Monday, May 2, 2011

A Bishop Is Forced To Resign -- Not Because He's A Sex Offender, But Because He Might Be Open To Ordaining Women

Australia's Bishop Morris doesn't seem to be in style with his Vatican counterparts.  No dress, no cappa magna, no more diocese.

On the day when the US announces the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the Vatican is awash in publicity for the Beatification of JPII,  Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, New South Wales, Australia announces his forced resignation from his Diocesan See.  Nothing like burying a bad PR story under a whole bunch of other stories.

Pope removes bishop who expressed openness to ordaining women

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has removed Australian Bishop William M. Morris of Toowoomba from office five years after he wrote a pastoral letter indicating he would be open to ordaining women and married men if church rules changed to allow such a possibility.

In an open letter to Catholics in his diocese released May 1, Bishop Morris said the 2006 letter "has been misread and, I believe, deliberately misinterpreted" by a small group within the diocese. (Australian priests and bishops have been plagued by this 'small' group who have the ear of one Cardinal Pell and his supporters in the Vatican.)

In a brief statement May 2, the Vatican said, "The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has relieved His Excellency Msgr. William M. Morris of the pastoral care of the Diocese of Toowoomba."
The formulation indicated that Bishop Morris had not offered his letter of resignation.

The Vatican did not explain the pope's decision, but in the past has made it clear that the Catholic Church considers it a matter of faith that Jesus chose only men to be his apostles and, therefore, the church is not free to ordain women. In addition, it has affirmed that while exceptional cases exist, celibacy is the norm for priests in the Latin rite. (I have visions of Belgian Archbishop Vangelhuwe dancing in my head and it's making me very very angry.  For the Vatican,  a whiff in the direction of women priests is far worse than actually admitting one sexually abuses children and this has been a very consistent position over the last fifteen years.)

Bishop William M Morris of ToowoombaIn his open letter, Bishop Morris said misunderstandings about his pastoral letter on the diocese's serious priest shortage led Pope Benedict to appoint U.S. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver to conduct an apostolic visitation of the Toowoomba diocese. (My my, isn't Archbishop Chaput wracking up the frequent flyer miles?)

"I have never seen the report prepared by the apostolic visitor," Bishop Morris said, and "without due process it has been impossible to resolve these matters, denying me natural justice without any possibility of appropriate defense and advocacy on my behalf." (Rape a child Bishop Morris and the Church will give you --as a bishop --all the due process any man could want.)

The bishop said the fact that there would be no further hearing on the matter was confirmed by a letter he received from the pope, which stated: "Canon law does not make provision for a process regarding bishops, whom the successor of Peter nominates and may remove from office." 

Bishop Morris said he did not offer to resign as "a matter of conscience" because "my resignation would mean that I accept the assessment of myself as breaking 'communio,' which I absolutely refute and reject."
The text of Morris' letter explaining his here is here: Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba.


If the Vatican is not one of the most corrupt bureaucracies on earth, it is one of the most delusional.  I find it most fascinating that on the weekend dedicated to JPII, we find counter thrusts coming from people who are victims of JPII's two bigger failures.  His enabling of pedophiles, and his personal opinion about women in the priesthood which he attempted to dress up as God's will.  It just boggles my mind that in the the past month we have had one priest laicised and one bishop forced to resign over the idea of womens' ordination, while one self confessed Archbishop pedophile gets remedial treatment--treatment which not so coincidentally included his mandated removal from the jurisdiction in which he might face criminal prosecution--and one career Cardinal diplomat makes an ass of himself over the clerical pedophile JPII fawned over.  If I was keeping score it would be pedophiles 2, women's ordination -2.  But then, this is the Vatican that does classify women's ordination as a higher crime against the Church than clerical pedophilia in that one is a heresy and one is just a moral issue.

For some reason, although I can intellectually go where this all goes--after all it does follow a given logic, my heart totally rebels.  Maybe that's because when it comes to protecting the all male celibate priesthood the Vatican has zero compassion for anyone not ordained or any ordinate who does not follow the company line.  By the way, most clerical pedophiles follow the company line when it comes to the theology behind the all male celibate priesthood.  They do not see themselves as dissenting heretics.  They might see themselves as sinners.

Sometimes I really lower the bar and think I might be able to tolerate this if there was at least some sign of collective embarrassment.  But no, along comes Cardinal Angelo Sodano to disabuse me of any notion of collective embarrassment.  Instead I find it's myself who is embarrassed.  Again.  I guess finding myself being embarrassed is a hell of a lot better than feeling myself betrayed.  Only God knows how many Catholics are feeling deeply betrayed by their Catholic leadership.

Speaking of betrayal,  I spent a great deal of the last couple weeks thinking about betrayal.  I think betrayal is one of the key elements of the Passion story.  Jesus was betrayed all over the place the last week of His life except by the women who were his key disciples.  Except by the women.  It's kind of sad that after two thousand years, nothing much has changed. Women are still not being listened too and the male leadership is still betraying their core humanity in order to protect themselves.



  1. Thank you for your thoughts and clarity of writing on your blog. You give words to the feelings that I can't express.

    Blessings upon you and your readers.

  2. Yes, thank you again. I can just assume that Diana and I are in the same boat in the constant struggle to verbalize how we feel over the multiple issues you cover.

    And speaking as a college, twenty-something student, I have often confronted others in our campus ministry with the school of thought "well, we are talking about Rome. They may have some sort of moral authority on issues....but they also rank the notion of female priests worse than clerical I'll take what they say at my own discretion". That phrase alone immediately casts me out of any and all discussion or I'm reminded how I just need to better learn JPII's Theology of the Body and why/how it was Jesus established our male clerical system!

    I'm going to stop here before I begin any rants on the new brand of college ministry and the odd, dangerous forces working behind them. For an interesting glance into this cult, check out FOCUS.(Fellowship of Catholic University Students)

  3. I've been looking at the Vatican crowd as quite similar to the Soviet Commissariat. Maybe a little like the Wahabi religious police in Saudi Arabia. They don't seem to stand for anything other than their own privileges. And I have certainly suffered my own long season of feeling my heart to be scalded by their betrayals. Now, I give thanks for this Bishop who spoke his truth openly and doesn't hide after the punch was delivered to him. The more this comes out into the open, the more hope I have. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  4. zack, I'm aware of FOCUS. My daughter's Catholic college was under their idea of campus ministry for a couple of years when Morlino was the bishop here. I did some research on it back then, since they were referred to as Vatican Nazis by the rest of the campus. I learned everything I needed to know when I learned FOCUS was a Chaput enterprise.

  5. Molly, truly sunlight is the best disinfectant, but I sometimes think we also need a good dose of old fashioned Lysol to get things started.

    I swear to God I can not get my head around the amount of Vatican paranoia regarding women's ordination. The idea of women--even women as wives of priests-- sharing authority frightens them for some reason that goes well beyond 'tradition'. I can't help but wonder what that reason might be since it's important enough for them to let the Church die on the vine for lack of priests.

  6. I've been told by a permanent deacon friend in Milwaukee that, at an upcoming meeting with Archbishop Listecki, the bishop has recommended that deacons NOT sit with their wives.

    You women are soooo dangerous!

  7. Dave that is soooo sad. I keep praying for Catholic men to say enough. Our wives and mothers and sisters are not scary, they are like us, sometimes mistaken and sometimes not.

  8. Many good comments here. It is amazing how the Belgian bishops get enabled but those that support women are considered the worst of the worst. Why oh why?

  9. Bob, I have this theory that it goes back to the Theology of the Incarnation. It was Mary who was chosen to originally bring Spirit into matter. That is woman's function. Men lay the seed, but women bring Spirit into matter. Hence to make this point, there was no man involved in Jesus's incarnation.

    The Mass, ( and healing and other 'mystical events') is also all about bringing Spirit into matter. To reserve this to men is, shall I say it, unnatural. Our task as Christians is to bring Spirit into matter. It is really a shame that the Church is one of the biggest impediments to individuals accepting, understanding, and enacting this task. Bringing Spirit into matter can not be done in a state of fear. Maybe that's why sex is designed to release a ton of endorphins.

  10. not corrupt, just delusional -- I love it!

  11. How, then, do you remain a 'loyal Catholic,' whatever that means? I live in a rural area with no access, it seems, to others struggling with issues like this - I feel like I'm suffocating, church more of a battle to sit through than a spiritual feeding..... how do others do this?

  12. Meg. The internet has been a godsend in helping me make contact with other "enlightened catholics" who want the Vatican II vision to continue. The first rule is to have the courage to refuse to allow the institutional church to determine for you definitions such as who the "faithful catholics" are.

  13. Meg, I remain loyal to the idea of the Vatican II church. This was hardly the Church I grew up in, but it is the Church I found spoke to me. Part of that is I was fortunate enough to have really great pastoral professors as theologians in college. I have never lost faith in that version of Catholicism and Christianity. It has sustained me through lots of trials and tribulations.

    I can sympathize with your situation and personally know how difficult it can be to survive in a rural parish when you feel so marginalized. But like Dave says, there is always the internet. Making these kind of connections have their own very real validity. I suspect that's why the Vatican is all of a sudden very interested in having a say in what happens with bloggers on the internet.

  14. Is it such a bad thing having women in the Catholic church?

    It would be quite strange at first. as we are not used to it but then, it would be the same for Anglicans if they were dominated by men like the Catholic church is.

    The Pope talks about God none stop and praises Our Blessed Lady to the hilt and "what is she". Is she the only woman member allowed in the church!

  15. @philomena, In honesty, I never bought JPII's fixation with Mary as being particularly healthy. He and others seem to relate to a supernatural being over some sort who happens to be female, but don't seem to relate to the human woman who experienced all the blood sweat and tears a human woman could experience. Except for the sex thing of course. :)