to resolve, while the situation simply festers and, by the time the decision is given, things have often gone beyond control. The Father Gruner (and Fatima) case is a good example of this – no matter which side of the question one is on.

In the same vein, I feel so saddened to see priests languishing in what we could call “holding pens” – many for over 20 months now – without any formal accusation, with no indication of if or when a trial will take place, or of a possible outcome to situations arising from accusations. We have our own Guantanamo Bay situations!

Indeed, it is probably with the sixth and seventh principles – the protection and vindication of rights – that we are most deficient in our applications. Many rights of priests, as mentioned earlier, no longer seem to be recognized in some dioceses. For instance, once an accusation has been lodged, there is no longer a presumption of innocence. The priest is usually not informed of the name of the person making the accusation. The provisions on prescription are no longer guaranteed. Confidentiality is no longer respected when the names of the accused are made available to the media. Quite a number of priests are removed from the clerical state, even by administrative decree, and without any pension or reasonable form of support. Of course, I do not want to generalize. Fortunately, some dioceses have been exceptionally careful in seeing to the rights of priests and in providing for their needs. But, regretfully, many others have not been considering these rights when trying to address situations.

As to trials, if such are mandated by the CDF, we must recognize that many dioceses and religious institutes are simply not equipped to offer penal trials speedily. Justice delayed is justice denied. It would seem that keeping a priest in limbo for more than six months without any action in his case is unacceptable.

Also, priests are finding it very difficult to have access to canonical counsel, even though this is prescribed in the law (see canon 1481, §2).

A Canadian Nightmare

Abuse Scandals Seem Unending

[an excerpt of “A Canadian Nightmare” on Missing Link. The article is based on Sins of the Fathers, a 23 November 1997 Ottawa Sun expose of the “shuffling” off of clerical sexual molesters in Canada.]

In an interview, Fr. Frank Morrissey, an influential professor of canon law, showed the depth of denial within the church. He chaired a committee set up by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992 that made numerous recommendations and said he believed they were being adhered to. One of the committee members, Fr. Peter O’Hanley, had been sentenced to jail for molesting boys, four years before the study ended. Yet he was asked to join the study as a “victim.” Morrissey said. “Victim could mean many things. He could also be considered a victim.”

He went on to defend the clergy. “Who is totally pure? Who is not a sinner?” he asked. He said that distinctions had to be made between events of 20 years ago and “something that’s happening now.”

Even more incredibly, Morrissey admitted that the reason why priests are never excommunicated following convictions for sex crimes is because of the money the church has invested in them. Estimating that it costs $250,000 by the time a priest is trained and ordained, he said, “If we have invested money in these people we’ve got to see if something can be corrected and looked at.”

More on Clergy Scandals at St. Paul’s University

St. Paul’s said to be “a curious sort of revolving door” for problem priests


OTTAWA, September 12, 2002 ( – Following LifeSite’s Aug. 12 report on the history of scandals related to some priests at Ottawa’s St. Paul’s University, additional disturbing revelations have been published in the August 29 edition of the U.S. Wanderer newspaper.

The Wanderer interviewed Ottawa Catholic Sylvia MacEachern, who has closely followed the St. Paul’s situation for many years. MacEachern told the Wanderer that St. Paul’s is “a curious sort of revolving door” for priests with sexual, spiritual or theological problems. She also alleges that there has been an inordinate number of problem priests in the classes of canon lawyers and liturgists “who go from west to east in Canada, from the United States to Canada, and Europe and Africa to Canada, many of whom seem to be either running or hiding.”

MacEachern relates the case of “Fr. Martin Wayne, a convicted pedophile from the diocese of Peterborough, Ont. who was sent to St. Paul for a canon law degree and now works for the tribunals of Ottawa and Peterborough, and Fr. William Lum, a judge for the diocese of Rochester’s tribunal, who was sent to St. Paul’s for advanced studies in canon law after he was exposed as a molester.” Lum was one of six priests recently suspended by Rochester’s Bishop Matthew Clark.

Also mentioned by MacEachern is “Msgr. Richard Boll., chancellor of the diocese of London (Ont.), who was exposed as a sexual molester at the same time he was testifying on behalf of the diocese” in the Fr. Barry Glendenning civil suit. She states that “another prominent spokesman for the homosexual movement in the Church in the U.S., Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P., received his degree in canon law from St. Paul’s in the early 60’s.

In 1989, says MacEachern, St. Paul’s celebrated its centennial with special guest lectures by prominent dissenters from Catholic teaching.

In its October 22 edition, the Wanderer comments further on the Case of Fr. John Huels, reported in the Aug. 12 LifeSite news. It states that the Ottawa Citizen reported on August 10 that officials at St. Paul’s University knew that Huels was an accused homosexual molester when he was hired. “One of those officials”, says the Wanderer “was Fr. Francis Morrisey, Canada’s pre-eminent canonist.”

Michael Bland, whose exposure of Fr. Huels led to Huel’s resignation from St. Paul’s, is quoted by the Citizen as stating “I’ve been told that Fr. Francis Morrisey knew about Fr. Huel’s history, when he was hired five years ago.” Fr. Morissey declined to comment to the Citizen about the allegations made by Bland. Fr. Morrisey, notes the Wanderer, “helped alleged molester Fr. Joseph Bukoski, canon lawyer for the Diocese of Honolulu chart the process for excommunicating five critics of former Bishop Joseph Ferrario.”

CBS news reported on May 23 “Hawaii’s Joseph Ferrario in 1989 was the first U.S. bishop accused of molestation. His accuser sued, but a court dismissed it as too late. Ferrario denied the charges and retired early in 1993.”…


Regional Meetings Help Forge Closer Ties

Very Rev. Lawrence O’Keefe, J.C.D.

(Excerpt from O’Keefe’s comments regarding attendance at the 21 – 24 October 2002 Canadian Canon Law Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

The timely theme for this year’s meeting, “Contemporary Penal Issues,” was presented during the course of four conferences by Frank Morrisey. Frank did a superb job (as usual) in addressing “The rights of the clergy in the post-Dallas era” (#1), “The protection of a person’s reputation according to canon law and the reparation of unjust harm done to a cleric” (#2), “Fundamental values underlying canonical penal trials” (#3), and “Procedures in penal cases, including those reserved to the Holy See” (#4).
Canon Law Society of America