MORRIS : END OF THE AFFAIR?

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn


According to the American CATHOLIC NEWSAGENCY (CNA) in a report from Rome ( at 6.36 PM on 19th October - 5.36 AM to-day EST) the Bishops of Australia will issue a joint Statement on TOOWOOMBA Diocese perhaps as early as this weekend.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra - Goulburn is quoted as saying: "I don't think anybody has a magic wand that is going to heal the wounds of division." At the same time, he said, the Bishops are "preparing a statement which I think will be an important moment and we will offer to everyone the fruits of our discussions and reflections here."Archbishop Coleridge said that the talks held with Cardinal Levada and Cardinal Ouellet "went very positively"and "surpassed"their expectations. "Some of the older hands among the Bishops said they were the most substantial, serious and candid discussions they can remember in all their years of coming to Ad Limina visits", he said. The report went on : The subsequent statement which he hopes can be produced by the end of this week, will now "try to offer the fruits of those discussions" " both in words and "in pastoral action"to be implemented upon the Bishops' return to Australia.

Whilst not wanting to anticipate the statement, he made the point that the conversations with the Holy See had focused on "the nature of the communion of the Church, and in particular, the communion that exists between the Pope and a Diocesan Bishop."

The report went on "In recent weeks , several lay Catholics in the Toowoomba Diocese have contacted CNA  to express surprise that Bishop Morris still seems to have a high profile in the Diocese. His activities have included giving a public lecture, in-service talks to teachers and officiating  at  Parish anniversaries."














Deposed Bishop Morris above and 

His Eminence Cardinal George Pell right, Archbishop of Sydney









"I hope that won't continue"said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney to CNA "And if he is a loyal man of the Church he'll realize that this is totally inappropriate and that won't continue. That is my hope."

As for Priests in the Toowoomba Diocese who are keen to continue dissenting, Cardinal Pell said he hopes "that Bishop Morris will remind them of their duties to get on with life and serve the people"when their next Bishop is appointed. No timescale has been given for that appointment.






                                        Archbishop Wilson of Canberra - Goulburn

President of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Wilson of Adelaide was more muted than a couple of days ago simply saying he didn't want to:" comment personally on Bishop Morris in terms of his future"except to say that "he (Bishop Morris) is still a Bishop of the Catholic Church."However he went on to say that they would now have to "dialogue about his future"and do so "in terms of love."

The Bishops will have a group farewell meeting with the Holy Father as is customary on 20th October. 

Judging by the text and tone of the above it would seem we were not alone in our dissatisfaction with  Archbishop Wilson's earlier utterances and it has been felt necessary to have some more reliable commentators wheeled out to deal with the announcement.See "Chicago Piano etc."yesterday's post on this Blog.


Nothing could more dramatically highlight the importance of the proper selection of candidates for Episcopal appointment than this case. Bishop Morris was the former Personal Secretary of the late Archbishop Rush. He was appointed Bishop of Toowoomba shortly after Archbishop Rush retired, Even the most "progressive"of the Brisbane clergy were shocked by his selection and comments on the man were scathing. It is obvious some special influence was used to produce the unhappy result. And now so many disastrous years later the whole Bishop Conference and senior members of the Curia are pre-occupied with the antics generated out of this unfortunate appointment. 


The matter also highlights the importance of timely firm discipline, lest the cancer of dissent should metastasise. Bishop Morris'errant position on General Absolution was blatant during the last Pontificate and his errant views on the validity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders in Protestant Churches became evident in his notorious Advent Pastoral of 2006. That was the time for resolute action, but perhaps in the transition to the new Pontificate there were other pre-occupations in the Curia.


We need all to pray for a good conclusion for the Church and that Bishop Morris might do all that he can to further that end in some quiet place.


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