Monday, 30 January 2012

No healing in Toowoomba: the case for some suspensions, excommunications and interdiction

A reader sent me a copy of the Toowoomba Cathedral Bulletin for this Sunday.  Seems things are as bad as ever there, with a self-appointed 'leadership group' continuing to stir up trouble.

In particular, Fr Ian Waters’ “Canonical Reflection” and Bill Carter’s Memorandum were both available for distribution and all were encouraged to take a copy after Mass.

And then there was this item in the bulletin:


Since the removal of Bishop Morris in May 2011, a group known as the Toowoomba Diocesan Leadership Group has met on several occasions (May, June, July and November in 2011 and more recently 17 January 2012) to respond to this action by Vatican authorities. This Leadership Group comprises all Priests, all Pastoral Leaders, all Directors and Executive Officers of Diocesan Agencies and Ministries, and all members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Diocesan Pastoral Administration Committee and the Diocesan Finance Council: in effect, key people from across the Diocese in positions of pastoral leadership.

The Leadership Group has been in regular contact with the Bishops of Australia and with Bishop Morris. In the latter part of 2011, Justice William Carter, a retired Supreme Court Judge (Qld), was asked to provide a legal opinion on the process resulting in the removal of Bishop Morris. Justice Carter was provided with copies of documentation between Bishop Morris and the Vatican authorities. These included the Congregations for Bishops, for Worship and Sacraments, and for the Faith, and ultimately, Pope Benedict. Justice Carter provided his opinion in late October 2011.

In November 2011, Fr lan Waters, an eminent Canon Lawyer in Sydney, was approached to provide a canonical (Church Law) perspective on the legal (Civil Law) opinion of Justice Carter on the process involved in the removal of Bishop Morris. Fr Waters provided his opinion in mid December 2011.

Both opinions have been given to Bishop Morris. Both opinions have been tabled for discussion at the January 2012 meeting of the Toowoomba Diocesan Leadership Group. Both opinions have been sent to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and through the Conference to all Bishops in Australia. Both opinions are to be sent to the three Congregations (noted earlier) in the Vatican in the coming week. Justice Carter and Fr Waters have both given recent and extensive interviews on the ABC. Bishop Morris has agreed that this legal material be released to the wider community.

Copies of these documents are available on the front and east tables."


Stella Orientis said...

You would think the opinion of Fr Waters would be brief: "As a purely Canonical issue, any opinion of Civil Law is unhelpful and utterly irrelevant. In Canonical terms the supreme legislator and legal actor has exercised his own prerogative, there is no recourse for dispute or appeal."

But of course, that's not what they want to hear...

Joshua said...

What bastards they are to put themselves and their errors forward with such a brazen front - what fools they are to think that their whinging will cause the Pope to say "oh, I am so stupid a German, I must stop being bad and reappoint zat Morris" - as if!

The mark of Modernists is their breathtaking arrogance, their utter self-righteousness and their refusal to ever admit that they are or were wrong, let alone deserving of censure or needing to repent.

It can't be that hard to grasp that Morris is gone and that it is fantasy to think he'll come back.

If they were honest they'd do a South Brisbane, secede from the Church, set up their own sect and ordain women, marry homosexuals and implement all the other things that nasty old Rome stops them from doing - but they havent the guts to do that.

Benjamin said...

What I find amazing is that Bishop Morris has stated publically he is not in full communion with the Church when he wrote to the Catholic bishops of Australia and said: "It has been my experience and the experience of others that Rome controls bishops by fear and if you ask questions or speak openly on subjects that Rome declares closed or does not wish discussed, you are censored very quickly, told your leadership is defective etc, etc ". This is Morris openly admitting that he wanted discussion on some issues which are definitively held and which make up the deposit of faith. This statement alone is enough to condemn him and automatically puts him outside full communion of the Catholic Church. He then has the hide to complain about lack of natural justice.

Secondly, how can Bill Carter's report be an independent and unbiased report when he has not been able to speak to the various congregations or the Pope on this issue? How can this report be verified it the correspondence Bill Carter has seen is not then made available for all of us to see? How can this report be tabled when Carter has not taken in to account the numerous letters that Morris received from the laity raising numerous abuses and what Morris wrote in reply? How can this report claim to be a full and accurate account of what happened when not all correspondence from the Holy See to Morris and Morris's replies to the Holy See for the 18 years of his tenure have been seen by Carter or tabled for public consumption?

This is as big a con as one can imagine.

Joshua said...

Why on earth doesn't Finnigan, as the Apostolic Administrator of Toowoomba, put a stop to such nonsense forthwith?

Is he in charge in any real sense if he allows this pustule to bulge and fester?

This so-called leadership group sounds like a council of crooks, and their actions should have been forbidden.

Rick DeLano said...

The schism has begun.

Poor Pope Benedict, who spent his life trying to propose a notion of communion, which simply does not correspond to the reality of the Church in our time.

Please, Your Holiness.

Protect the Faith, and excommunicate the heretics.

The time is long. long, long since past, and failure to act to protect the Faith in the face of these multiplying schisms (Austria as well) will render a future Pope unable to avoid the necessary correctives, which will certainly involve, under justice itself, a most unfavorable assessment of the prudential exercise of the office of His immediate predecessors.

Carob_molasses said...

Stella - Fr Water's opinion more properly would be what it is; with the note that a Civil lawyer is important to have, because part of establishing the principles which Canon Law requires be observed are (inter alia) "common and constant opinion of learned authors" (Can 19). So getting a civil lawyer to discuss standard secular ancient legal principles is entirely appropriate. How those get transferred into the mix of canon law case is complicated, and their priority compared to intrachurch sources not great, but they do have a place. SO a secular lawyer is not totally irrelevant, but has some (albeit comparatively marginal) role.
Joshua - look at the list of eminent priest and lay functionaries that have signed up to that leadership group (lets assume the 'all' there is true). If there is ANY bottom-up prudential consideration of what well-placed, committed and decent priests and lay people in the diocese think, then a group with such strong representation has to be taken seriously. I must admit I was pretty shocked by it.

Given the eminence of this group, doesnt it suggest that this is more about natural justice/process, and not the list of fantasy-horror heresies listed by Joshua as motives of the group? Inconvenient as it might be to ideologues, the leadership group are unlikely to be pro women priests or pro gay marriage etc, but just concerned with this as an administrative matter.
Pose it this way - how would the papacy and episcopacy best live out its gift of authority in the church? By alienating its most committed clergy laypeople in an act of arbitrary governance, or to make administrative decisions that are wise?
Benjamin - good point about incompleteness of the report because of lack of interviews/documents - but the fact that incompleteness is not bias/non-independence - compare it to a report on organised crime, which will be based on inference from evidence and not direct testimony and inside business docs of the organised criminals. That makes the report necessarily incomplete, not ipso facto biased and partial.
Joshua - look at the list of functionaries in the leadership group. An administrator could not run a diocese without them. Stop fantasising about ultramontanist 'night of the long knives' and look at it as a management reality.
Rick D - there is no formal schism in anyone's comments here, so your comments are irrelevant. (idem Benjamin - you have interpreted (em.) Bishop Morris' comments as indicating outside the Church, but he didnt declare such, and it wouldnt hold up on Canon Law. Saying that Roman Bureaucrats are monstrous is not heresy or schism; sorry! - just your construction of criticism). They are perhaps injudicious statements, spirited contestations of the underlings of our CEO papacy, but not a formal pertinacious denial of articles of faith.
Finally, Joshua - I agree - its probably a fantasy to think Bishop Morris could come back. Due to the de facto vote of no confidence that the leadership group represents, Toowoomba might be under administration for a very long time (perhaps even until the death in a few decades, of Em. Bish. Morris?). Imagine putting in a bishop when most of the workers in the diocese dont support the deposition of the previous one, the previous one stands as a reputational shadow of the incumbent? Dreadful.

Kate said...

Sorry Carob but canon 19 does not mean the opinion of civil lawyers.

The context of the whole canon (similar canonical laws and canonical principles; practice of the Curia; common and constant learned opinion) together with any standard commentary will tell you it is referring to the tradition of eminent commentaries and commentators on canon law - not just anyone who happens to have a canon law degree, and certainly not civil lawyers whose views are totally irrelevant to this case.

In fact this particular canon is one that counters the arguments of those suggesting the Pope should have invented some new process for this case. Instead he relied on tried and true precedents when it comes to dismissing a bishop, incliing with past curial practice going back several centuries, as this can provides.

Stella Orientis said...

Carob I hope you realise that the first line in your response to me was contradicted by the rest of it? Unless the civil lawyer is also a canon lawyer, by definition he is not a "learned author" in the context of a purely canonical case. Bp. Morris' case has as much to do with civil law as it does with the prawn harvest in Kazakhstan.

You raise a good point though - if the (somewhat difficult to believe) list of members of this "leadership council" is indeed accurate, then what we need here is a plain old interdict. Suppress the diocese and leave them all to their eternal reward.