Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Did the Archbishop Tell a Furphy?

Hidden away in the Letters column of the Fairfax press one of Australia's most senior Catholic Archbishops has been caught out telling a  "furphy:" about one of Australia's best pastoral Bishops. Just when the  class of 2012 were hoping the "Morris" affair would quietly die away, Denis Hart, the Archbishop of Melbourne launched himself into Fairfax land on February 4 2012 with this outlandish piece 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

Anyone following Rome's sad and sorry saga of the pursuit of a good Bishop like Bill Morris would have almost choked on their corn flakes to wake up to  this city slicker taking on the boy from the bush.

Today Bishop Bill Morris has replied to Archbishop's Hart's letter with the steady hand of one who is a true leader by simply stating things as they are:

Claim inaccurate

Archbishop Hart stated that Archbishop Charles Chaput (of Denver, sent by the Pope to investigate the Toowoomba diocese) discussed with me the contents of his report (Letters, 4/2). I categorically deny that Archbishop Chaput ever discussed with me what he was going to put in the report. His discussion was always focused on clarifying the questions he had brought with him from Rome and those that had arisen in his inquisitorial examination.
Archbishop Hart's comments concerning the process by the Holy See are also inaccurate.
He is correct in stating the Pope did not act against canon law because he is the legislator and therefore decides what is canonical. However, he omits to acknowledge that while the Pope is the Vicar of Christ for the Universal Church, Vatican II clearly taught that each diocesan bishop is the Vicar of Christ in and for his diocese.
William Morris, Bishop Emeritus of Toowoomba

I know who I prefer to see wearing the title "Most Reverend" in this debate and it's Bill Morris, the bishop with real heart.
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