Thank you for your article on Bishop Morris (June AD2000). We do indeed need bishops who will faithfully uphold the Church's teachings and support lay people in their mission to follow Christ.
If Bishop Morris had listened to the concerns of those who merely wanted to receive the peace of Christ in the sacraments, then they would not have had to speak to Rome at all. Indeed, Bishop Morris tended to intimidate orthodox priests, seminarians and lay people, to judge from some examples I came across.
He told one priest that he knew every word that he had said at Mass before he had even removed his vestments. And it was true, for a comment about an ex-priest in the Catholic Education Office was swiftly followed by threatening legal letters. In addition, canon law was misused to try to sideline people with genuine concerns about the doctrine being taught and the liturgy practised in the diocese.
At the same time, promotions were given to people who publicly rejected key Christian beliefs, such as Jesus' bodily Resurrection, the Incarnation and the divinity of Christ.
One of my close friends had been allowed by Bishop Edward Kelly MSC (Toowoomba's previous bishop) to begin his studies at another seminary because of his concerns about Brisbane's Banyo Seminary. One of Bishop Morris's first actions was to pull him out and make him start all over again at Banyo.
The bishop then used his contacts to report on this seminarian's every movement, hauling him over the coals for such outrageous indiscretions as praying the Rosary with his friends, attending Adoration and Benediction, being present at a Latin Mass, reading the Catechism and supporting the Church's teachings in their entirety.
My friend was not even allowed to serve on the altar at my wedding (Mass in English celebrated by the Administrator in a Toowoomba parish) because he was afraid of what the Bishop would say when ( not if) he was told about it. As a result, he was turned inside out trying to be faithful to the Bishop as well as to the Church.
The tragedy of this episode is that this young man not only lost his vocation, but also his faith (and he wasn't the only one). No wonder the Toowoomba Diocese has ended up with a dearth of vocations and a shortage of priests.
Bishop Morris likes to present himself as one who consulted with and listened to people. The truth is that he only listened to those with whom he agreed while anyone else would be intimidated into silence.