Alabama priest laicized after civil marriage to 18-year-old 

Laicization Credit: Shutterstock

A former Alabama priest has officially been laicized after abandoning his assignment and marrying an 18-year-old, the Archdiocese of Mobile said in a statement announcing the Vatican’s decree.

Alex Crow was originally suspended from ministry in July after he abandoned his assignment in the archdiocese and left the country with a woman one month after she turned 18. 

The archdiocese had asked civil authorities to investigate the matter, and the Mobile district attorney’s office did not find evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Crow. The two reportedly signed a notarized marriage certificate on Nov. 17. 

In a statement released on Friday, the archdiocese said it had “received notice that the laicization of Alex Crow is complete, effective immediately.” 

“Mr. Crow once served as a priest in the archdiocese but is no longer a member of the clergy, confirmed in a letter by our Holy Father, Pope Francis,” the statement said. Crow initiated the process himself, the archdiocese noted.

Archbishop Thomas Rodi in the statement expressed “gratitude” to Pope Francis for the decree, the archdiocese said, with the prelate saying in the press release: “I pray that this decision is one more way in which we can all move toward peace after these unsettling events.” 

“I continue to pray for God’s grace to bring healing for all,” Rodi added. 

Though no power on earth can erase the sacramental imprint of a priest’s ordination, laicization strips the clergyman of the legal status of being a cleric. 

When a person loses the clerical state, he no longer has the right to exercise sacred ministry in the Church, except in the extreme situation of encountering someone who is in immediate danger of death.

Furthermore, someone who has lost the clerical state no longer has the canonical right to be financially supported by the Church.

In many cases, a man who is laicized is also dispensed from the obligation of celibacy and permitted to marry — but this is not always the case, especially when someone has been involuntarily removed from the clerical state.

The archdiocese in its statement did not explicitly reveal whether Crow had been dispensed from the celibacy obligation, though it said that with the pope’s decision, he no longer has “any of the privileges or responsibilities of the priesthood.” 

“This decision of Pope Francis is final. There is no appeal,” the archdiocese said.

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