Important: From our sister Association in Australia

National Council of Priests of Australia   

PO Box 295, Belmont VIC 3216

P: 61 3 5244 3680 F: 61 3 5244 4762
E: national.office@ncp.catholic.org.au
Skype: ncpnationaloffice

3 May 2011

Media Release

The NCP executive would like to express its sadness at the forced early retirement of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba.

We are appalled at the lack of transparency and due process that led to this decision by Church authorities.
We are embarrassed about the shabby treatment meted out to an outstanding Pastor of this diocese who has faithfully ministered in the Church in Queensland and throughout Australia since his priestly ordination in 1969.
We are concerned about an element within the Church whose restorationist ideology wants to repress freedom of expression within the Roman Catholic Church and who deny the legitimate magisterial authority of the local Bishop within the Church. Jesus rightly condemned the righteous scribes and Pharisees of his time for adhering to their interpretation of the Mosaic law at the expense of God’s ultimate commandment of love.
Many of the people influencing these decisions have limited pastoral experience and appear to show little concern for the sensus fidelium.
We appeal to the Bishop of Rome in his acknowledged role as first among equals and the source of communio within the Church to listen and build bridges of trust, faith and love with those who have been hurt by this decision.
We stand in prayerful solidarity with the priests and people of Toowoomba who are justifiably aggrieved by this pronouncement.
We pray for Bishop Morris who has undergone an extraordinary period of trial over the last few years of his Episcopal ministry and trust that history will accurately record the benefit of his ministry as a faithful, human servant of the Gospel of Jesus. We wish him well in his retirement and have appreciated his support for his priests and the work of the NCP.
To the Catholics of the Toowoomba we pray for a worthy successor to Bishop Morris.

Ian McGinnity, NCP Chairman

Mobile: 0419 638 714


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  1. Brendan HobanSSC says:

    I am saddened and angry with the early retirement of Bishop William Morris and the manner in which it was done. It is familiar and seems to repeat so much of how Bishop Bede Heather was treated in 1997 from Parramatta. Was nothing learned? There was the “Temple Police” and the insiders in Rome dealing in back rooms with lack of honesty and transparency. Bill Morris did some wonderful work in a very difficult diocese in a Church which is in crisis like our Irish church and he pays for his prophetic stand. If it is any consolation to him he now joins an honourable list of prophetic bishops Heather, Robinson and Heaps who were prepared to stand up, speak for the powerless and paid the price with their fellow bishops. Injustice and the lack of natural justice is not just the prerogative of the “temple police” and the Curia but it also extends down the ranks from Bishops to laity and do we just say “it’s not my business”?

  2. Mary o Vallely says:

    I find the treatment of Bishop Morris appalling and inhuman.This is not how those who purport to be followers of Jesus should behave and shows how far we have strayed from His simple message of love and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness.This attitude must be challenged by those who love this Church, who love God and His people else we are bound to destroy ourselves by apathy or lack of courage. I am hanging on by my shredded fingertips though many more of my friends have left in despair. God bless all those who are suffering from this further outrage.

  3. The bishop has called for the recognition of Anglican orders, among others, and the use of their services when no Catholic priest is available. The bishop has also permitted ‘concelebration’ by laypeople and other novelties never taught by the Church. This is contrary to Catholic teaching and I, for one, do not blame the Vatican. The Pope is more than primus inter pares among the bishops he is the successor of St. Peter. I know that ‘free speech’ is reserved to those who agree with you but at least you had to read it and will hopefully repent/resign.

  4. Well said, who does this Bishop of Rome think he is, the Pope? If a bishop wants to introduce novelties never known in the Church, let him do so. More liturgical dance is what I say, more ‘concelebration’ by the laity, more Anglicans saying Mass for us etc.

  5. Many priests have benefited individually from the ministry of their Anglican and Lutheran brethren, as in received the Eucharist in Anglican churches.
    Many priests have invited the faithful into the sanctuary to join hands with the priest or priests — and of course every mass involves the con-celebration of the laity.
    Liturgical dance is practised at papal liturgies.
    Very many of us would like to see women priests and bishops (and do see them in other churches).
    So even if the temple police find grounds to expel yet another of their betes noires, one wonders if the priorities reflected therein are those of the people of God or of the Gospel .
    And in any case, where is the public and transparent discussion of these issues? How can we lend credence to anonymous groupies who show themselves so ready to think the worst of people on the basis of no open discussion?

  6. fr gerald waris says:

    I stand with the priests in support of their shepherd, Bishop Morris. I thank Bishop Morris for his honesty and willingness to entertain dialogue about issues which are critical and important for all members of the Church. I wonder if the powers to be ever heard of the Council of Jerusalem!! It might be well for all of us in pastoral ministry to ponder those powerful words and actions of the early Church… Peace to all.. Fr. GErald Waris, USA

  7. catholic newsbot says:

    Editorial: a Bishop that had to go
    Wednesday, 18 May 2011
    The removal by Pope Benedict of Bishop William Morris from the diocese that had been placed into his care for the Catholic faith in 1993 has been major news throughout the Catholic world over the last fortnight.
    The problem for Bishop Morris, in the end, was that given the two positions he had to make a choice – his way or the Catholic Church way. The problem for the Church was how to handle a Bishop well down the road in effectively promoting what might now reasonably be called heresy in his diocese. As The Australian’s columnist Christopher Pearson (also a convert to Catholicism) wrote shortly after the story broke, Bishop Morris had already sown consternation in his diocese with his 2006 pastoral letter. Seeking comment on how to respond to a shortage of priestly vocations in the diocese of Toowoomba, the Bishop canvassed possibilities including the ordination of women priests and recognising the validity of Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church Orders. He did this although he should have known that the Church had already definitively ruled these out. In 1994, Pope John Paul II declared authoritatively as the Vicar of Christ in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church had no power to ordain women priests. A year later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the future Pope Benedict XVI, clarified John Paul II’s teaching as “to be held definitively as belonging to the deposit of faith.”
    Official Church teachings and various statements on the validity or otherwise of the Orders of other Christian denominations are numerous, date back centuries and were, in some instances, reaffirmed by the CDF (under the future Pope Benedict XVI) as recently as 1998 as definitive. To suppose that such teachings could be dropped or changed by the Church was never anything more than mere fantasy. And whether critics were in a majority or a minority in the diocese of Toowoomba is immaterial. The truth of the Gospel never depends on numbers.
    Bishop Morris has been portrayed (not surprisingly) by organisations such as the National Council of Priests of Australia as the innocent and unjustly treated victim of a dogmatic, pharisaical mindset under Pope Benedict and Rome (the usual conspiracy theory in the NCPA world of billabong theology where no fresh water appears to have flowed in since 1968).
    But as reported in this edition of The Record (see stories on pages 6-7) he was actually treated with the utmost delicacy, discretion and respect by two Popes and three Vatican dicasteries. He was given more than ten years to resolve the issues and, remaining immovable, still stubbornly resisted repeated requests for his resignation.
    URL: http://www.therecord.com.au/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2556&Itemid=30

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