Printed in full is Bishop Morris's response to his fellow Australian Bishops whose official statement of 10/22/11 essentially threw him under a bus. Bishop Morris speaks truth to power and we all know that's a career mistake. Just to jog your memory, here is the pertinent section of lies from the Australian Bishops Conference in their official statement on the Morris matter while in Rome for their Ad Limina visit:
|Thomas Cromwell, the gentleman to the left of Thomas More, looks sort of like Cardinal Pell. Cromwell certainly knew how to climb over the bodies of his betters in order to achieve rank and privilege.|
"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, which concerned not only matters of Church discipline but also of Church doctrine definitively taught, such as on the ministerial priesthood. What the Holy See did was fraternal and pastoral rather than juridical in character. 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."
Response by Bishop William Morris to the Australian Catholic Bishops Statement of 22 October 2011
24 October 2011
The statement of the Australian Catholic Bishops contains inaccuracies and errors of fact evidenced by the documentation relating to the issues concerning myself and a number of Vatican Dicasteries.
The Statement made by the Australian Bishops invites me to tell my
story which I will publish in the foreseeable future. I stand by my original statement which I gave to the Australian Catholic Bishops dated 2 May 2011, which I restate below.
“I had been hoping that I would never have to write this letter to you as it had always
been my desire that the difficulties experienced between myself and the
Congregations for Bishops, Divine Worship and Doctrine of the Faith would be able
to be resolved. Unfortunately 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. This has been confirmed in a letter from Pope
Benedict stating ‘Canon Law does not make provision for a process regarding
bishops, whom the Successor of Peter nominates and may remove from office’.
(I sure hope certain attorneys pay attention to that statement which in effect states bishops are employees of the Pope.)
“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 to be discussed, you are censored very quickly, told your
leadership is defective, that you are being unfaithful to the Magisterium, that you have
broken communio and you are threatened with dismissal. (I think it's important to note that Bishop Morris is referencing 'Rome' and not the papacy. Makes one wonder who really runs 'Rome'.)
“I have never seen the Report prepared by the Apostolic Visitor, Archbishop Charles
Chaput; I have never been shown any of the “evidence” that was gathered except for
an unsigned memorandum handed to be by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop
Ambrose de Paoli, which was filled with errors. There has been no canonical process
to establish a “Grave Cause” for removal; the accusations that my doctrinal teaching
contains errors and that I have a flawed pastoral leadership has never been backed by
facts except by some broad statements based on my Advent Pastoral Letter of 2006
which has been read inaccurately and interpreted incorrectly and used against me.
“In a letter of 12 November 2009, I pointed out to Pope Benedict that such evident
defects in the process, distortion of facts and a lack of care for the truth, which has
characterised this whole process, cannot be of ‘God’ when the truth is not respected
and exactness is not preserved.
Pope Benedict responded by focusing on the matters
raised in my Advent Pastoral Letter of 2006 which addressed local pastoral questions
and matters which are in ferment generally across the Church. I quote from his letter;
‘In your Advent Pastoral Letter 2006 – besides containing some very questionable
pastoral choices – there are at least two options presented that are incompatible with
the Catholic faith:
a) Ordaining women in order to overcome the priest shortage. Yet, the late Pope
John Paul II has decided infallibly and irrevocably that the Church has not
the right to ordain women to the priesthood:’
b) “recognizing Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church Orders”. But according
to the doctrine of the Catholic faith, ministers from these communities are not
validly ordained and therefore do not share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders;
and as such their actions are not joined to the ministerial priesthood.’
“How it can be said that my Pastoral Letter teaches these things is beyond me when it
purely refers to the fact that these are among many questions being discussed
internationally, nationally and locally.
To me this shows a total misreading and
misinterpretation of what my Pastoral Letter is saying. Pope Benedict further states
that my leadership of the priests and faithful of the diocese raises serious questions
and that the diocesan bishop must above all be an authentic teacher of the faith, which
is the foundation of all pastoral ministry. This is said without any foundation or
I have also been told that it is the bishops role to support the Pope in whatever
he says without question, to teach from the Catechism and the documents of the
Church and not to ask questions about topics that have been declared definitive or
closed. I ask you, where is the Spirit in this? I was also told by Pope Benedict that I
am too practical and it is the will of God that I resign. (This is totally obscene unless Benedict is suffering from some grandiose delusion that he is God.)
“The whole process has relied on the presumption that I would be compliant and
resign. However, I cannot do so in conscience because my resignation would be
based on my acceptance of a lie.
My resignation would mean that I accept the
assessment of my being unfaithful to the Magisterium and breaking communio. I
absolutely refute and reject this assessment. I do not accept that there is any grave
reason for me to resign and the conditions of Canon 401 §§ 1,2 not being met, it
would be dishonest of me to suggest that they had.
“To negotiate a way through this stalemate I was offered an extra-diocesan position,
to be artificially created, in which I was told I could continue to serve the Church in
Australia in another ministry more in keeping with my gifts and talents. As I have
been denied natural justice and due process, in conscience I could not accept such an
artificially created position for in Australian culture it would be seen and ridiculed for
what it is – a sinecure. (It's also standard corporate practice. Shock.)
“Given the circumstances that there is no canonical process regarding bishops, that
there is no separation of powers and the Successor of Peter nominates bishops and
may remove them from office, makes my position as Bishop of Toowoomba
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 so 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 asked Archbishop Philip Wilson, when
he met with the Holy Father in January 2010, to affirm my position that I would not
resign and put forward a proposal that I was prepared to negotiate an early retirement.
My proposal was that I would retire at seventy but this was found to be unacceptable.
The other possibility was to retire in eighteen months depending on whether or not the
sexual abuse cases I was dealing with here in the diocese were finalised. It became
evident that more time would be needed to finalise these cases and to pastorally care
for the victims and their families. Unfortunately this extension of time was denied,
the eighteen months was reduced to fifteenth by Pope Benedict and my retirement
would be announced on Monday 2 May 2011.
“I wish to thank you for your friendship and prayerful support over the eighteen years
I have been a member of the Australian Episcopal Conference. I have deeply
appreciated your prayers and support during that time and I will miss you. I am sure
our paths will cross sometime somewhere in the future and as the quote below says,
‘If we should bump into one another, recognize me’.
“A Quote from ‘A Man for All Seasons’ an alternative ending:
“In the London production of this play at the Globe Theatre the play ended as follows:
“Instead of the CROMWELL and CHAPUYS entrance after the HEADSMAN’S line
‘Behold – the head – of a traitor!, the COMMON MAN came to the centre stage,
having taken off his mask as the executioner, and said:
I’m breathing………Are you breathing too?.....It’s nice isn’t it? It isn’t difficult to
keep alive friends…………….just don’t make trouble – or if you must make trouble,
make the sort of trouble that’s expected. Well, I don’t need to tell you that. Good
night. If we should bump into one another, recognise me.’ ”
William M Morris, DD
Bishop Emeritus of Toowoomba
Yes, I'm sure most of our Catholic bishops know it's not a good idea to make trouble with Rome, or if they have to, to only make the sort of trouble that's expected. That's the kind of trouble that involves money and career climbing. The kind of trouble that Cardinal Pell seems quite good at. Poor Bishop Morris wasn't attempting to make any trouble at all. It was made for him, and most likely by the kinds of trouble Rome expects and supports from the clerical likes of Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Chaput. Which again makes me wonder who really runs Rome.
There was one statement in the above letter from Bishop Morris that really sent me into peals of laughter. It's a quote from Benedict in which Morris is told he is 'too practical' and that it is the 'will of God' that Morris resign. I don't remember any Gospel passage in which Jesus condemns leadership for being 'too practical' and therefor displeasing to God. Is being too practical sort of like being too secular or something? Does it mean that if Morris had spent more of his dioceses' money on fiddle back chasubles and purple cassocks and that sort of thing that he might have gotten a fairer hearing from his like accoutered clerical peers? Is it really the clothes that make the cleric? I have no idea. I just know this whole episode is a sad joke and that once again Rome has shown it is not worthy of any of us coming under it's roof.