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Closing the case of Bishop Bill Morris


Bishop Bill MorrisBefore making their joint visit to Rome the Australian Bishops promised that they would take up there the dismissal of Bishop Bill Morris and the process followed in it.

On their return they have issued a brief letter about the matter. They report that they met the heads of the two chanceries involved, and also held discussions among themselves. They do not seem to have spoken with Pope Benedict about the matter.

They explain that the Pope asked Morris to resign when the latter could not provide satisfaction that his views on catholic ministry were in accordance with Catholic teaching. The Pope dismissed him when Morris refused to resign. In acting in this way Pope Benedict was exercising his responsibility to confirm the church in unity of faith.

The Bishops accepted the action of Pope Benedict and reaffirmed the basis of their own position in communion.

They finally asserted their commitment to heal the wounds of division, to extend fraternal care for Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity within the Australian Catholic church.

The letter is an act of closure. But it bears reflection. The number of meetings mentioned makes it clear the bishops took seriously their commitment to raise the issue. We can also imagine the frustrations, mixed feelings and eventual satisfaction or disappointment they may have experienced.

The Bishops will be criticised for looking at the business through the lens of their own relationship to the Pope. But this was a matter of integrity. They are Catholic bishops whose responsibility for the unity in life and faith is exercised with and through the Pope as successor to Peter.

In the Catholic understanding the Pope has the personal responsibility and right to defend the church's unity in faith and unity. Once the bishops knew that in dismissing Morris, the Pope understood he was discharging this responsibility, they knew he was acting within his rights.

This is common Catholic ground. But the issues raised by Morris' dismissal were not about the Pope's right to act, but about whether his decision was wise and prudent in the manner of its making. It was not about the authority to govern but about the exercise of governance.

The reason why many people questioned the decision was that the best standards of governance in Western democracies are characterised by transparency, natural justice, and due process. It is common experience, not least in the treatment of asylum seekers, that when these are lacking, decisions are often made that do not respect the human dignity of those affected.

The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church has raised sharp questions about its standards of governance. That is why Morris' dismissal aroused such concern about due process and transparency.

The Bishops' description of the actions of the Holy as 'fraternal and pastoral, rather than juridic in character' points the questions raised about governance even more sharply. In Australia, at least, we have come to recognise how decisions reached in informal processes can harm and leave without recourse the people affected by them.

In the case of Morris this fraternal and pastoral process led to juridic consequences: the dismissal of a bishop and damage to his reputation.

Morris is necessarily the object of the Bishops' letter. From his perspective the letter could only be seen as the endorsement by his former colleagues both of the process that led to his dismissal, and of the verdicts that his faith in respect of ministerial priesthood is not that of the Catholic Church, and that he was breaching communion.

It is hard to imagine that someone who has given himself so faithfully to the service of the Catholic Church will not feel in this judgment a sense of personal rejection.

That invites reflection on the Bishops' admirable commitment 'to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division, to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia'.

These are commendable aims. But the unaddressed issues of governance will make them more difficult to realise. They drive a wedge between the human meaning of fraternal care and healing the wounds of division, and the more restricted meaning available in church circles.

In human terms the care we offer to a brother who believes he has been unjustly treated will be fraternal only if we are open to the possibility that the judicial process worked unjustly. We can heal wounds of division only if we are open to the possibility that each side might have acted wrongly. We can build bonds of charity only when we go out to people with open hands.

But if we are constrained to insist that our brother accept not only the court's verdict but also the fairness of the process, our care will not ordinarily be described as fraternal. If we address division by insisting that the other side must acknowledge our version of events, the result will not ordinarily be described as a healing of wounds. The meaning of fraternal care and the healing of the wounds of a division will be a private meaning. Others might describe our attitudes as reinforcing boundaries.

If unity and bonds of charity are to be built, it is best done by winning, not losing, our brothers and sisters. Even after reading the Bishops' letter it is easier to see what has been lost than who will be won. 


Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street

Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, Bishop Bill Morris, Church governance



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Existing comments

Thank you Andrew for this thoughtful and measured anlaysis of the issue of due process in regards to Bishop Bill Morris.
I am a product of the Second Vatican Council. In the last forty years I have seen the established church I once loved undermined by authoritarianism and cowardice. The hierarchy from the Vatican down has disgraced the Church with its watering down of the authority of Vatican Council and the unconscionable cover-up of paedophilia. I have no confidence in the hierarchy but still to some hope that the “people of God” will one day prevail.
What is sad if your commentary on the role of the Australian bishops is accurate is that they did not have the courage to stand up for him and themselves. Bishops around the world have kowtowed to the Vatican bureaucracy instead of asserting their own rightful authority within their own jurisdiction.
No wonder our churches are empty.

Tony | 25 October 2011  

From Michael Moorwood to Bill Morris - Simply a travesty of the reality of Jesus and his church. As John XX111 says 'Peace is the work of Justice'. The ACBC is no longer my church or the church of the community of believers that I belong to in jesus name. So I am one of the 93% who vote with my feet on Sunday morning. With Jesus I weep over his new Jerusalem and work and pray for the utter decay/demise of the current Vatican's rule and continued heresy. An example is the Vatican's refusal to carry out Jesus's command to 'whenever you meet break bread and share a cup of wine as my body and blood and presence among you' Why artificial restraints of celibacy, 8 years training in Philosophy and Theology, why no women. Let the community lay hands on one for an occasion, a month or year, why a life time?

These constraints deny Jesus's command and lead to appalling consequences of abuse of authority, sex, unjust dismissal, alcoholism and departure of the masses of the pilgrim people. We go our own way with our own Gods. In sadness.

Michael Parer | 25 October 2011  

well put, Andy. it's the old story: justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. This is not an issue, and the bishops are not in charge of a forum, where they are in receipt of some special information not available to the rest of us. The failure in due process and the ignoring of Bishop Morris's natural rights are matters of public record.

What beats me is that the bishops don't seem to appreciate the damage they have done to their already tarnished reputation as leaders. here was an opportunity to show they have learnt something from the internationally documented record of episcopal mismanagement of the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, made all the worse by their failure to appreciate that they are public figures whose constituencies ar as intelligent as they are and as capable of appraising information and reaching conclusions as they are.

Believing that words to the effect of Sir joh's advice to a young female journalist many years ago ("Don't you worry you pretty little face about that") will do any good to anyone is delusional. But the most harm to the unity of the Church is done by the damage they have done to their credibility.

Michael Kelly | 25 October 2011  

If this really was " a matter of integrity"one could well wonder about its whereabouts.

We've witnessed a dismembering of the Body of Chrit....the Head adrift, imperious,believing it has no need of any limbs and the limbs apparently, dubiously, in agreement.And yet how we all recall the apostle Paul's teaching about how each component of the body is dependent on its fellow parts!

There's also a certain irony in this visit of the Australian bishops to Rome..the opening by the Pope of the Domus Australia pilgrims accommodation centre and the reflection on the canonisation of Australia's first saint, Mother Mary MacKillop...an occasion for the reflective to perhaps recall how other, earlier, Australian bishops, had dealt with one of heir own.Christians all we may be,universally catholic?...a contradiction in terms.

Brian Haill - Melbourne | 25 October 2011  

Thanks, Andrew, for a carefully balanced response. I share your profound sense of hurt about the way it was done.

The Oz bishops' apparent sense of awe that two of the Curial Cardinals gave them a lot of time and attention I found quite disillusioning: they can listen so humbly to these two, well what about the huge cri de coeur from thousands in the Toowoomba diocese, and from round about the Catholic world? And what about the striking credibility of what Bp Bill Morris had to say about priestless parishes and Eucharist-deprived people? I reckon these Oz men have sold us - and one of their own - down the Roman drain.

Brian Gagen | 25 October 2011  

in a process that lasted ten years, during which consultations and trips and more consultations and trips, both ways to Rome and to Australia by Vatican's delegates, the issue of transparency and good governance might have been considered by all people concerned I hope.

Some "rules" of the Catholic Church seems to be obviously trespassing the ideal of good governance.

tony | 25 October 2011  

Ah, the word resignation is looming largely in my heart! I wish it weren't so! If I can't carry the weight why should I expect others to?

Trish Taylor | 25 October 2011  

How many more sincere, honest, faithful servants of the Church will be dismissed without any sign of due process before the hierarchy wake up to the fact that the only ones left are the brain dead yes men of yesterday. Oh Yes! The bishops will keep their day jobs but how will they sleep at night with any integrity. I am past being angry, I just feel incredibly sad.

Don Humphrey | 25 October 2011  

I'd like to be wrong but to me its another repeat of plugging the holes in one end of the boat while the other end is sinking. All the nice words and pastoral speak are looking all the more flimsy as we go from one Vatican exercise to another Again, 99% right but 100% wrong, depending on your starting point(your premise).

Fr. Paul Goodland | 25 October 2011  

Bishop Morris did not say he would ordain married men, etc. but asked that people would open their minds for discussion of such. For a person who did not commit any offences against Church teaching, and the other bishops know that, why couldn't they have "stood with" better?

Rob | 25 October 2011  

The governance of the last 2 Popes has allowed many dissident clergy to spread their heretical views and remain in good standing as well as allowing the sex abuse scandal to continue unabated by not taking the necessary disciplinary action that could have averted the whole catastrophe. At present we have a large number of Austrian priests being disobedient to the Pope, and yet Bishop Morris was sacked as Bishop of Toowoomba

Trent | 25 October 2011  

I continue to be impressed by how quickly Andrew Hamilton can present a succinct and fair analysis of breaking stories concerning the catholic church, both here and overseas. I had to have a good night's sleep before I could regain my composure and read the Bishops' letter again in the cool of the morning. Thanks to Andrew's article I can accept that the Pope has "the task of deciding what constitutes unity and communion in the church". But nothing in the Bishops' letter makes it clear the task was carried out in a manner that one would expect of a Servant of the Servants of God. A military court martial is more transparent.

Uncle Pat | 25 October 2011  

"They finally asserted their commitment to heal the wounds of division, to extend fraternal care for Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity within the Australian Catholic church." and yet you continue to stir the pot Andrew. "In Australia, at least, we have come to recognise how decisions reached in informal processes can harm and leave without recourse the people affected by them." True this does does happen in the church and other organisations in Australia.Perhaps its our general kill the Tall Poppy Syndrome effect or maybe at times politics which wound deeply. "That invites reflection on the Bishops' admirable commitment to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division, to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia" I really hope it happens. Especially their care and continuing bonds with him. "If unity and bonds of charity are to be built, it is best done by winning, not losing, our brothers and sisters. Even after reading the Bishops' letter it is easier to see what has been lost than who will be won." First I am glad you also added "sisters in your comment and what has been won is the understanding of the meaning "Catholic" Church and I hope obedience to "Peter" what has been lost is one more attempt to destabilise the Church's teaching authority.

Aanne Lastman | 25 October 2011  

The broadness & general nature of the statement leaves a lot to be desired. It presumes that the 'people of the Church' are uneducated or it hides behind lack of clarity. Just to refer to one part of the statement for the sake of brevity:- "what was at stake was the Church's unity in faith . . ." Obviously Church in this sentence doesn't refer to the people of God, or the people of Toowoomba diocese, Western Queensland, or the people of Queensland, but the hierarchial church. Perhaps this is a sign that most of us don't belong to the Church (capital C), but the church (of the people). My condolences to the people of the Toowoomba diocese, the people of the Queensland church, and all of the Australian church and of course to Bishop Bill Morris. It is sad to think that there is little resemblance between many of the current bishops & the founding leaders in this country who fought at Eureka, or those who showed resilience like our many forebears who came to this country, whether Irish catholic, or catholic from other countries.

Lorraine | 25 October 2011  

Do we all need to walk out (in protest) for one designated weekend to get the message across to the Australian bishops and beyond? I believe that many of the priests would understand the statement that is being made. Can anyone suggest a weekend?

Lorraine | 25 October 2011  

(Pharisees).Absolute.Power. and the world is witness.

catherine | 25 October 2011  

I am sorry to see the church I was brought up in continue it's blind walk towards a goal that others are leaving . It is good to have discipline ; but only where the subject allows for a growth of ideas .I still work at being a christian but not as a Roman Catholic .

Michael Ansted | 25 October 2011  

The actions of the bishops only addresses one issue - the actions of the Pope and the Vatican. But the most important issues - namely the needs and views of the laity in a democratic society has once again been ignored. It is not only the needs of the Toowoomba Diocese but every lay Catholic has been ignored by the bishops and the Vatican. In our open society everyone is entitled to an open process and everyone else is entitled to know hwy these decisions have been made. This has not been addressed by either the ACBC or the Vatican.

nick agocs | 25 October 2011  

Beautifully put. My protestant heart replies, that simple authority is never the answer to a question about love and justice. Or should that be, 'absolute power . . . . .'

moira rayner | 25 October 2011  

Bill Morris was denied natural justice. Surely the Church can, in 2011, allow for different opinions in theology. The Church is losing because of an outdated hierocracy and structure. On this issue the Pope got it wrong due to his sheltered life style and restricted social exposure. The world has moved on from dictatorships . It is time the Church did.

Rob Colquhoun | 25 October 2011  

Words from St Catherine of Siena to a group of cardinals: "you are flowers that shed no perfume, but a stench that makes the whole world stink." Obviously some things never change!

Ignatius | 25 October 2011  

During the past few months I have had the privilege of twice hearing Bp Morris address large groups of people. The manner and spirit in which he did this showed a man of deep faith and profound spiritual depth. I marvelled at the fact that we in Australia have in our midst a leader of such quality and I longed to see that kind of spirituality come from within the hierarchy in general. Lets continue to benefit from the wisdom and depth of the great christian leader we have in Bill Morris.

Judy Brown | 25 October 2011  

I agree with Andrew, Michael Kelly and Nick Agocs. Granted Anne Lastman, judgements and decisions are made without transparency, due process and natural justice in other organisations. The Church is 'in the world, but not of the world' and as a witness to its teaching it should be held to a higher standard. Unfortunately Bishop Morris' experience with the Vatican is frequently reflected in various Catholic organisations all over the country. Selection panels in Catholic organisations include people who are referees for certain applicants. It does not reflect well on the selector, who appears partial, or a successful applicant, who experiences a question mark over their ability because of the appearance of prejudice. Moreover, it reflects badly on organisation purporting to be Catholic. In public organisations, there is a requirement to excuse oneself where there is a conflict of interest, in the interests of transparency and accountability, and there are clear policies and procedures about these matters and any grievances arising. The Catholic Church places itself in the firing line by not adhering to community standards of governance. Reform is needed throughout.

Anonymous | 25 October 2011  

This piece confuses its concepts. 'Not judicial' is not the same thing as 'informal'. There correct analogy here is surely employing someone - while bishops are not employees, still the relationship has a lot of similarities. And dismissing them because they refuse to do the job they were chosen to do (and I'm sorry but telling people to be open to possibilities that the Church has explicitly said are not possibilities is indeed teaching error)does not require one to go to court. Rather it requires, as clearly happened here, you to explain to them what they are doing wrong and offer them the chance to take corrective action. If they refuse then yo might if you are feeling kind, offer them the chance to resign and thus save face. But if they won't dismissing them becomes the person who makes the appointments decision. And provided you've gone through these steps, and aren't discriminating against them on grounds of race, sex etc, no court will overrule the decision of the employer.

Kate Edwards | 25 October 2011  

Saint Peter would be rolling in his grave to see what has eventuated 2000 after he first headed the Jesus movement and how it had become a bureaucratic behemoth that has lost any link with the Holy Spirit.

AURELIUS | 25 October 2011  

Thank you Fr. Andrew for a summary clear & concise, but the statement issued by the ACBC will do nothing to affirm Bishop Morris as a faithful Bishop & Pastor, or heal his wounds of misunderstanding. Neither will it give me and many of my Catholic friends any reason to have trust in the collegiality of our Bishops. What astonishes me is the treatment by the Vatican of that dissident body calling themselves the Society of Pius X, who still do not accept the Decrees of Vatican 11, their founder was excommunicated and one of their Bishops is a Holocaust denier,..... ? It is a case of polishing the brass as the ship goes down!!

Margaret M.Coffey | 25 October 2011  

If the process of dialogue with Bishop Morris was to be open and transparent, it seems to me that the Pope and Rome would have had to risk talking about, in a public way, what they have decided should not be discussed: the possibility of women priests. Benedict XVI has passed on an opportunity that may have had in it the possibility of change, or perhaps a better understanding of the status quo. Bishop Morris gave him that opportunity.

The Spirit of Jesus will always be alive and well in the church. All of us, regardless of our place in the church, are invited by this Spirit to be open, loving and compassionate towards one another. Benedict has denied us the opportunity - in this case - to see him as open, loving and compassionate. Perhaps he has denied himself the opportunity to grow in the open mind that compassion can give. It seems we shall never know.

Andrew | 25 October 2011  

Thank you Margaret Coffey for that wonderful metaphor: "polishing the brass as the ship goes down!!" Exactly.

Janet | 25 October 2011  

If Bishop Morris could not stand with the Church in faith and unity on a particular matter and persisted with this over a considerable number of years then there had to be consequences. If the consequences were arrived at informally it does not detract from the act of disunity with the Church persisted with by the Bishop. The lesson for the Church is to ensure that any process - formal or informal is known to the Church, as too the possible consequences and the reasons for imposing them.

Pat | 25 October 2011  

One problem I have is trying to reconcile an imperialistic and authoritarian papacy with the somewhat nebulous ministry of Peter (who Paul condemned to his face). I must confess that I have come to the conclusion that the hierarchy is somehwat narcissistic. Is this not what a certain Irish politician said recently? Another problem I have is with the hierarchy stoning the prophets. Does the Holy Spirit only work through the bishop of Rome? Does the Vatican have the monopoly on wisdom?

Steve | 25 October 2011  

Intersting articla about Bishop Morris.

Sadie | 25 October 2011  

Morris was accorded the highest levels of juridical process second not even to common law 1 the process involved years of dialogue unheard of in civil jurisdiction 2 yet he treated definitive teaching on priestesses with sly contempt["if the church allows women priests i will ordain them" 3 such at best trivialises definitive teaching 4. In highest standards of civil sub judice law,arch chaput exercised pontifical secret to protect privacy of all witnesses 5.if morris still cant guess why he was censured then ask the rest of australia 6. As i pointed out on irish association of catholic priests forum-vatican didn't treat morris with kid gloves but with prenatal mittens[ask gaillot;kung;haight;lefebvre;curran;nugent; etc etc

FR john michael george | 25 October 2011  

Thank you, Andrew, for such a clear and charitable response to what is a very sad conclusion to a desperate chapter in Australian Church History. I can't help remembering that Jesus chose Peter to head the Church after Peter had denied Him three times. Bishop Morris would not have treated his fellow-bishops as he has been treated.

Anne Forbes | 25 October 2011  

It seems to me that with this dogmatic attitude the Pope along with his loyal cardinals and bishops will bring about their own downfall.

In Scripture Jesus said that in order to access the Kingdom of God, one needs to change the way one thinks about God. It takes courage to do this: something our Australian bishops seem to lack.
Of all these comments I think Ignatius has it spot on when he quoted the words of Catherine of Sienna: ‘you are flowers that shed no perfume.’

If Jesus appeared in the Vatican he would say: ‘Have I been with you all this time and still you do not know me’? (John 14:9).

Trish Martin | 25 October 2011  

Andy, your analysis shows how Christ's Church behaves in a most unChristlike manner in its own governance, the handling of the sexual abuse crisis being the worst example with the sacking of Bishop Morris further illustrating the lack of accountability. The postings above overwhelmingly show that the people of the Church are increasingly condemning such behaviour.

Vatican II pointed to the importance of collegiality and subsidiarity in the governance of the Church, concepts that are implicitly rejected by the Church’s centralisation of power in the Curia and the Pope’s assertion of autocratic direction well beyond any sense of the limited doctrine of infallibility.

Canon law (and good governance practice) reinforces that "Christ's faithful have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the church." (Canon 212, par 3). That is exactly what the people of the Church are increasingly doing.

Let’s pray that our bishops and the Pope respond effectively to these desperate voices of the faithful as we approach the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. The alternative is perhaps an uprising not unlike the Arab Spring.

Peter Johnstone | 25 October 2011  

The comment which referred to my name Anne Lastman from Anonymous does not require an answer whilst the individual chooses to remain anonymous.ta very much

Anne Lastman | 25 October 2011  

Pity so few Catholics chose to comment on this article. Kate Edwards, Pat, and Fr George have eliminated largely uninformed emotion from their comments. Gets a bit tiring reading the wish lists of self-professed great Catholics for a Church that meets their needs and desires rather than the needs in conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Seems a great waste of time when there of hundreds of Christian churches to choose from just around the corner which meet the requirements many of these people demand. The Catholic Church according to the word of God Himself will survive. There !! I have stated the great heresy in contradiction of the new liberation theology. Admirable that the Catholic bishops will not send Morris to Coventry but will offer him support and understanding. Such will, I suspect , be like water off a duck's back considering the difficulties this fellow had understanding some pretty simple, well-known tenets of the Catholic Church, understood by pretty much every other Christian non-Catholic Church around the world.

john frawley | 25 October 2011  

I am so very sad at this response from the Bishops' Ad Limina visit. If I was younger, feistier, more passionate, I'd be calling now for an 'Occupy the Church' demonstration (that is, if there are enough left in our Church to make up some sizeable peaceful demonstrations). Haven't we, the remnant flock, every cause to demonstrate and protest at the Top-Heavy-handed approach to matters in our Church Nation? I do NOT like the 'just do as I say' leadership (dictatorship) - do they (the hierarchy) have any idea how wronged and unheard we feel? We have so much to protest about - and I wonder if Jesus would be protesting with us? Sounds like the Jesus I know. Glen Avard

glen avard | 25 October 2011  

The question I am left with is what it will take for the Australian Bishops to take a stand with the majority of Catholics in Australia who view the dismissal of Bishop Morris as a gross injustice?

terry fitz south brisbane | 25 October 2011  

Thanks. I did not expect an answer, I was simply acknowledging your point (about a lack of governance in secular organisations too). I choose to remain anonymous as I am linked to a number of Catholic organisations, and I am mindful that some people might draw erroneous conclusions about those organisations due to the reference in my previous comment. My point was that the Church bears witness to God's love, and without appropriate mechanisms to ensure organisational integrity, the Church's words appear hollow. St Bernard said we should turn our words into deeds.

Anonymous | 25 October 2011  

The tragic disintegration of the Australian Catholic Church will only be hastened by this letter of the Australian bishops regarding Bishop Bill Morris at the end of their visit to Rome.

Frankly I find the statement appalling! No! I find it frightening that our bishops could write to us in these tis way. May God help the Church in Australia, if this is the best our bishops can offer to produce peace, unity and healing!

Please read what the statement says and more importantly what it does not say. These supposed leaders of the Australian Church are treating their people as morons and giving them the ?mushroom treatment? ? that is the bishops are keeping their people in the dark and feeding them you know what!

The bishops make the most grave and weighty accusations against a validly ordained bishop of the Church who has not been laicized or defrocked. They say, ? ? 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.? Nowhere do they have the honesty to tell their people exactly what Bishop Morris ever said or wrote that may have constituted these ?difficulties?.

It is the Australian bishops who should be disciplined by the Pope. They have betrayed both their duty to be true pastors and to be faithful to the teachings the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, ?Lumen Gentium?. ]
The bishops allege, ?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.? Again this is a most grave allegation. Were it true, it is incredible that Bishop Morris is allowed to continue as a Catholic Bishop in good standing.
Now I quote the bishops? final words, ?We return to Australia determined to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division, to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia.? May I suggest that Bishop Morris integrity so beautifully displayed such exemplary charity and composure in the face of extreme provocation and insults from fringe groups of Catholic in Australia that I doubt he needs the bishops? ?fraternal care?. As for healing ?any wounds of division? the bishops have made matters considerably worse by the high handed way in which they fail to take their people into their confidence and give a full and open explanation of all aspects of the dismissal of Bishop Morris.

If the bishops want ?to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia?, may they could well begin by taking a page of out of the loving ministry of Bishop Morris who has proved himself such a fine pastor. They could learn from the pastoral style of his Pastoral Letter of 2006.

Far from closing the case of Bishop Bill, the bishops have only made matters far worse.

EUGENE AHERN | 25 October 2011  

Why is E.S. so worked up about the Bishop Morris case, when it completely overlooks the case of Fr John Speekman in Sale? From the point of view of the outsider, there is far more transparency in the case of Bishop Morris - thanks in part to the priests in his diocese who published that chronology of events - which, in the opinion of many, tells more against him than not. We at least know the presenting issues in the Morris case: his statements in the notorious pastoral letter. Do we know anything with as much certainty about the Speekman case? Let alone the rationale of the Signatura's decision to affirm the removal of a priest from his parish? And yet, irony of ironies, Fr Speekman has humbly accepted the decision of Rome. He has not uttered a word of reproach. He has submitted entirely to the decision, and has quietly resumed pastoral duties according to the dictates of his (new) ordinary. No speeches. No interviews. No grandstanding. I search for reasons as to the pronounced disparity of reactions vented here (and elsewhere). Surely it's not sourced in the fact that one "victim" is a "liberal" Catholic and the other a "conservative"?

HH | 25 October 2011  

The bishops of Australia would find their churches bulging and their dioceses energised if they only took the pathway of the Spirit and. as one voice, supported Bill Morris

Marg | 25 October 2011  

In one way or another I've been in the professional employment of the Catholic Church for over forty years. It never ceases to amaze me that Church authorities continue to provide answers to questions NOONE is asking and continue to miss the issues that preoccupy the body of the Faithful. It really is the celebrated dialogue of the deaf. One further instance is the matter of Bishop Morris. The issue is not his alleged heterodoxy on which so many - Kate, my friend John Frawley and others - seem to be focused. No evidence of heterodox belief or teaching has ever been presented or adjudicated. In fact, the bishop's own statements are that he believes and supports what the Church believes. No contrary evidence has been offered. In reality, the issue is quite otherwise than any discussion of orthodoxy/heterodoxy. What is on the minds of most people is something quite different: the abject failure of the Australian bishops and those with whom they had discussions in Rome to address what has been the bone of contention all along - who is alleging what about the bishop, who has reported what to Roman authorities, who in Rome or who, acting on behalf of Rome, has come to what conclusions and made what decisions based on what evidence and leading to what conclusions? The world has moved a long way beyond tolerating - and the last Pope apologised for - treating Galileo in this way: unnamed accusers carrying evidence to Rome for consideration by who knows who (the faceless men of the Roman Curia and their agents, both the Papal Visitator and his satellites in Australia) of what data that the accused never had presented to him for answering before the faceless men got to give their answer. Whatever the definitive teaching may be - and that is has always been problematic as the history of definitive teaching throughout the history of the Church attests - there are another couple of questions: natural rights and due process. Until those are addressed, no amount of testimony that the bishops had a lovely time talking to their friends in the Roman dicasteries will produce anything more than a conviction that the bishops and the Vatican live in a parallel universe, answering questions noone is asking and ignoring what is uppermost in the minds of most observers, myself included: is the Catholic Church at its most senior levels ever going to be capable of recognising it has something to learn about embodying in deed what it proclaims in word about the entailments of respect for human dignity?

Michael Kelly, Bangkok | 25 October 2011  

Well done Andrew. Once again you have sensed the Australian lay Catholic pulse. I read the letter from the ACBC and once agian my heart sank.I note the majority of respondents by far, expressed their sadness at the response of our 'leaders'.Sadly from what I observed on my visit to the Vatican, they are totally out of touch with the reality of the Australian Church. I remain a practising Catholic,but I too have experienced the injustice that comes with of being an employee of the Church . I would never in my widest dreams work for the Church again in a paid capacity again. Bil Morris gave his life for the Church he so obviously loves. Sadly like so many unsung employees of the various Church organs, the moment you try to right a wrong or injustice or an abuse of power, you pay the price. Bill has sadly paid that price.I can not hope to imagine the pain and rejection he must be feeling.

Gavin O'Brien | 25 October 2011  

I noticed that the letter from the Australian bishops doesn't include any reference to Jesus whatsoever, or even mention His name once for that matter. They mention communion, unity and Petrine ministry - but what's it all for? What does it mean?

AURELIUS | 26 October 2011  

What screams out as absurd in the Bishop Morris affair is the idea that "Pope Benedict was exercising his responsibility to confirm the church in unity of faith." As shown in the majority of comments above, the Pope's decision and the all too ready acquiescence by the remaining Australian bishops constitute yet more nails in the coffin of 'unity of faith'. And in what practical way can the bishops fulfil "their commitment to heal the wounds of division, ...and to strengthen the bonds of charity within the Australian Catholic church."? Don't they understand that Australian Catholics no longer see their priest as the one educated person in the village? Don't they understand that Vatican II was welcomed as a (then) Vatican recognition of the coming to maturity of Catholic parishioners as adults? Can't they feel the despair of their own parishioners at the (present) Vatican's return to the angry school master model of enforcing an empty external appearance of unity? Michael Ansted, the Roman Catholic church needs you and the many who walk out with you. Without you, our Church will take even longer to regain the Vatican II belief in the laity, or perhaps simply fade away with the passing of the present hierarchy.

Ian Fraser | 26 October 2011  

Thank you Andrew for a balanced assessment. Let's be frank, the only time our bishops will feel able to question "due process" in the public forum will be after retirement when they may write "the book". That is weak in the extreme I believe. Could not at least some of them affirm the Pope's decision while being able state clearly that due process and fairness may be questionable in this case?

Paul McQuillan | 26 October 2011  

I agree with the comments from Tony, Michael Parer and Judy Brown. An ever deepening sadness is what I feel when I read the letter from the Aus Bishops about the dismissal of Bill Morris.Like Michael many of us are choosing to ".. go our own way with our own Gods" The Bishops hope for healing so I hope they reach some in their own ranks because perhaps deep down they are feeling very bad about their betrayal of Bill Morris and many Aussie Catholics... is that too much to hope for?

Janet Dolan | 26 October 2011  

How could it come to this? Their Eminences Levada and Oullett apparently thought they had finally signed off on the Bishop Morris chapter. But here, on this website and on numerous others, we have this continuing outpouring of many mixed emotions. Until the Vatican started its investigation few people in the world had ever heard of such a remote outpost in the Catholic world as the Toowoomba diocese. I wonder if the men in the vatican now wish they had never started out down this path.

Joe Duffy | 26 October 2011  

Carefully and correctly argued, Andrew. I suppose there's one minor extenuation, viz. that the Bishops were asked to take the matter up with Rome; not that they could easily have declined and visited while pretending that nothing had happened. Therein lies the dilemma of reconciling fraternal love for Bill Morris without compromising their responsibilities as participants in the Petrine tradition. On the face of it then, they faced a difficult task to build bridges as well as to mend and reinforce fences: the pontoonal analogy privileges objectivity and even neutrality, while the latter foregrounds context and, inevitably, papal authority. The resolution, it seems, would have been to preface their involvement in the issue with a statement of first principles, chief among which should have been that there can be no love without criticism. In not doing this in such a highly emotionally charged atmosphere, it seems that Bill has been revictimised and Rome also treated unworthily. An opportunity missed, I'm afraid, because the prospect of the entire ACBC addressing the issue with the Pope himself is unlikely to occur unless they specifically request it. And where natural justice is in question, the issue may not be resolved until this happens.

Michael Furtado | 26 October 2011  

In his letter to the Galatians, (chap.11) Paul wrote that he directly stood up to Peter "because he was clearly in the wrong". It is not Catholic teaching that the Pope cannot make a mistake, and surely the gates of hell will not prevail if someone points it out.

Jim Jones | 26 October 2011  

Of course this is far from the end of the matter ,as ACBC likely hopes .They will attempt to consolidate their position by joining with Rome to appoint a Pell clone as Bishop of Toowomba .Surely the good people of that Diocese (the majority are )will passionately reject such an appointment which will be typically executed without any consultation. Can we then hope that all thinking followers of Christ,within the Australian Church will go to the barracades with them

John Kersh | 26 October 2011  

How sad it is that the very hypocrisy that has turned away so many believers from the Catholic Church is again being flaunted in the treatment of Bishop Bill Morris. The Australian Bishops know well the situation in which this issue has occurred and that the accusations are false. They must also know that to 'provide fraternal care and heal the wounds of division' they cannot in turn affirm the false allegations. If they cannot be honest they need to say so.
I believe that Jesus affirmed the 'good shepherd' and rebutted the Pharisees when they missed the point of their vocation.

Michelle Sydney | 26 October 2011  

Thank you for your considered article, Andrew.

Neither the Vatican nor Australian Bishops will ever be able to close down (warranted) outrage at the injustices perpetrated by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, when they make such example as Bishop Bill Morris - dismissed at a time when his 'flock' most needed him (after the Queensland floods.)

How arrogant to offer Bishop Bill "fraternal care." It is the poor Australian Bishops who need care after manifesting such cowardice in the face of a hierarchy that seem to live in the Middle Ages rather than the 21st Century. Have they not understood how Christ's Faithful have moved on and educated themselves, have grown in the Spirit.

After Vatican II, there was hope for Christ's Faithful, but alas the lights have been dimmed in the Vatican and the hierarchy blinded as a result.
The Austrian Bishops at least have brought back some hope that change will eventuate in due course.

Eve | 26 October 2011  

hey terry fitz you must be absolutely exhausted after your scientific survey of majority of aussie catholics[though i wasn't surveyed!! you conclude gratuitously[?] "the majority of Catholics in Australia view the dismissal of Bishop Morris as a gross injustice?" no doubt you will share details of your rigorous scientific survey with pie charts and bar charts;dependent and independent variables;survey assumptions etc etc; review of literature etc
did you survey catholics on tiwi islands,santa teresa mission etc or did you just make it all up with your personal projection on majority?

john michael george | 26 October 2011  

hey John Kersh before assuming all Toowoomba catholics side with Morris try using scientific surveys-best to use Terry Fitz of Shonkey Surveys Inc-he tailor makes surveys to fit the +Bill

father john michael george | 27 October 2011  

Am I being over sensative when I deduce that John George is totally lacking in respect (a wart we all often wear) towards Terry Fitz ,when he writes terry fitz or is he a terrible typest ,such as I . Who needs to waste a fortune to conduct such a survey when the majority have ticked all the boxes by simply not being on a pew within our churches?

How I yearn to share this comment with ACBC(in a 5 year old booklet )which came to me randomly this morning & again I lack the skill to paste it directly ."Why is it so hard for leaders to listen ? Because leaders love to talk and as they gain more authority they think they have less reason to listen .Leaders by their very nature tend to be removed from the frontline of battle .To win ,they must constantly listen to those who are in the trenches and rely on that infomation to make wise decisions .Before Ezekiel was qualified to prophesy or lead God's people he wrote;" I sat among them for seven days-overwhelmed.At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me (Ez 3:15-16 NIV )

John Kersh | 27 October 2011  

i]+Morris wants the 'chaput report' containing the names of those who dobbed him in-
ii]chaput of red Indian ancestry can sniff 'scalpers'[which is why reports are sub judice to protect witnesses from angry chiefs expelled from the tribe-
iii]without protection of pontifical secret[or sub judice in civil law] who would witness against accused defendants in the face of possible retribution and lefty lynch mobs with trial by fury and media??-viva temple guards!!!

FATHER john michael george | 27 October 2011  

i]leaving aside john kersh intrusive surveys inc on "peoples warts"
kersh noted("a wart we all often wear)"
ii]check anti bishop db's re bishops on front line
[cardinal pell/arch wilson/arch hickey/pope benedict et alii are frontliners extraordinaire

father john michael george | 27 October 2011  

When I read what the Roman Church does to its own I weep for those who faithfully endeavour to live the Gospel. It reflects on us all as Christians giving support to those who despise the Gospel values as sham. As an Anglican with a strong sense of being Catholic I despair when I see how cruel we can be to each other. Christian unity as the defence for this Papal action is as nothing when we see the assault on our shared values and commitment by the forces of secularisation and materialism. Can we not be more tolerant of diversity of opinion within and address the world of pain without.

graham patison | 27 October 2011  

I have read the history or "chain of events" that led to Bishop Morris being forced to retire from his position. They are available on the Catholica website. It was interesting reading for someone not intimately involved in the hierarchies of the Catholic Church. It seems to be a story of the forces of conservatism, approaching Rome with the hope/plan to have Bishop Morris brought into line or ultimately removed. Well they were successful. But why did they approach Rome? It seems so petty and small-minded and fearful an action. It also seems that the issues were: General Absolution (reigned in on that one), wearing a tie instead of the bishops garb (wow), promoting priests based on merit rather than seniority (wow), giving too much voice to the people of the parish, opening dialogue on ordination of ministers (women, Anglicans, married Catholics) - there I said it out loud.

Can I be sacked from my job by the pope if I put it in writing? Well apparently Bishop Morris can. That is the "notorious pastoral letter". How sad that I belong to a church that allowed a pope (who we apparently are in the throes of canonising) to say women will never be priests and no one wearing a bishops tie, or any clerical garb, may ever, ever say it out loud or put it in writing, or else Rome will hunt you down and put you out of the church. Sure. It took them awhile but they forced him out in the end. Astounding. Notorious. Bishop Morris came across as a very decent human being on the Compass show. I feel sorry for us Catholics. I'm glad I didn't go to WYD in Sydney and listen to a latin mass.

Melissa | 27 October 2011  

What a pity so many have to leave the church or are persecuted, out of conscience which has been formed by Catholic teaching.
In fact so many have even been shown the door to be rid of them, which in many cases is the preference.

With Anglicans making their way across the road to Rome, no mention is there of those making their way across the road to them.

L Newington | 27 October 2011  

Power corrupts, & this goes for the Roman Dicastries as well as any other institution: "hang on to power at all costs"!Pray for +Benedict & for +Bill.

Peter Quilty | 27 October 2011  

"power corrupts"[if you peter quilty refer to '+power' contact chaput asap] what is it about Aussie bishops these days? however you may end up 'peter guilty' re an innocent bishop!

father john michael george | 28 October 2011  

The bishops and Roman authorities overlooked in this sad saga that any small, vocal and persistent group has the capacity to have its complaints remove a bishop. Did the Oz bishops and Roman officials appreciate fully that there is a faulty internal complaints process. Any bishop anywhere should be concerned to offend anyone as they might be "retired", especially if a group is persistent and vocal. Does this now mean an increase in a "safety first" approach by ecclesial leadership? A precedent exists for removing a bishop who does not represent the views of some disenchanted folk, provided the upper echelons agree with them or are tired of being hounded. The responses in Eureka Street and other on-line forums regularly evidence that there are a goodly number of people disenchanted with their ecclesial leaders for various reasons, representing views across the theological spectrum. Does this mean, given the Darling Downs precedent, that some might be inspired to create more Emeritus Mitres? +Bill appears to have been naive at worst but deeply sensitive to future diocesan pastoral realities. His "retirement" has now created which solutions? The Oz bishops failed to address these issues that are shared across all dioceses, especially rural.

DFB | 28 October 2011  

Isn't that the way the catholic church is run? -- informal understandings among conformists that exclude or suppress any voices that might prompt people to think or to act creatively. Bp Morris has rightly refused to take his procedural objections off the table.

Joe O'Leary | 28 October 2011  

It's hard not to conclude that the bishops' main interest was in saving their own jobs with this wimpy exercise. It may make the bishops feel good, but I doubt it will do much for most of the church at grass roots level.

If the Vatican wants only those bishops who will fall into lockstep behing the Pope, they will end up only with second-raters. If they want a vibrant, forward-looking church, they need to encourage debate and discussion; if they don't, the church will become a dead thing and slowly implode, just like the old Soviet Union. It's worth reflecting though that the church has always resisted change of any sort throughout its history, and has always had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards enlightened thought.

Occupy the Church, indeed! What a marvellous thought.

Carolyn White | 28 October 2011  

Unity - means agreeing with the Pope and not being able to have a position that is derived from personal reflection and study of the Gospels and Church law etc as Bishops are generally very learned men of God. The hierarchical Pope beats the lowly Bishop - and jesus wept.

Laurence | 28 October 2011  

re the bishop Morris reply to bishops letter:
"Jesus said for Peter and his successors

"whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven"

-well Peter's successor has loosed Bishop Morris from Toowoomba; and heaven champions the decision"

FATHER john michael George | 28 October 2011  

John Michael George: Did Jesus actually say that?. The Greek is "Whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven" It is future perfect. As French says in his commentary: to say that whatever Peter looses will be loosed in heaven gives the wrong impression that heaven will follow Peter. In fact, Peter gets it wrong again when Paul has to condemn him to his face.

Steve | 28 October 2011  

Bishop Morris is not the only one:

a]Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen: The former archbishop of Seattle found himself under investigation after the Vatican received letters complaining of liturgical abuses. In 1983, Archbishop James Hickey of Washington conducted a visitation of the Seattle archdiocese. His report to the Vatican resulted in the appointment of an auxiliary bishop in 1985, and Hunthausen was stripped of much of his authority. He retired in 1991
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: The leader of traditionalist Catholics was excommunicated in 1988 for ordaining four bishops. Lefebvre rejected the reforms of Vatican II, believing the council opened the church to the negative influences of communism and modernism. He also rejected the “new Mass.” During the reform council, he led a group of traditionalists who firmly opposed anything new or different. After the council, he established his own seminary in Econe, Switzerland. Paul VI suspended him for ordaining the graduates of this seminary. John Paul II made many attempts to reconcile Lefebvre to the post-Vatican II church, but the episcopal ordinations made Lefebvre’s excommunication automatic

Bishop Jacques Gaillot: He was removed from his position as bishop of Evreux, France, in 1995. The Vatican, and several of his brother bishops, saw his advocacy of homosexuals and contraception as too unorthodox for a bishop

father john michael george | 28 October 2011  

A most admirable, sane and balanced article.

I think there is a tremendous difference between the viewpoint from within the Vatican and that in the real world outside.

This sort of dialogue needs to continue. Bill Morris is a wonderful man and was an exemplary bishop. He needs to be loved, cherished and applauded for real action in the real world. He is still a loyal, devoted and exemplary Catholic. We need more men and women like him in all fields in Australia.

Edward | 29 October 2011  

It saddens me greatly to see the demise of the Catholic Church in Australia. Until there is new & strong leadership in the Bishops of Australia there will be less Catholics attending a once strong & vibrant Church!

Margaret O'Donoghue | 30 October 2011  

a]Hey Steve why split hairs about god approving pope's arbitration to sack Morris
b][in your hypothesizing god had already given celestial sanction to the pope's decision in eternity-
c]again. there is no before and after in the mystery of eternity[the eternal now]-morris sacking was a heavenly predetermined conclusion even in your exegesis-
d]2000 years magisterial hermeneutics weighs in authoritatively "loosing Morris on earth in toowoomba corresponds to all-out foregone heavenly approval
e]no "future perfects" in heavenly eternity but only eternal present tense[=Thomistic philosophy 101 De Deo Uno-re his property of Timeless existence]

father john michael george | 30 October 2011  

John Michael George: a) Who says God has approved Benedict's sacking of Bill Morris? Is that wishful thinking? How could God approve an act of gross injustice? b) Where do you get that I hypothesised that God gave prior approval? You completely miss the point that Frenceh is making. Once again, how can God approve injustice? c) Ridiculous and makes a mockery of Sacred Scripture d) Hermeneutics named after the god Hermes, the god of thievery amongst other things. e) Jesus was speaking to the disciples in this dimension, not in eternity

Steve | 03 November 2011  

Andrew, I read your article with great interest and it seems to accurately capture my current feelings towards the catholic church. I'm now 41 and father to a son & daughter and I'm determined they should establish a relationship with Christ as the foundation stone for good values and living a moral life. There is no question in my mind that my faith in Christ is worth passing on to my kids, but the fundamental question for me remains "is the catholic church worth passing on to my kids"? I find it unbelievable the Vatican can take such swift action against Bp Morris, but do "sweet bugger all" about stamping out paedophiles. Rome’s absolute authority is responsible for the real issue that is crippling the Catholic Church, sex abuse.

The church's response to sex abuse has been at best clumsy and at worst rank hypocrisy, a deliberate effort to conceal and deny responsibility in order to protect the good name of church. The single most important reason why people of all ages are turning away from the Catholic Church is trust. They no longer trust the church with the truth or with their children.

Nick Lane | 04 November 2011  

STEVE your future perfect is a mere anthropomorphism-in fact god eclipses and transcends earthly time and nit picky verbal tenses

a]jesus in his human nature used verbs though in his divine nature he knows beyond time that in an instant god approves papal rulings in accord with their degree of authority
b]god is not limited by your greek philologist-but gives the magisterium of 2000 years the authorization to exegete that petrine passage[Mt 18:18 in accord with the fuller meaning[sensus plenior] confirmed in Vatican 2

fathe rjohn michael george | 04 November 2011  

Thank you Andrew for your review. I work for local government and the good governance and fair play in that arena, far surpasses that which has been handed out in this case of Bishop Morris.

Patrick Kempton | 04 November 2011  

nick lane after venting your spleen against 'sweet bugger all vatican' try facts


father john michael george | 05 November 2011  

I read the article you referred to and it would seem to be a shabby piece of tabloid journalism - fair call, but I stand by my comments. How could so many sex abuse cases be exposes throughout the UK, United States, Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Belgium, Australia and many other countries if the Vatican truly had their finger on the pulse with an absolute commitment to stamp it out? The culpability extends long before Pope Benedict’s reign. In my local diocese there is clear evidence that senior church leaders were told by concerned parents and parishioners about offending priests and the usual response was to simply ship them off to another parish, doing “sweet bugger all”. The police have done most of the heavy lifting on sex abuse by clergy, not the Vatican. You and I can argue the toss until the cows come home, but the figures don’t lie, church attendances in Australia are falling like a stone, the people are voting on the Vatican’s track record with their feet. The departure of Bp Bill Morris is a great loss and that’s just plain sad.

Nick Lane | 06 November 2011  

A]Mr lane no head of an international body of 1 billion can know of ground level probs in every nation of the world especially when local decentralised manager has difficulty enough knowing networks of sub branches-add on fact that each bishop is sui generis in vat2 teaching and is meant to run his own diocese B]Your abuse anachronistic reductionisms is at best myopic showing scant regard to psychiatric wisdom of yore-the1917 canon law was far from streamlined to cope with abuse cases-making it near impossible to try administrative handling with such-the accused only had to prove insanity and was thereby beyond prosecution in church law C]MANY countries lacked child abuse mandatory reporting[eg Ireland D]beside the legal culture at the time[re mandatory reporting there was the clinical wisdom of psychiatrists re pedophiles viz they could be cured with therapy[a position not held in 2011[thus bishops were advised to send abusers to psychiatrists who advised recycling all these factors obliterate Mr lane's facile smug anachronisms E[ HARD STATS SHOW UNDER JP2/RATZINGER DUUMVIRATE ON ABUSE-THAT CLERGY ABUSE DECLINED RADICALLY AND RAPIDLY http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_jCLJb9lPZaQ/S7H6NRl27LI/AAAAAAAACUw/0qKw3dQewLI/s400/sex-abuse-graph-2.jpg

father john michael george | 07 November 2011  

subsidiarity was vat 2 buzz word on bishops-it flopped miserably on sex abuse now they upbraid Vatican for not being centralised enough re bishop responsibilities or irresponsibilities in fact who could direct day to day decisions of over 2000 bishops worldwide?

father john michael george | 07 November 2011  

John Michael George

You seem to believe that everything the bishop's of Rome have said over the centuries is "magisterium" and is, in fact, God-inspired and God-approved. I'm sure we could dig up more than a few papal stetements that we the Church no longer accept. Are we no longer bound to these? If not, who "loosed" us from them?

Don't forget: "Whatever you bind/loose...." was also given to the other apostles. It took some centuries for the bishop of Rome to claim to be the successor of Peter. The early Church did not accept the exclusive authority of the bishop of Rome.

What could you possibly mean by your strange statement: "your future perfect is a mere anthropomorphism".

Your statement: "in an instant god approves papal rulings in accord with their degree of authority" is bewildering. All papal statements?

You mention 200 years of magisterium. And didn't the magisterium make some stupendous stuff-ups along the way?

Steve | 07 November 2011  

The Catholic Church in Australia is in deep crisis.. Falling mass attendance, lack of vocations and abysmal catechesis of our youth are the fruits of the post Vatican 2 foray into liberal and progressive philosophy by our Bishops, particularly in Queensland. I hope and pray that the next crop of Bishops in Queensland can lead the church back to recovery. A good place to start would be to overhaul the whole pathetic program of religious instruction which exists in our Queensland catholic schools and which was overseen by Bishop Morris and his fellow Bishops.

Richard N | 07 November 2011  

before CANONISING lUTHER Mr Abernethy{there is the little matter of Luther's extensive antisemitism "In 1543 Luther published On the Jews and Their Lies in which he says that the Jews are a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth."[13] They are full of the "devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine."[14] The synagogue was a "defiled bride, yes, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut ..."[15] He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[16] afforded no legal protection,[17] and these "poisonous envenomed worms" should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[18] He also seems to advocate their murder, writing "[w]e are at fault in not slaying them"[Frpm wikipedia on luther and antisemitism- passim]

fr john George | 20 November 2011  

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