VATICAN CITY (Catholic online) - The official bulletin of the Holy See was short and to the point: "the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has dismissed from the pastoral care of the diocese of Toowoomba (Australia) H. E. Bishop William M. Morris." Such an extraordinary action by the Vatican signals very serious matters.
This is particularly clear when the action is taken after a thorough investigation and upon a formal report submitted by one of the finest Bishops in the United States selected to oversee the investigation of this entire affair, Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado.
Bishop William M. Morris sent a letter to supporters on his own behalf. In it he claimed, "While the overwhelming majority of you have been supportive of me and have worked collaboratively with me to ensure the ongoing life of the diocese, and its mission to be a bearer of the Gospel to the wider world, a small group have found my leadership and the direction of the diocese not to their liking.
"While I have tried to deal with all people fairly and to involve all in the ministry and mission of the diocese I have not always been able to succeed. Some of those who have been disaffected by my leadership have exercised the option of making complaints about me, some of these complaints being based on my Advent Pastoral Letter of 2006 which has been misread and I believe deliberately misinterpreted.
"This led to an Apostolic Visitation and an ongoing dialogue between myself and the Congregations for Bishops, Divine Worship and Doctrine of the Faith and eventually Pope Benedict. The substance of these complaints is of no real import now but the consequences are that is has been determined by Pope Benedict that the diocese would be better served by the leadership of a new bishop.
"I have never seen the Report prepared by the Apostolic Visitor, Archbishop Charles Chaput and without due process it has been impossible to resolve these matters, denying me natural justice without any possibility of appropriate defence and advocacy on my behalf. Pope Benedict confirmed this to me by stating, "Canon Law does not make provision for a process regarding bishops, whom the Successor of Peter nominates and may remove from Office."
"This makes my position as Bishop of Toowoomba untenable. I have never wavered in my conviction that for me to resign is a matter of conscience and my resignation would mean that I accept the assessment of myself as breaking communio which I absolutely refute and reject and it is out of my love for the Church that I cannot do so. I have never written a letter of resignation.
"To find a way through this moral dilemma I put forward the proposal that I was prepared to negotiate early retirement. As Canon Law does not make provision for a process regarding bishops this seemed the only course open to me. I do so with profound sadness knowing that I still enjoy the support of the vast majority of the people and priests of the diocese. The Consultors are aware of all the facts as I have met with them on a regular basis to keep them up-to-date with what was happening. Through them, the priests and the pastoral leaders, you will be given the full story."
One of the priests fomenting rebellion against this legitimate and necessary action taken by the Holy See is Father Peter Kennedy of South Brisbane, Australia. He fomented rebellion against his own Bishop and tried to turn the faithful against the clear teaching of the Catholic Church back in 2009. Fr. Kennedy demonstrated the same infidelity to the proper celebration of the Sacred Mysteries as Bishop Morris.
Like Bishop Morris, Fr. Kennedy also blurred the distinction between the community and the celebrant, collapsed the important distinction between the priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. Fr. Kennedy presided over services for actively homosexual couples and abdicated his call to preach. He questioned fundamental Catholic doctrine such as the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ and the Virgin Birth of Our Lord.
Fr Kennedy, like Bishop Morris, presented himself as the victim and the hierarchy of the Church as the "oppressor." He attempted to spin necessary disciplinary actions taken against him as some sort of clash between his teachings on social justice which he said threatened the establishment of the Church and people who were somehow out to get him.
We invite the global readership of Catholic Online to pray for Bishop
William M. Morris. That in his retirement he may draw close to the Lord
to whom he gave his life and find true peace. Also, pray that the
effort to foment rebellion against the legitimate authority of the
Catholic Church will be curtailed.
Pray for those dissidents attempting to blame this necessary pastoral action on those whom some of them refer to as a "gang of right wing catholics called the Temple Police." Finally, pray for Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Brian Finnigan who was appointed as apostolic administrator of this troubled diocese.
It is important to expose dissent and rebellion for what it truly is. There was no "moral dilemma" here; only a Bishop who was not following his call to obedience to the Church and her Magisterium. If we really want to consider "rights" in this sad situation, we should consider the right of the faithful to receive the true and complete teaching of the Magisterium and participate in Holy Mass without suffering novelty or infidelity.
We should consider the rights of the faithful eager to be pastored by Bishops who want to be successors of the Apostles and work in fidelity with the College of Bishops and the Successor of Peter. These Catholics are neither "right wing", nor are they "temple police." They are simply followers of Jesus Christ in love with the Catholic Church which He founded. They are also growing in number as the Holy Spirit raises up the Catholic Church for a new missionary age.
In : OLP Newsline
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