Vatileaks and Bishop Bill Morris
from Pondering the 'what,' not the 'who,' of Vatileaks by John Allen (NCR)
Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, Australia, was removed from office in 2011 on charges of favoring women priests, collective absolution, and other deviations from official teaching and practice. Nuzzi publishes a set of November 2009 notes on the Morris case, written by Benedict XVI himself and addressed to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, at the time the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
The notes were written after a June 2009 meeting between Benedict and Morris, and after Morris had written a letter objecting to the way his case had been handled.
Among other things, Benedict writes that Morris' "theological formation ... is not adequate for his office," citing his views on women's ordination and the possibility of Anglican ministers leading Catholic liturgies.
In his letter, Morris accused the Vatican of a "lack of care for the truth," in part for implying he had agreed to step down. Benedict appears to take responsibility for that point, blaming it on a problem of language.
"Obviously there was a misunderstanding, created, it seems to me, by my insufficient knowledge of the English language," Benedict writes. "In our meeting, I tried to convince him that his resignation was desirable, and I thought he expressed his willingness to renounce his functions as bishop of Toowoomba."
"From his letter, I see this was a misunderstanding," Benedict writes. "I acknowledge that, but I must say decisively that this isn't a case of 'a lack of care for the truth.'"
In the end, Benedict writes, "there's no doubt of his very good pastoral intentions," but "the diocesan bishop must be, above all, a teacher of the faith, since the faith is the foundation of pastoral activity."
Benedict tells Re to recommend that Morris accept "free renunciation of his actual ministry, in favor of a ministry more consistent with his gifts," and asks Re to "assure him of my prayers."