|Vigil and procession. It was cold. Pic courtesy Courier Mail.|
Two fairly widely separated but recent events, both related to the Catholic church, are, in my opinion connected.
The first was the forced retirement of our bishop William Morris, in May 2011, allegedly for challenging the authority of Pope Benedict in a pastoral letter written to his congregation, (of which I am a member) on 17th November 2006.
The letter raised the option, in the face of a shortage of priests, of ordaining women and married men and recognizing the Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church orders.
Later, in 2009 he dismissed the principal of a Toowoomba Catholic primary school and two Catholic Education officials for failing to report to the police an early complaint from a schoolgirl.
I remember him as a compassionate and courageous pastor who visited my special school seeking advice on how children with severe intellectual disabilities could be delivered a sacramental programme.
He carried through on this, and the process continues in the diocese. It was, at that time, unique, but is now being introduced in other dioceses.
But the “Temple Police" had the ear of the Vatican, and they were relentless in pursuit of Morris.
I was one of 500 parishioners who participated in a candlelight vigil and procession supporting Bill Morris on the evening of 3rd May 2011.
The second event related to the church is the release last week of the report of the royal commission into institutional responses towards child abuse (the McClellan Report).
What has been revealed by this commission thoroughly vindicates Morris’ action in expeditiously dealing with the issue in his own diocese. His activity in this sphere seems to have been completely ignored by the Temple Police and his pursuers in the Vatican.
The hierarchy of the church is slowly beginning to understand that its behaviour is causing many Catholics to lose faith in the institutional church, whilst maintaining their strong catholic faith and value system.
Bill Morris should still be our Bishop. I wonder how he would have fared with Francis as Pope?.
(Bill Morris has written a memoir with an account of his dismissal. It’s an enlightening read).