Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bishop Morris: The final chapter?

The statement of the Australian bishops on the dismissal of Bishop Morris of Toowoomba has now been released.

There is nothing startling in it.  Indeed, the only surprise is that it took a week or two of discussion in Rome to get arrive at it when it is what they should have come out with at the time, given that all of the facts alluded to in the statement, and all of the doctrinal and pastoral issues alluded to, were common knowledge.

Still, better late than never I guess. 

Here it is in full, with my comments interspersed:


"Our letter to Bishop Brian Finnigan in May said that, during the Ad Limina visit in October, we would have discussions concerning the events which led to the departure of Bishop William Morris from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Toowoomba. That has been done.

We had individual meetings with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Subsequently we had a joint meeting with Cardinal Ouellet and Cardinal Levada. As well, we ourselves met several times.

We were very appreciative of the time given to us by the Cardinals and the personal and pastoral concern which they expressed. Our discussions with them were substantial, serious and candid. [The Vatican officials must have been much tried in the virtue of patience!]

These meetings have given us a more adequate understanding of what was done by the Holy See in an attempt to resolve the difficulties with Bishop Morris [Really?  There was an awful lot of material in the public domain at the time, and it was pretty clear that a number of Australian bishops were in the loop with Bishop Morris' exchanges with Rome along the way...], which concerned not only matters of Church discipline [a concern Bishop Wright of Newcastle has hopefully taken note of the need to stay in touch with in relation to the TLM] but also of Church doctrine definitively taught, such as on the ministerial priesthood [so yes, the teaching that women cannot be priests is infallible!  Nor are protestant ministers interchangeable with Catholic priests...]. What the Holy See did was fraternal and pastoral rather than juridical in character. [So stopping carrying on about alleged breaches of 'natural justice'!] Although efforts continued over many years, a critical point came when Bishop Morris failed to clarify his position to the satisfaction of the Holy See and then found himself unable to resign as Bishop of the Diocese when the Holy Father made the request.[ie A bishop cannot just ignore Rome and the Pope!]

What was at stake was the Church’s unity in faith and the ecclesial communion between the Pope and the other Bishops in the College of Bishops. Eventually Bishop Morris was unable to agree to what this communion requires and at that point the Pope acted as the Successor of Peter, who has the task of deciding what constitutes unity and communion in the Church. [This is what makes us Catholics and not protestants!]

We express our acceptance of the Holy Father’s exercise of his Petrine ministry, and we reaffirm our communion with and under Peter. We return to Australia determined to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division [hopefully by insisting that all bishops actively teach the faith on these subjects to correct the errors that have been allowed to fester under the guise of claims of 'creeping infallibility' and the like], to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris [who needs to be brought back to the fullness of the faith], and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia.

Bishop Power gone?

PS A notable absence from the list of Audiences with the Pope over the last few weeks was that of dissenting Canberra Auxiliary Patrick Power.  Does that mean that his proferred resignation has been accepted?


Peter said...

Kate, you did this beautifully and thanks so much as always. Your words have a way of giving us hope and encouragement for the future. Thanks so much again!

Joshua said...

Please see above link to The Australian's article on Bishop Power considering resignation back on March 8, 2011 - maybe it has been accepted.

Alexander said...

Isn't Bishop Oudeman from Brisbane also missing in action from the ad limina meeting as well as Bishop Power?