Australia: The Bishop of Toowoomba Dismissed

Source: FSSPX News

Benedict XVI has withdrawn the pastoral charge from the Bishop of Toowoomba, situated in the State of Queensland, in Australia, as revealed the Holy See on May 2.  This information was confirmed by the one concerned himself, Bishop William M. Morris.  In a letter to the faithful of his diocese, he announced his anticipated departure, writing that the Pope “considered that the diocese would be better administered under the aegis of a new bishop.”  According to the prelate, 67 years old and at his post for the last 18 years, this dismissal procedure follows on an inquest ordered after complaints concerning a pastoral letter published in 2006.  In this document, he had considered that, given the deficit in the number of priests, the Church should ordain married men and women, discuss the reintegration of priests who have left the priesthood, or even develop the cooperation with Anglicans and Protestants.

On May 3, the day after the announcement, more than 500 faithful protested in Toowoomba against this forced resignation.  They made known their “regrets” and their “anger”, considering, according to the comments quoted by the local newspaper, The Chronicle, on May 4, that Bishop Morris was “ a leader and a visionary held in the highest esteem by the young parishioners.  The Church is going to have great difficulties in attracting young parishioners now that he is gone.”  Other protests confirm that this dismissal “signifies a step backwards, that the youngest take the worst,” adding that “the Church has lost contact with reality.”

This dismissal procedure is rare in the Church.  It was used in January 1995 when John Paul II withdrew the charge of the bishop of Evreux, in France, Bishop Jacques Gaillot.  And on March 31 of last year, for the first time in many years, Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba also had his charge withdrawn for “serious management problems” in his diocese of Pointe-Noire, in Congo-Brazzaville. (Sources: apic/imedia – DICI#235, May 28, 2011)