Australian bishop removed from diocese for heterodox ideas

I have often thought that the Holy Father should reach out and remove a red hat from some cardinal’s head.  Just one.  Pour encourager les autres, as it were.  Well… perhaps from time to time.

From the Australian with my emphases and comments:

Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, claims unfair dismissal by Pope
Tess Livingstone and Amanda Gearing From: The Australian

THE Catholic Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, has been effectively sacked by Pope Benedict XVI over doctrinal disobedience for his support for ordaining women priests and other liberal reform[Good.]

In a highly unusual move, [Imagine, therefore, how errant this bishop must have been.] Bishop Morris complained in a letter to his followers that he was leaving unwillingly and claimed he had been denied natural justice. [Natural justice? That would be an interesting argument.]

The developments have led to an incipient revolt among at least some sections of the church. [I assume that is supposed to be a warning to Pope Benedict.]

In the letter read out to all congregations in the diocese at weekend masses, pre-empting a Vatican announcement tonight, Bishop Morris, 67, said he had taken early retirement because “it has been determined by Pope Benedict that the diocese would be better served by the leadership of a new bishop”.

It is understood that one of Brisbane‘s auxiliary bishops will step into the diocese temporarily as administrator until a new bishop is appointed. Bishops normally do not retire until at least 75.

Some Toowoomba Catholics left church in tears yesterday, and priests have called a meeting at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday to consider what action can be taken, including the possibility of a mass resignation of clergy. [Be sure to leave forwarding addresses, men.] But one senior priest who has followed the bishop’s controversial career said Bishop Morris had brought about his own demise because “you can’t keep telling Rome to get stuffed”. [Well… it seemed that you indeed could.  Perhaps that is over.  One can only hope.]

Many parishioners arriving for mass last night were amazed and shocked about the letter.

At the cathedral, Maree White said the bishop was well appreciated in the diocese and she was stunned by the news.

Others disagreed. Jenny Goodwin said: ” I think, all things considered, the Vatican does not do these things lightly.”

The bishop’s letter shows things had reached a stalemate after he had been talking to the Vatican for five years.” [five?]

In his letter, Bishop Morris said the Vatican’s decision was sparked by complaints to Rome about an Advent letter he wrote in 2006. In that letter, he argued that with an ageing clergy the church should be open to all eventualities, including ordaining women, ordaining married men, welcoming back former priests and recognising the validity of Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church orders. [The issue of ordaining married men or welcoming back “former” priests are not doctrinal issues in the way that the ordination of women (impossible and defined) and validity of Protestant “orders” … sheesh!  What was he thinking?]

In contrast to some other provincial dioceses, the priest shortage has been exacerbated by Toowoomba’s appalling record over recent years in attracting virtually no new vocations.

Long before the pastoral letter, however, concerns had been raised about the material included in sex education programs in diocesan schools and the former practice of general absolution in the diocese.

The Advent pastoral letter sparked an investigation, led by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado, [OOH-RAH] one of the most respected Catholic clerics in the US, who visited Toowoomba and spoke to priests and laity at length, and also spoke with other Australian bishops.

In the letter read out yesterday, Bishop Morris said that visit led to an “ongoing dialogue between myself and the Congregations for Bishops, Divine Worship and Doctrine of the Faith and eventually Pope Benedict”.

The style of Bishop Morris’s departure is unprecedented in that he has made his disagreements with the Vatican so public. In previous years, bishops who fell from favour have usually resigned on the grounds of ill health, or no reason has been given for their departure.

Bishop Morris complained he had never seen Archbishop Chaput’s report, and said he had been denied natural justice.

He said he had never written a resignation letter, and that he had offered to take early retirement “with profound sadness, knowing I still enjoy the support of the vast majority of the people and priests of the diocese”. [awwwww]

But he admitted his position had become untenable, and said he had proposed that he take early retirement to find his way through “this moral dilemma”.  [Sometimes it is necessary to remove, rather than simply allow to resign.]

“I have never wavered in my conviction that for me to resign is a matter of conscience, and my resignation would mean I accept the assessment of myself as breaking communion, which I absolutely refute and reject, and it is out of my love for the church that I cannot do so.”

I am sure there will be more about this.

Australian bishop removed from diocese for heterodox ideas
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57 Responses to Australian bishop removed from diocese for heterodox ideas

  1. Warren says:

    Bishop Morris shouldn’t be surprised in the least at his removal. Let’s hope he keeps his mouth shut (…not likely to happen, mind you) and avoid the Weakland gambit, i.e., a book deal whereby he tries to absolve himself and make himself a martyr while adding insult to the injury his actions have caused.

    On a related note, would it be accurate to say that now, with Cardinal Ouellet at the helm (of the Congregation for Bishops), much needed changes are finally being made?

  2. Father, The Australian is perhaps the most Catholic-friendly mainstream newspaper in the nation. Reading this article I did not detect any latent anti-Catholicism, though I noticed a few statements which may have been interpreted that way by a reader expecting a hostile article. Would you perhaps consider giving the raw text another skim, and perhaps (if your opinion is modified) consider amending your assessment?

  3. andreat says:

    And about time…

    My husband’s family is from this Diocese, and it really is mission country (mind you, the further north you go, the worse it gets). The newspaper reports have quotes from all the people who are “shocked, and can’t believe the Pope would do this to such a nice man.” And he is basically whining that the Vatican are meanies. This is the bishop who dressed as a clown at youth Masses. I am sure there are many rejoicing at Bishop Morris’s retirement. I don’t know the ins and outs of the whole case, but it seems he has had plenty of time to recant his position, so can hardly be surprised at the outcome.

    Now just pray that the new Bishop is a very strong, competent and holy man, who is loyal to the Magisterium!

  4. Peter in Canberra says:

    Not before time imo
    If you want to see how bad it is in Australia have a look at this link (from the quasi-official electronic news service): http://www.cathnews.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=26105
    Note that the Bishop of the neighbouring diocese of Rockhampton has posted a comment here.

  5. Peter in Canberra says:

    ps – the comment thread is the telling part

  6. Gladiatrix says:

    I am not a Catholic so I don’t know if the Bishop’s complaint about breach of the principles of Natural Justice is correct, i.e. nemo iudex in sua causa and audi alteram partem in terms of the administration of the Catholic Church; BUT it does seem a little odd that as at least part of the subject of the Chaput report the Bishop was not shown the report, or allowed to respond to it, before it was sent to the Vatican.

  7. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    Don’t judge the Catholic Laity of Australia by the comments accepted in Cath News so-called -it is a semi creature of the Australian Catholic Bishops’Conference and is run by a former Womens’Issues Journo under the supervision of a liberal cleric.
    As for Bishop “Call me Brian” Heenan’s intervention in the Comments it is a worthless bit of self – encouragement – this is the man who claimed that “REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUM “did not apply in his Diocese! ( Perhaps why he is shown in his Diocesan Magazine concelebrating Holy Mass with no Chalice -the wine being consecrated in a glass Carafe!)
    A good summary of the” Affaire Morris”is ,(if I say so myself) to be found at :http://vexilla-regis.blogspot.com/

  8. Brooklyn says:

    I just read through some of the comments in the link provided by Peter and I am now convinced more than ever that there is a de facto schism in the church. Far too many “Catholics” believe that we can believe anything we want to believe no matter how much it contradicts the official teaching of the church and still remain in communion with the church. It is beyond me how any Catholic can call this Bishop a holy man.

  9. Hieronymus says:

    Just two points:

    1) I am utterly and completely shocked. In the past, I don’t know, 40 years or so, bishops were not even called out when they admitted to being gay (Weakland). While quite a few more will need to go before I start to get excited, I like the direction BXVI is headed.

    2) How bad must this bishop have been? We have bishops here who have “encouraged discussion” about women priests and every other sort of heterodox pet project, and nary a hand has been slapped. I think the people in the article have every right to be shocked, not because this wasn’t deserved, but because the Vatican actually did something about episcopal heterodoxy. Unbelievable.

  10. Hieronymus says:

    @ Brooklyn:

    I am now convinced more than ever that there is a de facto schism in the church.

    Not possible. We have been told over and over that JPII the Super avoided a schism with his inactivity in the face of rampant heterodoxy. There is no schism to speak of, just a new springtime in our civilization of love. You just need the spiritual depth to understand that things are not what they seem.

  11. This is precisely the kind of action that the Holy Father needs to take. This, and not appointing these kinds of men in the first place.

  12. Jane says:

    Why is the poor bishop surprised that he has been removed, when he does not follow church doctrine?

  13. I think a ‘de facto schism’ is a bit dark. I’d be surprised if there were ever an era without dissident bishops… and there are *more* bishops now than ever, therefore the worst will be worse.

    The borders of Catholicism are more blurred, yes… in that there are more people who dissent from tons of stuff but still call themselves Catholic. But I’m not sure even that is *totally* new — Luther, Calvin, et al. didn’t start out trying to found new Churches, but to change the Catholic Church — and I think that what is new in it is an inevitable result of the different intellectual climate (at least in the modern ‘West’ and strongly ‘West’-influenced countries).

    We have *new* problems, yes, but I’m not convinced that we have *worse* problems than other ages – at least not other times of crisis in Christendom/Western civilization (the division of the Roman empire, and the decay of the Western half, attended with many heresies, foremost among them the Arian crisis; the collapse of medieval Christendom in the Protestant Reformation and the Wars of Religion): both crises were, in my mind, *much* worse than the current one.

    If one accepts that we are seeing the incipient collapse of the “Modern” (post-Enlightenment) Age, we should expect great crisis in the Church as well (given it is historically closely tied to the West) — by that standard, we are getting off fairly lightly.

  14. Kerry says:

    Natural justice…? Would that be trial by fire, or trial by combat? And from the other room I hear Homer Simpson saying, “Why you revolting incipients! ” Heh.

  15. pelerin says:

    ‘Obedience is the essence of religion.’ – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

  16. Joseph says:

    Why just this one? There is a whole bunch more, who’s head ought to be on the chopping block.
    A stitch in time …. saves souls too.

  17. My initial reaction to this was “wOOt!” Then it occurred to me the dire state of the soul of this Bishop and the souls of his flock and, reality hit me how utterly sad this is. We should pray diligently for this Bishop and those he misled. (It can be done! Remember the Sister to publicly recanted her support of womynpriests). And the comments section over at the link Peter in Canberra broke my heart. There are good, wonderful Bishops, Priests and laity in Oz. Perhaps now they’ll be able to fill in the gaps these dissenters leave.

  18. LorrieRob says:

    I am reminded that today is the memorial of St. Athanasius. Theological battles in the church are nothing new…but ours today probably rank in importance with those fought by St. Athanasius in terms of their importance in the preservation of the faith. But God is with us…

  19. SimonDodd says:

    I’ve sometimes suggested, tongue-in-cheek and paraphrasing this, that “morale will improve when the excommunications begin.” This seems like a good first step. Still, I can’t help but wish the whip had first been cracked over someone like Card. Law; the optics are terrible. Benedict’s critics may seize on this and argue that he’s more bothered by what they will brand as ideological differences than abuse. Further action, post haste, would seem wise.

  20. Ezra says:

    Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI is gearing up to make use of a rite first used by Benedict XIV:

    …If the degradandus be an archbishop, the degrading prelate removes his pallium, saying:

    We deprive thee of the rights and privileges of the episcopal dignity, symbolized in this pallium, since thou hast abused them.

    Then, even if the degradandus be a mere bishop, the degrading prelate removes his mitre, saying:

    We strip thy head of this miter, emblem of the episcopal dignity, since thou hast befouled it by thy ill government.

    Then one of the ministers brings the Book of the Gospel to the degradandus, which the degrading prelate takes from his hands, saying;

    Give us back the Gospel! Since thou hast spurned the grace of God and made thyself unworthy of the office of preaching, we rightly deprive you of this office.

    Then the degrading prelate removes the ring from the finger of the degradandus, saying:

    Rightly do we pull off thy ring, the sign of fidelity, since thou hast made bold to rape God’s own bride, the Church

    Or perhaps not. Still, so far as it serves as an example of episcopal malfeasance being punished, let us hope this is a sign of things to come. Brick by brick!

  21. Scott W. says:

    Benedict’s critics may seize on this and argue that he’s more bothered by what they will brand as ideological differences than abuse. Further action, post haste, would seem wise.

    Yep. As I noted on another blog, first they give you the ol’ “The Vatican must tacitly approve because they aren’t doing anything about what you perceive as dissent.” Then when the Church does do something, they change their tune to, “Well, why are spending so much time on this when there is this other more important thing to take care of?” Faugh.

  22. PghCath says:

    This is the second removal of a bishop in 2011 (the other being the bishop of Pointe-Noire, Congo, for financial management reasons). While I regret the existence of an unorthodox element in the Church, I am glad that Pope Benedict is removing problem bishops. A bishop shouldn’t be like a tenured faculty member at a university, who can do anything short of murder and still retain his job. Well done, Your Holiness!

    While I’ve seen lots of unorthodox priests who refuse to wear clerics, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bishop in shirt and tie as often as Bishop Morris. This guy really must not have cared about the Church.

  23. SimonDodd, the Catholic faith is not an “ideology.”

  24. Henry Edwards says:

    If one accepts that we are seeing the incipient collapse of the “Modern” (post-Enlightenment) Age, we should expect great crisis in the Church as well (given it is historically closely tied to the West)

    I would say that this crisis began–both in the Church and in secular society–began in the 1960s. And that recovery from the crisis is underway in the Church, though not in society at large.

  25. anna 6 says:

    This is very good…but I am afraid I agree with Simon Dodd. They should work swiftly to harshly punish the pedifile Belgian bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, or we will have a PR nightmare on our hands.

  26. @Henry Edwards: It at least broke through into full visibility then, though one could argue the groundwork had been being laid for decades – but that period was the ‘crossing of the Rubicon’.

    I’d nitpick that I think the crucial period is actually the latter half of the 60s and the first half of the 70s, at least in the broader culture. I think the crucial elements are:
    -the ‘Sexual Revolution’, and especially (in the US) Griswold v. Connecticut (source of the infamous ‘emanations from penumbras’, and one of the least Constitutionally-based Supreme Court decisions ever) and Roe v. Wade;
    – the rejection of nuclear power, and the end of serious space efforts after Apollo 17 – which to me marks the beginning of the end of the age of technological progress;
    -Vietnam and its after-effects on the American attitude toward our country and its foreign involvements; & possibly the fear of nuclear war/MAD and its general effect on the attitude toward technology. (In the 50s, people would have picnics watching open-air nuclear bomb tests!)
    -the rise of the modern Left tying together these movements in an unwholesome cocktail; modern environmentalism often seizes on Malthusian population-control stuff and anti-technological stuff even when the more advanced technology is actually better for the environment (e.g. nuclear power, more efficient farming via biotech crops, etc.) This change in public attitude toward new technology, from hope to fear, is, IMO, the central symptom of the shift from the ‘Modern Age’ to its successor. (Which means we will soon need a new term, since it is no longer Modern … )

    In the Catholic Church in ‘the West’, I personally think the wide-scale rejection of Humanae Vitae’s teaching on artificial contraception is actually more relevant than Vatican II. The problem is primarily external, not internal.

    The big question is what the next ‘Age’ will be and how good of soil it will prove for the Church. I don’t expect to know soon… the other big transitions in the history of the West (Christianization and fall of the Western Roman Empire, Protestant Reformation/Scientific Revolution) have taken centuries, so…

  27. SimonDodd says:

    Timothy Mulligan, I agree. Please don’t mistake my comment on what Benedict’s critics are likely to do with this as an endorsement of their tactics or goals.

  28. Gail F says:

    abiologistforlife: I agree completely. There have certainly been heterodox bishops before (at times in the Church’s history a majority of bishops have been heterodox) and times when many, many Catholics disagreed with the Church about things. That is part of Catholicism — we keep people who disagree, much as some of us would wish otherwise. People can go pretty far off the rails and still be Catholics, or “bad” Catholics, or “non-practicing” Catholics, or “former” Catholics. (Protestants just kick people out who disagree, or they quit and start a different church.) People today disagree about different issues, and have a different way of showing their disagreement. You have to look at the whole church, not the little bit you are part of, and the whole sweep of history. Admittedly, that’s very hard to do, especially given some people’s position. I don’t know what I would have done if I were the age I am now in the 1960s. But the Church has made it through much worse and the Holy Spirit will make sure it continues to do so.

  29. Ioannes Andreades says:

    One must wonder whether this move will lead to the conclusion that bishops really are the employees of the pope.

  30. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    YESSSS!!!!! Finally Benedict is showing us all HE IS God’s Rottweiler!!! Finally a Holy Father with courage to strip bishops who are abusing their position and “paving the way to Hell with their skulls” via errant teaching and allowing all manners of poor Catholic education and sex ed curricula in Catholic school systems. May Benedict keep this up for the salvation of all souls under the care of these bishops!

    Ezra. I like that stripping rite! Hey are you Ezra Levant of the Sun Media Network?

  31. That comment thread… somebody actually said this with a straight face: “Bishop Bill Morris follows in the dignified, faithful and reforming footsteps of Fr Hans Kung….”

    Kinda says it all. Not the way the commenter intended, of course.

  32. Fr Matthew says:

    We really need to pray for clerics like this bishop, and for all the laypeople that are led astray or encouraged in their error by this kind of bad example.

  33. Mother says:

    Does anyone know the condition of the RCC in Perth, AU?

  34. Justin says:

    My question is:

    With the advent of modern forms of communication – what is the need for a local ordinary? The Pope can issue a bull or a teaching, and the faithful can get it within a few minutes. The Holy Father has universal jurisdiction anyway. And he can easily appoint Nuncios, and Vicar Generals to act in the dioceses on his behalf.

    It seems to me, a far more sensible solution would be to do away with this idea of particular Churches, and unite as ONE Church under ONE Bishop – the Pope, and episcopal Vicar Generals who act on his behalf, rather like Vicariate Apostolics, and the new Personal Ordinariate.

    In a time of chaos, it is precisely the moment for LESS collegiality and more centralisation. I’m all for increasing the administrative powers of the Roman Church and reducing the powers of the local dioceses very few of whom can claim to be 100% in fidelity to Rome.

    In the past, this may have been more difficult. But we now have the technology to accomplish this. We should do so.

  35. Ezra says:

    It seems to me, a far more sensible solution would be to do away with this idea of particular Churches, and unite as ONE Church under ONE Bishop – the Pope, and episcopal Vicar Generals who act on his behalf, rather like Vicariate Apostolics, and the new Personal Ordinariate.

    If Fr Z’s comments feature allowed for an “EYES FIXED WITH HORRIFIED STARE” smiley, I would be using it.

  36. Prof. Basto says:

    Today’s bolletinno confirms that Pope Benedict deposed this bishop from his See:

    http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/27343.php?index=27343&lang=en

  37. …do away with particular Churches? Not possible… the Bishop and Particular Church is a fundamental part of the organization of the Church, going back to Jesus’ commissioning of the Apostles – not something we can change.

  38. mshoe88 says:

    “my resignation would mean I accept the assessment of myself as breaking communion, which I absolutely refute and reject”

    hmm sounds like something a heretic would say…

  39. Tony Layne says:

    Having read the comment thread on the CathNews link Peter in Canberra provided — it seems to be the antipodes’ version of the Fishwrap — I’m completely disgusted at the constant regurgitation of the “signs of the times” meme. None of these people have actually paid attention to the signs of the last forty-three years. The mainstream Protestants have all ordained women and openly gay persons, embraced abortion and contraception, and extended themselves to blessing same-sex unions … and THEY’RE ALL STILL GOING DOWNHILL!

    BTW, Father, you seem to be gaining some notoriety among the left as influential with the forces of evil. One of the comments: “The Archbishop [Chaput] and his predecessor, Cardinal Stafford, have presided over programs of ‘reform’ which have systematically demoralised vast numbers of Denver Catholics principally by entrenching and legitimising those of the conservative ‘remnant’ mentality. … Activity will intensify come Advent when they’ll be out looking for instances of priests who fail ‘to read black and do red’ at Mass.” [Then my work here is done.]

  40. Justin says:

    Of course we cannot do away with Particular Churches/dioceses altogether. They are divinely instituted (well some particular Churches are e.g. Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem). But we should think of restricting their number. Maybe we could have just a few particular churches in the West – the biggest would be Diocese of Rome which will have both universal and local jurisdiction for the vast majority of Latin Catholics exercised in the form of episcopal vicars in the traditional diocesan boundaries. They can then be ‘titular bishops’ of the suppressed diocese, e,g. the episcopal vicar for the area that is now served by Westminster (a relatively new See and not dating from the Apostolic era) could be the Titular Archbishop of Westminster. The See of Jerusalem and others dating from the Apostolic era, would be maintained and there would be Diocesan Bishops appointed/elected there.

    This proposal may seem controversial, but it merely exposes the reality of what happens in the Western Church at present anyway. The particular churches are preserved, in accordance with Tradition – just that most of us will belong to the Diocese of Rome, which will see a massive increase in numbers.

  41. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that

    @Justin: I just don’t get the benefits. If you don’t mean actually repealing the ancient particular churches, I suppose that would be within the Pope’s powers (I guess)… but what would you gain? And it would be *perceived* as a huge Papal power-grab, making any reunion with the Orthodox, orthodox/Catholic-leaning Anglican groups, etc. much less likely… I don’t see any benefit outweighing that huge negative.

  42. Rob Cartusciello says:

    For those wondering, “natural justice” is a common law doctrine that ensures procedural fairness in a legal proceeding. It is similar to the American legal concept of “procedural due process”.

    Considering the fact that this controversy arose in 2006, I’m certain that the procedural norms were followed, which are, of course, enshrined in Canon Law.

  43. Oops. First part should say “I wouldn’t go so far as to say all the mainstream Protestants have accepted all that stuff… the conservative Baptists, etc. have held pretty firm. But I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘mainstream’ — I think the mainstream of Protestantism is shifting to evangelical/nondenominational ‘just-Christian’ churches… so we may be talking about the same thing in different words.”

  44. Justin says:

    @abiologistforlife: To ensure stricter doctrinal purity. Bishops now feel free to disregard the expressed commands of the Holy Father particularly in matters liturgical and in some cases moral as well. The example of this rogue bishop mentioned in the article springs to mind. They will say things like, that is for Rome, in our local patch its different, etc.

    The suppression of various bishoprics would in effect lead to them only exercising their authority vicariously and therefore have the powers effective only of a Vicar General. They can therefore no longer use that arbitary distinction between Rome and the local Church (as many have done in restricting the effects of Summorum Pontificum) because canonically we will therefore all be the Diocese of Rome.

    This would ensure stricter discipline among rouge vicars, greater ease of removal of herersiarchs, and that the faithful are not subject to the whims of various bishops many of whom are not theologically in union with Rome. At present we derive our Catholicity from being in union with our Bishop who is ‘technically’ in communion with Rome (we can say for certain Eucharistic communion, although doctrinal union is another matter). In my model, we will be in communion with Rome directly and not have to worry whether or not our Bishop is in doctrinal fidelity to Rome and hence in full communion with Peter, as the laity of this particular Australian diocese do.

    The hope is for a leaner, cleaner, more effective, more disciplined Church.

  45. Pledger says:

    I think this sends an excellent message….the fact that it occurred shows that the Holy Father will not tolerate public doctrinal error in his episcopacy…the fact that it took so long shows that he is incredibly patient. This is excellent news.

    Side note: Nice tie, Excellency….

  46. Ezra says:

    rouge vicar

    I think this is more of an Anglican thing.

  47. @Justin: I doubt it would really accomplish much; the Pope probably couldn’t actually be more involved, because he still only has 24 hours in a day. So *in practice* the no-longer-bishops-of-dioceses would still be running things.

    But more generally, I don’t think uprooting 2000 years of tradition on how to organize the Church is justified because of problems which do not strike me as unique or unprecedented.

  48. benedetta says:

    Agree with abiologistforlife — “schism” implies that the faithful make a choice. In so many places the basic truths of the faith, ones which are entirely solid, basic and not controversial, have simply not been taught to the faithful. Not having had a choice presented to them, there was no opportunity to choose dissent or schism or what the Church basically teaches. It’s unusual to encounter such an open statement — usually what happens is behind the scenes, and the alternative or strange teachings or practices have been confirmed to have occurred when others feel emboldened to be vocal about dissenting or erroneous views. Or when children innocently give voice to what they were told by someone in authority. Perhaps school children ought to be interviewed and asked about their knowledge of the faith as they unwittingly reflect the choices others have made for them…

    I pray for the Holy Father’s health, and for the perseverance and courage of the men who must pick up the pieces in the places where these things occur.

  49. SimonDodd says:

    Tony Layne (quoting a commenter at CathNews): “[Chaput] and his predecessor … have presided over programs of ‘reform’ which have systematically demoralised vast numbers of Denver Catholics principally by entrenching and legitimising those of the conservative ‘remnant’ mentality.” What’s that quote from St. Augustine—”many who claim to be inside are in fact outside”?

  50. If anything, you could argue that we’re not particular enough. Every Catholic is supposed to be part of a fairly compact parish where everybody knows everybody, unless you really live out in the waybacks. Monasteries are supposed to have sub-monasteries under them, and to constantly be spreading out and colonizing new rural areas (with churches attached for the locals to attend). Every city and reasonable-sized town is supposed to have its own bishop who knows and loves its parishes, not to have one bishop covering a thousand parishes spread out over hundreds of miles. Individual lay Catholics are supposed to be part of sodalities as well as their parish.

    We’re way too loosely knit together as it is. It’s crazy to want to destroy the bishops and make it worse. I guess if you want parish priests to become absolute tyrants of all they survey, until felled by the Vatican’s Inspector General Ninja Swiss Guard Corps visiting once every ten years, it might seem like a good plan.

  51. On the bright side, it seems that this gentleman has perfected the art of writing to the relevant folks at the Vatican. Though it’s more likely that he’s just one of many people who’ve complained over the years, and finally the file got big enough and evidentiary enough to do something about it.

  52. Re: the newspaper comment thread remarks about abuse, apparently this is linked to a notorious 2010-2011 court case against a former Christian Brother named Gerald Byrnes. He joined the order, left the order, got married, had eight kids, and taught at schools in various Australian dioceses along the way. Toowoomba was where he finally got caught doing stuff — and he was raping little girls at his desk during class, apparently. So anyway, when Morris found out, he fired the principal who didn’t take it seriously enough or move soon enough, which of course was a fairly popular move. So let’s give him that.

  53. @benedetta: while bad catechesis is certainly true, I wasn’t ruling out the existence of conscious dissent (the most public example is Catholic politicians voting for abortion-supporting legislation…) I was more expressing discomfort with the idea of a ‘schism’ as such, which implies something organized & even planned… I think it’s a simple combination of human sin (there’s always going to be those less faithful) and a Catholic-as-tribal-identity conception that makes even heavy dissenters continue to call themselves Catholic.

  54. Tony Layne says:

    @ SimonDodd: I wonder how many disaffected Denverites constitutes a “vast number”, and whether they can all fit into the same room.

    @ Fr. Z: “[Then my work here is done.]” Now, don’t go all “nunc dimittis” on us just yet! :^)=)

  55. Brad says:

    “At the cathedral, Maree White said the bishop was well appreciated in the diocese and she was stunned by the news.”

    Again, St. Teresa of Avila wrote that until the age of 40 a series of lenient confessors had let her wallow in venial sins. When she got with someone who didn’t do her that disservice, she profoundly changed and was well on her road to her final glory.

  56. Mercer says:

    Hieronymous and others:

    Actually, Blessed John Paul II deposed then-Bishop Jacques Gaillot (sp?) of Evreux, France about 15 years ago, as he supported the same things this Australian bishop has been supporting.

  57. Peter in Canberra says:

    Well if you wanted to undergo some more penance on how far gone Queenlsand is have a look at these:
    http://www.cathnews.com.au/uploads/doc/2011/05/National%20Council%20of%20Priests%20Bishop%20Morris.pdf (Australia’s ‘National Council of Priests’ media release)

    http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=26113 (‘Eureka Street’ is a Jesuit publication)
    http://www.cathnews.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=26159

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/foreign-priests-has-church-at-crossroads/story-e6freoof-1226049413219
    not very nice comments about ‘foreign priests’

    http://www.cathnews.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=26159
    You have a very high profile Australian Jesuit here joining the media charge including taking a not too subtle swipe at Arbp Chaput, no doubt after having carefully read St Ignatius’ rules for thinking with the Church …