Australian priests offer support for deposed bishop | National Catholic Reporter

Australian priests offer support for deposed bishop | National Catholic Reporter.

It`s tough being a Catholic these days. A friend recently shared how she is ready to give up reading the National Catholic Reporter, a publication that we all respect for its commitment to reporting on current church events and issues. It`s not that the NCR isn`t doing a great job. But it seems that each day there is another story to get heated over. Another reason to sigh deeply. Another reason to wonder why we remain Catholic.

The latest news is coming from down-under. Bishop William Morris of the Toowoomba Diocese is being relieved of his duties and position by Pope Benedict XVI. According to the article, the reason is traced back to an Advent 2006 Pastoral letter from Bishop Morris. While describing the current priest shortage in his diocese, he stated that he would be willing to ordain married men and women `if Rome allowed`. This letter resulted in an apostolic visitation from Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. Bishop Morris was not allowed to see the results of the visitation or the report that was sent to the Congregation for Bishops. All he received was the personal letter from the Pope announcing his episcopal removal.

Granted, we do not know all the details of the situation. But it has raised a lot of questions and concerns about the judicial process and the severity of the punishment.

What brings some hope is that a national organization of priests in Australia has released a public statement of support for Bishop Morris. This is good news. We need priests, bishops and lay women and men to stand up for each other if they believe an injustice has been done.

6 thoughts on “Australian priests offer support for deposed bishop | National Catholic Reporter

  1. Yes, standing together and speaking up is important even if it seems we have little influence OR it results in severe censure. I don’t “get” not even allowing discussion of the topic…..(Sigh!)

  2. I don`t get it either, Marceta. There is a difference, I think, between aggressive attacks on church teachings, and respectful questioning and dialogue. Joining you in the sighing….

  3. “What brings some hope is that a national organization of priests in Australia has released a public statement of support for Bishop Morris. This is good news. We need priests, bishops and lay women and men to stand up for each other if they believe an injustice has been done.” (Isabella)

    I very much agree with what Isabella has stated here, we do need to stand up for each other when confronting injustice. Here are some of the things that I learned from my own experience of standing up to personal injustice when employed by a religious institution of the Church.

    Things to consider before confronting injustice in the Church:

    •Would I be risking something I still want from the Church (i.e. financial and/or emotional support, employment in the Churches’ other institutions etc.)?
    •Am I willing to take the risk of losing contact with my church or spiritual family members with whom I want to stay connected? What would that mean? How would I deal with the loss?
    •Am I grounded and stable enough to risk being called crazy?
    •Could I maintain my own reality in the face of denial?
    •Could I withstand the anger that I am likely to face from others?
    •Could I handle my own anger and/or other feelings? How would I do that? Could I handle no reaction at all?
    •Could I handle the support the victimizer will receive? “We want to be fair to her/him.”
    •Do I have a solid enough support system to back me up before, during and after the confrontation? (Therapist, spiritual director, lawyer).
    •Which support people agreed to be available before, during, and after?
    •Can I realistically imagine both the worst and best outcomes that might result? Could I live with either one of them?

    Remember you are dealing with a twisted logic that would protect a Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia who was named in a grand jury report for protecting numerous priests in his archdiocese who have been credibly accused of sex crimes against children; and that ousted Bishop William Morris for suggesting we talk about the ordination of women to solve the crisis of a lack of priests.

  4. Ugh. I was going to post a snarky sarcastic remark and then I thought better of it. When I hear stories like this or deal with our micro-controlling pastor, I remember the scene in Star Wars when Princess Leia turns to Governor Tarkin on the battle station and says, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” Just change “Tarkin” to “Catholic Hierarchy” and “star systems” to “parishioners” and the effect is the same.
    ‘Course the religious orders get it. Here’s a pointer to an article in the Washington Post about the Jesuits and their response to declining vocations. (Spoiler – they’re encouraging the laity to pick up the mantle.)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fewer-jesuit-priests-this-easter-but-more-people-learning-jesuit-ideals/2011/04/21/AFicfhPE_story.html

    • What a great parable, Mike….from the gospel of Luke (the Skywalker), methinks?!! 🙂

      Thanks for the article link. The Jesuits have a great approach. We need more collaboration between the ordained, religious, and laity and a mutual sense of responsibility. It gives us hope!

  5. Thank you for this thoughtful AND practical list, Ray. These are all good questions to consider. They show that leaving is not an easy choice when a person deeply loves the Church….which is a much different situation from someone who just drifts away.

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