Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lucia More on the removal of Bishop Morris in Toowoomba

Observations on the Toowoomba Tumult. Fr. Z rants.
It seems that Australia is the ground zero right now for discussions about ecclesiology, that is, the make up of the Church, who the Church is, how the Church is governed, what the Church believes.

The removal of Bishop Morris was a long time coming, ABC Religion and Ethics

Some background on how long this removal of the bishop had been brewing ...

At a meeting between the Roman Curia and some of the senior Bishops of Australia in December 1998, a document known as the Statement of Conclusions was presented. The document was aimed at all of the Bishops of Australia and their dioceses - and was quite confronting, to say the least.

The (then) Cardinal Ratzinger had been influential in the preparation of the document, as were Sydney's Cardinal Edward Clancy and Brisbane's Bishop Michael Putney, both of whom were on the committee that produced the Statement.


The bishops of Australia were mixed in their reaction to the Statement. In private (and in my own hearing) some were very unhappy at their treatment - one bishop remarking to me "we were treated like naughty schoolkids." Others were relieved and delighted that Rome had finally acted to intervene in a Church that they regarded as going off the rails in some quarters.


And so now, after more than a decade since the Statement, one of its prime movers, Pope Benedict XVI, has forced the bishop of Toowoomba out of office. By joining the dots of the broader history, it is clear that Bill Morris - by all accounts a very good man and a kind pastor - has breached some of the principles laid out in the Statement of Conclusions, and so exposed himself to severe sanction.

In an update to the article, the writer has added what Bishop Morris told him was in his final letter from Pope Benedict, where infallibility was applied to the inability of the Church to ordain women:
... Bishop Morris said that, in the letter, Pope Benedict asserted "that Pope John Paul II had said irrevocably and infallibly that women cannot be ordained."

This is the first time the word "infallible" has been used formally by a pope in regard to the ordination of women. This may now mean there is a fourth infallible definition from the pope on record - namely, that women cannot be ordained.

Very interesting stuff. It's going to be too hard to predict how quickly this will reverberate through the rest of the Church ...

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