Alabama Priest Fired after Marrying 18-Year-Old

( – In July a 30-year-old Catholic priest from Alabama named Alex Crow ran off to Italy with 18-year-old Taylor Victoria Harrison. While apparently not officially employed by the school, Crow did serve as a parochial vicar at Corpus Christi Parish in Mobile, Alabama where Harrison graduated in June. When they returned to Alabama, they were married through the civil court system.

While the church has been embroiled in the process of laicization, which means removal from the priesthood with no chance of ever returning, the family of teen Harrison was seemingly unaware of the pair’s relationship and pushed for an investigation as to whether she had been groomed by Crow. Investigations into the circumstances were headed up by her family, the Mobile County District Attorney, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, and the archdiocese.

While the investigation did turn up a love letter from Crow to Harrison from the Valentine’s Day preceding their trip to Italy when Harrison would have still been 17, the sheriff’s office and the district attorney eventually closed the case due to lack of evidence. In the meantime, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi had already suspended Crow’s priestly duties and privileges which seems to be a normal step when a priest abruptly abandons his responsibilities without explanation. He then notified civil authorities that he said was due to an overabundance of caution.

Although the laicization process can be initiated by church officials if the priest has been absent from their post for 6 months or more, Crow initiated the process himself before that time. The young age of the woman and the sudden unexplained departure complicated the situation which is not unheard of. Priests and nuns, both historically and today, sometimes leave their orders to marry as well as for other reasons. In this case, it will most likely be a permanent exile though, as Pope Francis has confirmed the laicization and Archbishop Rodi has stated that he sees no way back for Crow due to his scandalous behavior.

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