Bishop knew of his departure

ON THE eve of his departure, Bishop William Morris yesterday revealed he knew about his impending resignation 14 months ago and tried to negotiate his leave date to accommodate the needs of sexual abuse victims and their families.

Bishop Morris will return to his family's Brisbane home today after being forced to resign on Monday.

He said yesterday that he had been in negotiations with Pope Benedict to stay longer in Toowoomba so he could continue working with victims of recent sexual abuse at a Catholic school.

“I was hoping to negotiate an early retirement, say, when I was 70,” he said.

“I am 67 years, so three more years.

“But they didn't want that.

“I would have liked to continue providing pastoral care to people in the community who have been damaged by sexual abuse.”

Last year a teacher at a Catholic primary school in Toowoomba admitted to sexually abusing 13 young girls during 2007 and 2008.

The school can not be named to protect the identity of the victims.

At the time, Bishop Morris accepted legal liability for the abuse and he entered into mediation with the victims.

He said yesterday it was determined in late February that he would resign on May 2 — four months earlier than the date he suggested to the Vatican.

Bishop Morris's resignation, however, was not related to the sexual abuse case.

Instead, he said the resignation was brought about by an advent pastoral letter that was circulated in 2006 in which he suggested a discussion about ordaining married men or women into the priesthood.

Bishop Morris also revealed yesterday that complaints about school-based liturgies and his “pastoral style and leadership” were taken directly to the Vatican.

“There were complaints in the liturgical area,” he said.

“Some schools celebrate liturgies sometimes too progressively.

“But instead of coming to me, there were some who wrote to Rome.

“Most people don't realise there is some latitude with liturgical law.

“You can leave some parts out and put some in, especially with children, to be more inclusive.”

Bishop Morris said, however, once complaints were re-directed back to the diocese from Rome, he and his liturgical committee worked to rectify the wrongs.

“There were a few abuses (of church law) that did occur but they were corrected,” he said.

Bishop Morris said he would pack up the remainder of his belongings over the next two weeks and that he looked forward to a holiday.

“I am still a member of the diocese,” he said

“They certainly can't get rid of me that quickly.”


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