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Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three

Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three

William Martin Morris
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three
    Book Description:

    This is the story of my dismissal as the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Toowoomba, in Queensland, Australia. It relates, from my perspective, the dealings I had with various Congregations (Dicasteries) of the Vatican’s Curia in Rome and with certain cardinals and officials in those Congregations, as well as with Pope Benedict XVI, regarding pastoral activities and a letter I wrote to the diocese in Advent of 2006 while the Bishop of Toowoomba. The book details the background and events which led to my being asked by Pope Benedict XVI to resign as Bishop of Toowoomba when I had a meeting with him in Rome on the 4th of June 2009. I did not agree to resign, but negotiated with Pope Benedict to take early retirement which was announced on 2 May 2011. The book is accompanied by various Appendices of documents and letters from this period, including several letters from cardinals in Rome and the pope. Some of the documents and the Appendices have already been published in various places or are in the public domain in some way. They are published here again so that these documents are all in one place. The book has been written to give the story from my perspective of what happened in the lead up to my taking early retirement after refusing to resign. In the view of a number of civil lawyers, canon lawyers and theologians, both here in Australia and overseas, I was deprived of natural justice as I was in no way able to appeal the judgments or decisions that were made in these circumstances. This was made clear to me by the three cardinals in Rome with whom I had most contact over the time and by Pope Benedict XVI himself.’

    eISBN: 978-1-921511-44-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    William M Morris
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Hans Küng

    No one who cares about the well being of the Church and about justice for its members will remain indifferent toward the book by Bishop William Morris, in which he explains the history of his conflict with the Vatican. I am sincerely grateful to Bishop Morris for initially resisting all pressure and for now revealing in a detailed report the actions of the Roman bureaucracy against human rights.

    When one recalls the order of events, one has the following impressions:

    – From the very beginning, the bishop had to deal with a small group of opponents and whistle blowers who...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Chronology of Events:
    (pp. xv-xxvi)
  7. 1 Learning to Breathe Brisbane Line: A Personal Story
    (pp. 1-6)

    Stories are like people, they come in different shapes, colours and sizes. Some are serious, filled with pathos, others are light-hearted, inviting laughter, some tell of relationships past and present, others speak of the past with a smile or a tear, some even try to predict the future. There are legends and fables, sagas and folklore, wives-tales and fairy tales. There is history and fiction, there are myths made up of all kinds of imagery, coloured by widely held but exaggerated beliefs that have become part of the folklore and fabric of life passed on from generation to generation, family...

  8. 2 Pastoral Vision
    (pp. 7-12)

    The year was 1994, my second year as bishop of the local Church (Diocese) of Toowoomba, and words from the opening address of Pope John XXIII began ringing in my ears as I looked at the pastoral needs of the diocese, and heard a mixed chorus of voices looking for direction.

    As I go about my daily work as pope, I sometimes have to listen, with much regret to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. These people can see nothing but a decline of truth and the...

  9. 3 Synod of Oceania
    (pp. 13-22)

    As the fruits from the Diocesan Gathering were being absorbed, processes were being put into place for the formation of a Diocesan Pastoral Council.¹ Energies were also focussed at that time on preparation for the Synod of Bishops of Oceania which was to be held in Rome, November 22 – 12 December 1998. It was one in a series of continental assemblies called by Pope John Paul II to prepare the Church for the new millennium. Bishops of Oceania were joined by bishops from other continents and heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Other participants included priests, lay people, and...

  10. 4 Reconciliation and General Absolution
    (pp. 23-36)

    Ourad liminavisit was drawn to a conclusion on 14 December 1998 with a meeting with Pope John Paul II who delivered his final remarks to us flowing out of the Statement of Conclusions.¹ This was not a happy ending to our Roman visit. The only thing that uplifted our spirits was that we were heading home for Christmas. The disappointment we were experiencing was in many ways similar to the disappointment our communities were feeling back at home as they wondered what this might imply for them and for the whole of Australia. To them there seemed to...

  11. 5 First Meeting
    (pp. 37-42)

    Under the guiding hands of the two canon lawyers, Diocesan Chancellor, Reverend Dr Brian Sparksman, and Reverend Peter F Schultz, Diocesan Canonical Advisor, a survey was undertaken of those parishes which in the past had requested the use of Communal Rite with General Absolution. Ultimately the results of the survey and a document based on it were handed to me, to which I added my own observations giving an honest appraisal of the conditions that I saw were prevailing in the diocese. The findings of the survey convinced me even more of the need for the Communal Rite with General...

  12. 6 Future Planning
    (pp. 43-46)

    At a Priests Council Meeting held in Taroom in July 2003 the question of future staffing of the diocese was discussed. On the world scene, Toowoomba would have overall a better ratio of clergy to people than many other dioceses, but looking to the future it could be different due to retirement, death and fewer vocations to the priesthood. To make sure we were well prepared for the future, a sub-committee was formed at that meeting to prepare a discussion paper presenting some important facts about the priests currently serving in the diocese. It was a paper to stimulate conversation,...

  13. 7 The 2006 Advent Pastoral Letter
    (pp. 47-58)

    To put the 2006 Advent Pastoral Letter into context we need to go back to the year 1994, my second year in the diocese. In an attempt to discern the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel and then respond both spiritually and pastorally to the needs of all members of the diocese, a diocese covering 487,000 sq. kms, I decided to introduce the concept of Pastoral Planning. My motto, ‘Christ is My Hope’, spelt out my vision for the diocese for it was my hope that we would all work together to bring...

  14. 8 Continuing Correspondence From Rome
    (pp. 59-62)

    As the Catholic ‘world’ was focussing on World Youth Day in August 2005 in Cologne, Germany, and I was preparing with other Queensland bishops to accompany the Queensland contingent, a letter arrived from Cardinal Arinze. This letter was also copied to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Ambrose de Paoli, Archbishop Carroll, the President of the Australian Bishop’s Conference and Archbishop John Bathersby, Archbishop of Brisbane. The letter focussed on my visit to the Dicastery (Congregation) during thead liminavisit in 2004, mentioning how I had put forward many reasons for collective absolution in the diocese. Arinze pointed out how he...

  15. 9 Lead Up to the Apostolic Visitation
    (pp. 63-66)

    It was 21 December 2006 when final preparations were being put into place for the celebration of Christmas, offices were preparing to close and families were busy preparing to celebrate this great feast when I received a fax from Cardinal Arinze. He informed me that the Holy Father had instructed the three Cardinal Prefects of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Bishops and for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to hold a discussion with me on the practice of General Absolution in the Diocese of Toowoomba. Two dates were suggested: Tuesday 13 February or...

  16. 10 The Announcement of The Visitation
    (pp. 67-72)

    The letter from the Congregation for Bishops appointing Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, as Apostolic Visitator to the diocese of Toowoomba read:

    His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI does, through this letter of appointment by the Congregation for Bishops, commit His Excellency, Charles J Chaput to the office of Visitator to the Diocese of Toowoomba to diligently discover and review the state of Catholic Doctrine and governance there, and to report on it accordingly.

    The Sacred Congregation has confidence that the same Most Reverend Archbishop of Denver will carry out this assigned task zealously and in comformity with the Apostolic mandate,...

  17. 11 The Visitation
    (pp. 73-82)

    On Tuesday morning, 24 April 2007, Fathers Dorfield, and Sparksman arrived at Archbishop Bathersby’s residence, Wynberg, Brisbane to collect Archbishop Chaput and Deacon Neal. They arrived in Toowoomba at Bishop’s House around 10 a. m. While I met with Chaput, Dorfield took Deacon Neal to their arranged accommodation at Grammar View Motel, within five minutes walking distance from my residence. After a short initial meeting, Chaput was taken to the Cathedral Centre for a meeting with the Council of Priests.

    The meeting with the Council of Priests was chaired by Father Brian Noonan, who was the official Chair at the...

  18. 12 On The Road and Back Again
    (pp. 83-96)

    Wednesday 25 April, Anzac Day 2007, dawned as a perfect autumn day and commenced with the celebration of Mass in my chapel at Bishop’s House at 6.30 a.m. Following breakfast, our journey to the western part of the diocese began. Archbishop Chaput was in the front passenger seat and Deacon John Neal in the back seat while I drove. Our first stop was at the town of Miles where Father Brian Noonan, the parish priest of Chinchilla and priest director of Miles, had arranged a meeting over morning tea with the local pastoral team. Driving out of Miles, Chaput’s conversation...

  19. 13 The Days That Followed
    (pp. 97-100)

    There was a numbness in the life of the diocese. For many of those with whom I spoke who had participated in the process of the Apostolic Visitation, and whose experience has been referred to in the previous chapter, Archbishop Chaput had left behind him an unease that ate into the heart of hope. This hope had been injected with some life by Chaput’s parting words to Sparksman: ‘I would be astonished if you were to lose your Bishop.’ We had been respectful of the wishes of the Vatican by keeping the whole matter confidential, except for those directly involved:...

  20. 14 What Meeting?
    (pp. 101-106)

    The flight to Rome was uneventful and gave me a chance to do some reading in preparation for our Diocesan Gathering in June 2007. I always find airports fascinating and Rome is no exception. The first impression is that the place is deserted but eventually you see people in uniform looking very serious and official, but with a few looks up and down to make sure you match the photo on your passport and some impressive stamp action, you are set free to retrieve your luggage. I love Roman taxis and have had some wonderful journeys, feeling as if I...

  21. 15 The Next Chapter
    (pp. 107-114)

    In mid-October 2007 a letter arrived from Cardinal Re in which he ignored the contents of my letter of 17 September 2007. I had suggested that while on annual leave I would reflect on my response to the unsigned memorandum so that it could form a basis for future dialogue. Cardinal Re turned my letter around and said that I had informed him that I would be going on annual leave, during which time I would reflect on the request for my resignation as Bishop of Toowoomba and would pray about the resolution. I had said no such thing. He...

  22. 16 My Response
    (pp. 115-122)

    The only noise in the room was the scratch of the pen of the Archbishop Secretary to the Congregation for Bishops who was crouched over his papers as though to protect from invisible eyes. The group who had helped me put together my response thought that my directness may have offended Cardinal Arinze, so with that in mind I began by simply saying that if I had unintentionally offended any of them, in particular Cardinal Arinze, in past contact and correspondence, I apologised for any hurt caused.

    I then presented my response as follows.

    A diocesan Bishop is required to...

  23. 17 Statement of Position
    (pp. 123-138)

    On 14 March 2008 I wrote to Cardinals Re, Arinze and Levada enclosing a more detailed response covering the matters that had been raised in the January 2008 meeting. I also pointed out the claim that my ‘type of leadership of the diocese [was] seriously defective’ was not substantiated in the material that was presented to me. Furthermore, the conclusion appeared to be based on the report of the Apostolic Visitation, which I had not seen and which I had not been given any opportunity to address. I then asked Re, Arinze and Levada for the ‘grave cause’ (Canon 401§2)¹...

  24. 18 Waiting for a Response
    (pp. 139-150)

    In the weeks that followed Easter 2008, I was diagnosed with a melanoma. It was situated behind my right ear and from April to November I had a series of six operations. These operations have been successful and after six years I am still clear of melanoma. I will be forever grateful to my doctors, nurses and surgical staff who took such great care of me, as well as my family, friends and all who supported me during that time. An amusing side to my ordeal was that I was able to be admitted to the local Catholic Hospital, be...

  25. 19 My Reply
    (pp. 151-158)

    On 19 December 2008 I finally wrote to Cardinal Re. In preparing my reply I had prayed, reflected and taken discreet advice on all the events, meetings and letters that had transpired over the last few years. I had always hoped I would be able to address the difficulties that had arisen through a creative dialogue with the three cardinals of the Roman Congregations but unfortunately it had always been a monologue. It was at last clear that they were accusing me of breakingcommunio¹, so I informed Cardinal Re that I believed before God that I could and should...

  26. 20 The Audience
    (pp. 159-164)

    Arriving in Rome at midday on the 31stof May 2009, I once again enjoyed a frenetic drive from the airport to Vatican City where the Anglophone Meeting on Professional Standards was to take place. The meeting was taking place in the Casa Santa Marta where we were staying. The Casa is situated inside Vatican City, and is now the chosen place of residence of Pope Francis. After finding my room it was time for a walk. To walk and get lost in the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old City can give you the feeling that time has stopped...

  27. 21 The Next Step
    (pp. 165-176)

    A few days after arriving home, I called the Diocesan Consultors together on the 12th of June 2009 to report on the meeting with Pope Benedict in Rome. After briefing them as to what had happened and how surprised I had been that the meeting had taken the turn it did after the advice I had received, I indicated to them that I was becoming a little tired of the fight and was seeking their advice. I had already received advice from canon lawyers to hold firm, based on two grounds. First, that in the end, after much pressure the...

  28. 22 What Next?
    (pp. 177-184)

    In the first week of each year we priests of the diocese gathered for our annual retreat. It was during this time, in January 2010, that I received a phone call informing me that a letter had arrived from Pope Benedict, dated 22 December 2009.1 Like St Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, quoted above, I prayed about this situation and wondered about obtaining the letter or leaving it till the end of the retreat. In the end I decided that if I was going to have any peace for the remaining days of the retreat, I needed to read the...

  29. 23 The Decision
    (pp. 185-192)

    In the weeks that followed the retreat I had the opportunity to share the letter of 22 December 2009 from Pope Benedict with two of my brother bishops whom I trusted. They were upset with its contents and without any prompting from me, said they believed it was based on a false set of premises. With Benedict’s words ringing in our ears, ‘Canon Law does not make provision for a process regarding bishops, whom the Successor of Peter nominates and may remove from office’,¹ that is, ‘I hire and I fire’, I shared with them my idea to break the...

  30. 24 The Day
    (pp. 193-206)

    It had always been my hope that a solution would be found. Pope Benedict, in his letter, said that we had been involved in a ‘fraternal dialogue’. We had never been involved in a dialogue and my mistake from the outset was that I treated my brother bishops in Rome as equals. I had thought that I would be able to work with them to bring about pastoral solutions to pastoral problems, whereas really, as expressed in the words of the French Dominican theologian and ecumenist, Yves Congar, ‘What put me wrong (in their eyes) is not having said false...

  31. 25 Reflections
    (pp. 207-212)

    The Toowoomba Diocesan Leadership Group (TDLG), after receiving an unsatisfactory response from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference concerning their motion¹ for an independent enquiry into my removal, resolved to appoint the Honourable WJ Carter, QC, a retired Queensland Supreme Court Judge,² to conduct an independent review of the process which forced me out of office. Their decision was based on the fact that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference made no acknowledgement that my retirement was a forced one, and in particular their concern was the denial of natural justice.³ Carter, after reviewing the correspondence between myself, Pope Benedict XVI, and...

  32. 26 Canonical Reflections and Theological Overview
    (pp. 213-226)

    The Toowoomba Diocesan Leadership Group (TDLG), after receiving the Carter Report, noted that Judge Carter, having regard for the principles of both civil law and canon law, requested that the Memorandum be given to a canon lawyer for his opinion, as some may have considered that Carter had stepped outside his area of expertise. With this in mind, the TDLG asked Father Ian Waters,¹ a canon lawyer, to appraise the Carter Report. Here is what he wrote:

    I have been invited to provide a brief canonical reflection on the Carter Report. I have read the report. My reflection is solely...

  33. 27 Ad Limina Visit 2011
    (pp. 227-236)

    From the time the bishops arrived back in Australia there had been a number of reports of the conversations they had amongst themselves, with Cardinals Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and William Levada, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These reports vary in their support of the contents of the statement made by the Australian Catholic Bishops in Rome. From the beginnings of my communication with Pope Benedict, there has never been a question of my loyalty and acceptance of his role as the Successor of Peter and my acceptance of the exercise...

  34. 28 What Report?
    (pp. 237-242)

    The Apostolic Visitor’s Report continues to be that black cloud that hangs over most discussions concerning my relationship with the Roman Dicasteries, but fails to bring any light to these discussions. Statements made by some, publicly reporting that I was shown Chaput’s report, have not helped my integrity, but challenged my truthfulness and kept people in the dark.

    Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the meeting with the Australian Bishops on theirad liminavisit in 2011, reported that he had read Archbishop Chaput’s report and found it quite fair and reasonable. He...

  35. 29 Breathing Together
    (pp. 243-250)

    I have been asked many times by many people in many places what am I doing now that I am ‘retired’ and by many how did you cope in all of this? Well, as the poem described, I learnt to breathe under water. I learnt that my life situation was not my life and the gift of being loved and living in the present was both life-giving and transforming. I learnt that it was for freedom, that Jesus set us free, a freedom that gave one the capacity to see that creation is a paradox, a both/and not an either/or,...

  36. Appendix 1 Speech of Archbishop Francis Rush at the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops
    (pp. 251-254)
  37. Appendix 2 Statement of Conclusions
    (pp. 255-286)
  38. Appendix 3 Pope John Paul II - Address to the Australian Bishops, 14 December 1998
    (pp. 287-294)
  39. Appendix 4 The Faithful Have Charge Of Their Sacramental Needs
    (pp. 295-298)
  40. Appendix 5 Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
    (pp. 299-300)
  41. Appendix 6 Submission to the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments re Communal Rite 2004
    (pp. 301-320)
  42. Appendix 7 Advent Pastoral Letter 2006
    (pp. 321-326)
  43. Appendix 8 Statement of Agreement with the Anglican Church
    (pp. 327-330)
  44. Appendix 9 Letters from 2006 – 2007
    (pp. 331-336)
  45. Appendix 10 Correspondence with Rome
    (pp. 337-346)
  46. Appendix 11 Cardinals Re, Arinze, Levada’s Statement at Meeting 19 January 2008 Rome
    (pp. 347-352)
  47. Appendix 12 Corrections on Diocesan Website
    (pp. 353-354)
  48. Appendix 13 Diocesan Pastoral Statement
    (pp. 355-358)
  49. Appendix 14 May All Be One: Pastoral Guidelines for Eucharistic Hospitality
    (pp. 359-364)
  50. Appendix 15 The Law
    (pp. 365-372)
  51. Appendix 16 Correspondence between Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Morris in 2009
    (pp. 373-380)
  52. Appendix 17 Correspondence with Cardinal Re of 2010
    (pp. 381-384)
  53. Appendix 18 Correspondence with Papal Nuncio 2010 - 2011
    (pp. 385-394)
  54. Appendix 19 Hon WJ Carter QC Memorandum to Toowoomba Diocesan Leadership Group
    (pp. 395-416)
  55. Appendix 20 Letter from the Australian Bishops Conference to the Toowoomba Diocese Apostolic Administrator 2011
    (pp. 417-422)
  56. Appendix 21 Letter from Hans Küng
    (pp. 423-428)
  57. Appendix 22 Images from the Eucharist in Celebration of the Ministry of Bishop William Morris, DD Sunday 28 August 2011
    (pp. 429-436)
  58. Index of Names
    (pp. 438-441)