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.