Bishop Morris

Bishop Morris

Michael Smith

Fr Brendan Dillon PP (August AD2000) explained that he was the organiser of the forum that Bishop Elliott addressed, after which he listened to concerns raised by Catholic parents relating to the shortcomings of teaching religion in Catholic schools. I was among those concerned parents present at the meeting.

I too was surprised by the reply given by the 'home schooler' to Fr Dillon's hypothetical question. Father had asked if the home schooler would consider sending her children to a Catholic school that was thoroughly orthodox. The emphatic reply of "no" was surprising since the goal of orthodoxy in Catholic religious education was the intention of the evening.

Regrettably this reply reveals a home schooling perception that implies that only through home schooling can a parent be concerned for the state of a soul and that parents who send their children to schools have a reckless disregard for the state of their child's soul.

However, I have serious reservations about Fr Dillon's propagation of a misleading impression of injustice by Pope Benedict XVI in the dismissal of Bishop Morris from his post as Bishop of Toowoomba.

The sacked Bishop of Toowoomba has since been promoting his removal as an act of injustice by the Vatican; ultimately Pope Benedict XVI.

However this claim of injustice is totally false when one reviews the chronology of events that culminated in the Bishop's dismissal. The Vatican Congregation for Bishops sent numerous requests for a meeting with the Bishop. These requests were made over a five year period. All these requests were rejected by Bishop Morris, who either dismissed them or offered other objections resulting in delaying an eventual meeting with the Vatican. The Bishop by virtue of his office and vows had an obligation to facilitate a meeting with the Congregation of Bishops back in 2007.

Where do the Australian bishops stand in respect of this dismissal of a bishop by the Pope? We may well find out through the activities of a group claiming to be Catholics for Renewal. This group has been gathering names for a petition circulating through parishes and the internet. They claim, as Fr Dillon has claimed, that the dismissal of Bishop Morris by Pope Benedict XVI was unjust. The petition will be forwarded to the Australian Bishops Conference.

Will there be any bishops, besides Cardinal Pell, who are prepared to witness courageously to the truth that the Pope took this action as head of Our Lord Jesus Christ's Church on earth? Unfortunately a significant number of bishops will hide behind the insipid expression of "collegiality" as their response to this dismissal.

This action by Benedict XVI should be a teaching moment for the bishops of Australia. The confusion among priests, religious and lay people can be addressed through the Australian bishops' witness to their vows, office and allegiance to the Pope and their preparedness to defend this action by the Holy See.

Ringwood, Vic

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