Observations on the Toowoomba Tumult. Fr. Z rants.

I am about to rant about Toowoomba and the NCFishwrap.

Join a protest against the NCFishwrap during their fundraising drive by sending money to me.  I explain it here, but just trust me.  It’s a good idea.

My rant today is about the liberal faction’s defense of Bishop Morris of Toowoomba and their high dudgeon at his removal, oh so unjust.

Bishop Morris, it is claimed by liberals, has been treated unfairly.  The people have been treated unfairly.  They are being oppressed.  They are complaining that the bishop was removed without due process.

I don’t see these liberal Catholics protesting against the removal without process of priests because of credible accusations.  They only protest when a liberal bishop is removed without process due to what can only be called credible accusations.

On the basis of that fact alone, you might cut Rome a break.  They trash and shred priests, not bishops.

Think about this: it is really hard to remove a bishop.

If Rome decides that he must be removed… could it be that he… wait for it… deserved it?

If there had to be an Apostolic Visitation – and you know how Rome really benefits in the PR camp from those – could it be that there was a good reason?  How could there be an Apostolic Visitation and the liberals of Australia the NCR not get the idea that there was something wrong beyond mere dislike of the guy?

Did people in Toowoomba have no idea that there was a problem there?  Did no one actually read the letter the bishop sent out in which he advocated the ordination of women and the “recognition”, whatever that means, of ministry of Protestants?  If they are lacking priests in Toowoomba, Protestants are going to be of help?  If only we had more Lutherans helping us out!  They are going to… what?  Give us the sacrament of anointing?  Hear out confessions?  Say Mass?  They left the Catholic Church because of those things .

Even the Catholics of Toowoomba, Australia, and even the Catholic bishops of Australia, and even the staff of the NCR, must know that the issue of women priests is CLOSED, and definitively CLOSÉD.  Does it come as a a surprise that the Holy See might have a problem with a bishop saying that women should be ordained?  What part of definitive is hard to understand, Australia?  NCR?

Poor poor victimized bishop!

Anglican bishops belong in the Anglican Church.

By now in England a thousand Anglicans have recently come into the Catholic Church, some at great personal sacrifice, over the very issues that this Australian bishop was promoting.   In justice to these new Anglican convert Catholics, the Australian bishop had to be dealt with by Rome.   We need to support people who are ready to come to Rome, some of them with great pain and suffering together with their joy.

Doctrine matters.

Look at the narrative here.  Bishop Morris said his 2006 letter had been “misread and I believe deliberately misinterpreted” by a “small group (which has) found my leadership and the direction of the diocese not to their liking”.

The Vatican loathes removing bishops and will do nearly anything to avoid it.  There was a five year investigation involving three important dicasteries of the Holy See (CDF, Bishops, and Divine Worship) and also the Pope.  There was an Apostolic Visit by an American Archbishop.

Bp. Morris quondam of Toowoomba

Tie .. too subtle?

But Bp.  Morris was denied process!   They misread his writings!   He has been misunderstood!

Note well: At no time in the history of the Church has such a “small group” been so powerful.

A few right wing Wanderer Types and Temple Police, as the bishop called them, wrote letters to the Congregations in Rome.

Right. A small group.  In your dreams.  Because the Vatican doesn’t get any mail from disgruntled Catholics.  Nooo.  But this tiny group of extremists, Wanderer Types wrto Rome about liturgical abuses.  THAT’s what did it.

I can see it now.  A five year investigation involving three congregations and an archbishop sent half way around the world, costing thousands of Euros, because Mrs. McGuillicuddy found a Vatican address and wrote:

Dear Cardinal!  Our bishop is really bad!…

Whose kidding whom?  A small group.

That small group included Card. Pell, the Nuncio, other bishops.

It’s always a “small group” … of Wanderer Types, clinging to their Latin and their rosaries.

Lest we forget, we went through this local and wider liberal outrage against the removal of Jacques Galliot, quondam Bishop of Evreux.  They got over it.

If the liberals of Toowoomba and the Fishwrap don’t want to get over this, the Anglican Church needs some members.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rich says:

    I thought the reason the bishop gave as to why people complain to Rome – that they hear an Alleluia in place of an Amen at Mass – was disingenuous. Having an abundance of unnecessary lay-run communion services and general absolutions is much more severe, and he knows it.

  2. Scott W. says:

    But Bp. Morris was denied process! They misread his writings! He has been misunderstood!

    There is a good chance I have missed something in the sequence of events, but if he was removed canonically, then as I understand it, canonical proceedings are not made public knowledge. In other words, the actual canonical charge might have nothing to do with his statements about women’s ordination. For all we know, they could be about covering up priest abuse. Progressives certainly would need a team of doctors to extract foot from mouth if that were the case.

  3. jarhead462 says:

    Well said, Father.

    Semper Fi!

  4. smad0142 says:

    I am all for this removal. The huge problem is that these removals are not also happening to Bishops who terribly botched the abuse scandal. The fact that Cardinal Law has not been removed is horrendous. Removal needs to be implemented in all the cases that call for it, not just in cases of doctrinal heterodoxy.

  5. Athelstan says:

    And Bishop Morris is not alone in this kind of rank dissent, as Rorate Caeli and PrayTell have recently noted:

    These Easter Sunday words of a Swiss Catholic bishop suggest that the topic of women’s ordination won’t be going away anytime soon.

    Markus Büchel calls for far-reaching reforms in the Catholic Church. The bishop of the diocese of St. Gallen [St. Gall] spoke out openly for women’s ordination. “We must search for steps that lead there,” he said. “I could imagine that women’s diaconate could be such a step.”

    One has not been permitted to discuss women’s ordination for a good while. “We can’t afford this anymore.” Regarding priesthood for women, Büchel said, “We can pray that the Holy Spirit enables us to read the signs of the times.”

    He made this explosive statement in the St. Galler Pfarreiblatt [St. Gall Parish Paper]. Sabine Rüthemann, media spokesperson for the diocese, confirmed: “The interview is authorized. What Bishop Büchel said is what he means.”

    If the Holy Father is serious about this, he could be kept quite busy for the remainder of his pontificate. Pray for Bishop Morris’s successor: he’ll need it.

  6. Fr Martin Fox says:

    The only criticism the N(so-called)CR has is that there are bishops who really messed up regarding sexual abuse, but how many of them have been removed? I don’t know the answer, but if it’s too few that’s a problem.

  7. benedetta says:

    The trend of attempting to “treat” and “rehabilitate” child sex offenders as something akin to an alcoholic requiring only a healthful and restful stay at a spa whilst undergoing therapeutic psychotherapy was sort of in and of itself a failure of an embrace of secularism and relativism.

    Whether an abuser’s views are liberal or right-wing, one can find the one and the same sinful root which is a failure to see, recognize, honor and reverence one’s neighbor, to exploit and use people around for selfish purposes or gain.

    Where there is sexual abuse by clergy, there is also spiritual abuse. They go hand in hand regardless of which party the clergyman would vote for.

    The deposit of the faith is verifiable and the ones who are charged with, not just, protecting its heritage, but enabling the faith to flourish, are accountable.

    Strange teachings and weird liturgy are unverifiable and as such only reflections of the inclinations of the powers that put them out there. They are, by definition, outside the truths of the faith. The fact that the Church’s property, authority, use of the word ‘Catholic’, trappings, or citation as if authoritative, adds up, not to its authenticity, but to an instance of spiritual abuse.

  8. anna 6 says:

    Scott W.:
    It is highly unlikely that the canonical charge had anything to do with covering up sexual abuse since it appears that there was indeed a problem in his diocese that he helped to uncover…one of the reasons his flock and local media are so outraged at his removal.

    But you are correct…we don’t know exactly what all of the charges were however, as Fr. Z says, it is absurd to think that Rome would have a 5 year investigation resulting in removal without a serious and legitimate case.

    Of course “women’s ordination” is the only thing the media will talk about. [And that would be enough!] Apparently they couldn’t care less about Catholic truths.

    And don’t forget…he had virtually NO vocations during his tenure. That says everything to me.

  9. bootstrap says:

    NCR was not up in arms about the “retirement” of Bp. Joseph Martino in November. Bp. Martino did not preempt action from Rome with a letter read at all Masses in his disocies. He did not engage in a public campaign of dissent. He tired to minimize scandal.

  10. Scott W. says:

    And don’t forget…he had virtually NO vocations during his tenure. That says everything to me.

    Hmmm…sounds like a certain diocese state-side. Think up and to the right.

  11. Peter from Jersey says:

    I am not sure that the current Bishop of Evreux is much better. Think of Thiberville.

  12. andreat says:

    “Did people in Toowoomba have no idea that there was a problem there?”

    Actually, I think this may be the case. It is not just liberals who are upset about his and think justice has not been done, but the everyday Catholics in the pews. How do I know? My MIL and FIL live there, are faithful (every Sunday) Catholics, but are very upset about his and believe the line that justice has not been done. They are definitely not liberals, but the rot is so bad that they and probably most Catholics in the diocese (except of course the Temple Police) no longer have a good understanding of the Faith. It is a case of the frog in the pot.

  13. andreat says:

    PS There has been one vocation from Toowoomba that I know of, for the FSSP (so nothing to do with Bp Morris). Fr Damonn Sypher was ordained at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney last night by Cardinal Pell. Please remember him in your prayers.

  14. SimonDodd says:

    Morris is right. He has been denied natural justice. It denies natural justice that he has been allowed to slip away into retirement rather than being excommunicated for heresy. It denies natural justice that he has not been required—and apparently sees no need—to apologize to the members of his flock he has lead astray. It denies natural justice that the Vatican patiently worked with this recalcitrant schismatic for years before finally acting, and it denies natural justice that the Holy Father’s busy schedule had to be interrupted to deal with the problem. It seems to me that Mr. Morris should be grateful that has has been shown mercy rather than justice.

  15. To underscore what Fr. Z says here, bishops are appointed by Rome. Removing a bishop is a tacit admission that Rome made a serious mistake in appointing the man in the first place. One can certainly see why Rome would be extremely reluctant to remove a bishop– it had to be pretty bad and pretty hopeless for it to come to this. The evidence must have been overwhelming to the point of the very stones on the ground crying out for justice. The embarrassment of allowing the situation to persist must have far outweighed the embarassment of putting an end to it. Of course, maybe Rome just got tired of seeing heresy preached too– maybe it isn’t all political.

  16. TrueLiturgy says:

    I thought that I have read that in the first few centuries of the Church, the Bishops of a provice would depose a Bishop and he then had recourse to Rome. Could not the same happen again, at least to make it so that Rome doesn’t have as big a PR problem?

  17. Anne 2 says:

    Priestly celibacy, no women priests, etc. is all covered in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.
    It’s the only catechism from the Magisterium.

    If people would read the CCC, we wouldn’t have so much dissention in the Church. I’m sure that Morris did not direct his Priests and Congretation to read it, or he would not gotten away with heresy for such a long period of time.
    Because Morris was obstinate, and did not retract his heretical public statements over the 5 year period, the Vatican had no choice.

    ” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I have approved…and the publication of which I order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s faith and of Catholic Doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the Faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” – Pope John Paul II (pg 5 of CCC)

    God bless Pope Benedict, may he have a long and healthy life.

  18. anna 6 says:

    Bishop Morris talks about the new pope in the Toowoomba Chronicle in 2005:
    “Bishop Morris had met the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at various times before he became Pope. “I met with him during the Oceania Synod in Rome in 1998 and he attended a number of our meetings.” “Then last year, during the ad limina visit to Rome (when Australias bishops met with Pope John Paul II), I met up with him again. “And in May I was in Rome just a couple of weeks after he became Pope and I had the opportunity to meet with him again.” BISHOP MORRIS SAID POPE BENEDICT IS A VERY GENTLE AND INTELLIGENT MAN. ‘I FIND HIM EASY TO CONVERSE WITH. “HE HAS A VERY KEEN MIND AND IS VERY GOOD AT DISCUSSING MATTERS. HE CAN TAKE THE HEART OUT OF A DISCUSSION AND BRING TOGETHER THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS. AND HE IS ALSO A VERY GOOD THEOLOGIAN. THE POPE IS NOT ONE TO BEAT AROUND THE BUSH.WHATEVER HE SAYS IS VERY FOCUSED AND MEANINGFUL AND TO THE POINT. Bishop Morris said he was eagerly awaiting Pope Benedict XVIs first Encyclical, a letter to all bishops of the Catholic Church, which traditionally sets the tone of a popes papacy.”

    Very interesting!

  19. Anne 2 says:

    CCC – ” 1577 Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination.
    The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.
    The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return.
    The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. “

  20. Mary G says:

    Thank you for your rant Father. I live in Australia but not in the Diocese of Toowoomba. Like everyone else, I know nothing of the reasons for the dismissal of Bishop Morris.

    I pray for him and for the people of the diocese and I urge you all to do likewise.

  21. RichardT says:

    A note to my fellow British readers – the dollar is dirt cheap at the moment, so the suggested 5 dollar suggestion cost just 3.10 in pounds. So get on there and donate.

  22. Mariana says:

    “….Protestants are going to be of help? If only we had more Lutherans helping us out!”

    Have they actually met any Lutherans? As a former Lutheran and living in a solidly Lutheran country (in Scandinavia) I can tell you, Lutherans wouldn’t be caught dead “helping out” at a Catholic church, full as it is of deluded, superstitious statue whorshippers!

  23. JP Borberg says:

    I’d repeat and extend Fr Fox’s concern. The Vatican’s defence when criticised for not removing bishops that protected priests that abused children was that bishops were not employees of the Holy See, and that the Holy See had no means to remove them. But they can remove this guy.

    Is there something I’ve missed here, or have we been lied to? Have high ranking members of the Vatican, up to the Pope and the Vatican Secretary of State, actually been allowing these bishops who have effectively facilitated child abuse to stay in office.

    Unless there’s some subtle distinction I’m not making, that’s what seems to have happened.

  24. TomG says:

    per Athelstan’s comment: I could just scream! Here we go again. This Bp Buchel was just appointed in 2006 and is only 61 y.o. Why is the Holy Father being so poorly served in this episcopal vetting process? It seems to me that if they have to reach down to 40 somethings (where you’d probably find the cream of the JPII crop with several years of priestly duty under their belts), then so be it!

  25. SCCatholic says:

    Check out this article for a little more background on the situation:


    The related story: ‘Bishop Bill Morris was guilty of false advertising’ is an interesting read as well.

  26. benedictgal says:

    Here is what I wrote on the fishwrap’s combox:

    At some point, the NCR should cease calling itself “Catholic”. The op-ed piece is nothing short of an insult to a very sound and well-thought out decision made by our Holy Father. To resort to taking pot shots at Pope Benedict XVI instead of looking at the real issue is, in my opinion, not only a lack of charity but, a severe deficiency in journalistic integrity.

    Bishop Morris is no victim here. His remarks distanced him from the Church. As a bishop, he took a vow to promote, defend, hold and teach the faith of the Catholic Church that comes to us from the Apostles. Sadly, to that end, Bishop Morris failed. The fact that the sheep had to ask Rome to intervene on their behalf regarding their shepherds actions is sad. The shepherd let his sheep down.

    To accuse Rome and Pope Benedict of using “scare tactics” is far from the truth and most uncharitable. It also smacks of the same “dictatorship of relativism” that the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger warned us against in the homily that he preached prior to the conclave that elected him pope.

    Pope Benedict XVI is a servant of the Truth, something that, as I read the NCR op-ed piece, the NCR knows nothing about, as the article indicates.

    Here is what I wrote in reply to someone named “Justina”:

    Justina, I do not know if you are Catholic. The Church bases its belief in the Petrine Ministry on the charge that Jesus gave to Peter and the rest of his successors: “[18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” The conferring of this Petrine ministry is recorded in Matthew 16:18-19. For you to challenge this notion places you outside of the bounds of the Catholic Church.

    Unfortunately, it also puts the NCR in that space as well. The NCR has frequently taken positions that go squarely against the Church’s authority, often bordering on schismatic. The NCR does not speak for the Church. Instead, the NCR insists on sowing seeds of discontent and discord.

    I will be writing my own take on the NFWR debacle in my blog. I was experiencing low blood pressure yesterday. This is not how I wanted to raise it.

  27. benedictgal says:

    Here it is:


    Given that I do not think that the fishwrap would have the guts to publish a dissenting article, I figured I should just do my own thing.

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