Saturday, January 21, 2012

Essential Reading re Bishop Bill Morris

This post got an honorable mention in the CathNews Blogwatch  recently.

One bishop that Incognita hesitates to defend is Bishop Bill Morris. Holy Irritant does not venture into analysis, but in a weekend post titled “Essential Reading re Bishop Bill Morris”, he does provide some useful links, including an after the fact canonical reflection by canon lawyer Father Ian Waters. 

I originally published this post as act an of solidarity with Bishop Bill Morris and those who have supported his claim of unjust treatment. I hope readers will examine  the analysis of these documents in the articles from Frank Brennan, Andrew Hamilton and Mick Kelly. They provide  informed and theologically sound reading which is more than I could say of the dismissive ramblings of the  bog at Australia Incognito. I notice that this blogger shows a preference for the northern hemisphere rather than her home territory in her reference to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.I wonder if this an attempt to be "more Catholic than the Pope"?

The Memorandum of  Hon W J Carter QC
A clear and detailed examination of the events which show that Bishop Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice. ABC Radio National Interview Vatican denies Natural Justice

Canonical reflection by  Rev Ian Waters JCD PhD
 In accordance with Canon 19, the Holy See, departing from the earlier precedents for the removal of Australian bishops, could have designed a process similar to the process for removal of a parish priest, thereby according procedural fairness and natural justice consistent with the Code of Canon Law.  This was not done.  I respectfully concur with Mr Carter’s conclusion that “Bishop Morris has been denied procedural fairness and natural justice.

Inquisition's heavy hand remains ready to strike is an opinion piece published by on February 2 2012. It attracted 137 comments.

Pope 'wrong' in sacking Queensland bishop is a commentary by journalist Barney Zwartz. to which Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne offered this gem of episcopal spin:
Pope did not err

Your report ''Pope broke canon law dismissing bishop, say experts'' (February 2) regarding the removal of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba is unfair and inaccurate.
In fact, the Holy See conducted a pastoral process of dialogue with Bishop Morris over 11 years involving senior officials of three offices of the Roman Curia, a number of meetings in Rome and a personal meeting with Pope Benedict. An archbishop of another diocese from overseas appointed by the Holy See to investigate the matter has stated that he did discuss the contents of his report with Bishop Morris while he was in Toowoomba.
In the Catholic Church, because the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the Universal Church, he has final power throughout the Church and can freely exercise it. This includes the appointment, transfer and removal of bishops.
Father Waters is misrepresented by the statement that the Pope has breached Canon Law and exceeded his authority.
In the final analysis, the Pope always has freedom to act for the good of the Church in the appointment and removal of bishops.
Most Reverend Denis Hart Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne

Read Bishop Bill's response and my commentary here

Read more:

Commentaries in response to these documents

For Catholic Christians who see the papacy as a crucial part of Christ's church the memorandum is also disturbing. In Catholic faith the Pope plays the same part as Peter in strengthening the faith of the brethren. Pope Benedict said that, when dismissing bishops popes are not bound by process. But the report shows that beneath this apparent absence of process in fact lay an unfair process that damaged the reputation of a good man.

For over a hundred years, civil society has seen the point of due process and protecting human beings’ natural rights. Officially the Church doesn’t recognise them and Bishop Morris is only one case of the Church’s failure to recognise them.
Until the Church does recognise them, all the carry on about social justice will sound as hollow as promises to do something about sexual abuse without a protocol for professional standards doesMichael Kelly SJ

Just because there is no legal remedy, that is no reason for the people of God not to reflect acutely on their treatment of each other in God's name. Respectful dialogue with Toowoomba's church leaders would be a good start
Frank Brennan SJ

February 15 Update: Respected religious journalist Stephen Crittenden has just published a brilliant expose : "The Inside Story of How Romes Ousted A Bold Bush Bishop"

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