Bishop William Morris
Bishop William Morris

Bishop's sacking on Rome agenda

AUSTRALIA'S Catholic bishops have discussed the removal from office of Bishop William Morris with leading Vatican officials during a visit to Rome this month.

The 38 bishops from Australia will also meet with the Pope during the "ad limina" visit, regularly scheduled visits to Rome during which bishops report on the status of their diocese.

A Catholic News Service report from Rome yesterday said Cardinals Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, and William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met with the Australian bishops to discuss the aftermath of the removal of Bishop Morris and how best to promote healing in the Toowoomba diocese.

Bishop Morris had been asked six times by three different Vatican congregations to resign over what the Vatican saw as his permitting priests to use general absolution for the forgiveness of sins and his public views on the issue of potentially ordaining women and married men as priests.

President of the Australian bishops conference, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, said the Australian bishops fully recognised and accepted Pope Benedict's ministry of authority over the whole church and were not second guessing his actions.

"What we have to do is look at what the consequences have been, what we need to do now to bring healing and guidance to the Catholic people of Australia, do all we can to maintain a proper collegial relationship with Bishop Morris and find ways in which he can continue his ministry as a bishop in our midst, although he's no longer bishop of Toowoomba," he said.

Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville said the Vatican cardinals had been "very generous" with their time and that the Australian bishops continued to discuss the matter "gaining greater understanding of why it happened and ideas to ensure it never happens again".

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