"The Age" - recent articles & letters about Bishop Bill Morris
Concerning these items 1: Judge's conclusions 2: Canon lawyer's report 3: ABC radio interview with judge
Barney Swartz on Feb 2 published two articles: Barney in Age Barney in SMH
...which begat the letters below (latest update: Feb 14 post of Peter Johnstone, below)
Feb 4 Letter to The Age (Also published in SMH Feb 4, and in unedited form on Melbourne Diocesan Website, Feb 4)
''BISHOP'S sacking reveals the Inquisition's heavy hand remains ready to strike'' (Comment & Debate, 2/2) regarding the removal of Bishop William Morris is unfair and inaccurate. I understand W. J. Carter, QC, is an eminent civil lawyer. Father Ian Waters' canon law reflection is based solely on the Carter report.
The Holy See conducted a pastoral process of dialogue with Bishop Morris over 11 years involving senior officials of three offices of the Roman Curia, meetings in Rome and a meeting with Pope Benedict.
An archbishop of an overseas diocese appointed by the Holy See to investigate the matter said he discussed the contents of his report with Bishop Morris in Toowoomba. Last October, in Rome, Australian bishops were informed of the efforts made by the Holy See to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution. The Pope has final power throughout the church. Father Waters is misrepresented by the statement that the Pope breached canon law and exceeded his authority.
Denis Hart, Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, East Melbourne
Feb 7 Letter to The Age
DENIS Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne (Letters, 4/2) states on the matter of Bishop Morris' dismissal by the Pope: ''The Pope has final power throughout the Church.'' That seems a little simplistic and very worrying.
Is the Archbishop implying that the Pope's power is absolute, to be exercised without due process or accountability, even to God? Eminent legal opinions, both secular and church, have concluded that ''Bishop Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice''. Denis Hart claims the Pope did not breach church law. For the record, the Code of Canon Law states (221, 3): ''The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law''.
It is not the Pope's power in question here, although perhaps it should be. It is the question of how that power is exercised. And what is the role of the bishops of the Church, especially Bishop Morris' brother bishops in Australia, when the Pope has been found to act unjustly? As an Australian Catholic, I expect my bishops to take a stand, not to rationalise a decision that fails justice by secular and church standards.
Peter Johnstone, Doncaster East
Feb 8 Letter to The Age (also published in SMH Feb 9 - anyone have link?)
ARCHBISHOP Hart stated that Archbishop Charles Chaput (of Denver, sent by the Pope to investigate the Toowoomba diocese) discussed with me the contents of his report (Letters, 4/2). I categorically deny that Archbishop Chaput ever discussed with me what he was going to put in the report. His discussion was always focused on clarifying the questions he had brought with him from Rome and those that had arisen in his inquisitorial examination.
Archbishop Hart's comments concerning the process by the Holy See are also inaccurate.
He is correct in stating the Pope did not act against canon law because he is the legislator and therefore decides what is canonical. However, he omits to acknowledge that while the Pope is the Vicar of Christ for the Universal Church, Vatican II clearly taught that each diocesan bishop is the Vicar of Christ in and for his diocese.
William Morris, Bishop Emeritus of Toowoomba
Feb 14 Post from Peter Johnstone, Melbourne (in a personal capacity) (Previous post this file - Feb 7, above; another post)
“On the question of Archbishop Hart’s letter to The Age, it seems to me a semantic distraction to argue whether Father Ian Waters was misrepresented by the media’s interpretation that he was highly critical of the pope’s actions in the Bishop Morris case. While Fr Waters did not claim that the pope had acted contrary to Canon Law, he did conclude as follows:
“I respectfully concur with Mr Carter’s conclusion that ‘Bishop Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice.”
Archbishop Hart stated in his letter: “The Pope has final power throughout the Church”. That is correct according to canon law but does that mean that the Pope’s power is absolute and unfettered, to be exercised without due process or accountability, even to God? As Fr Waters concluded, Bishop Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice, surely a clear and serious criticism of the Pope. I find no comfort in an assurance that that the Pope did not breach canon law.
What is the role of the bishops of the Church, especially Bishop Morris’ brother bishops in Australia, when the Pope has been found to act unjustly? As an Australian Catholic, I expect my bishops to take a stand, not to rationalise a decision that fails justice by secular and church standards. Archbishop Hart’s letter to The Age implicitly defends this denial of natural justice. I can only hope that our bishops are privately adopting a stronger position in their discussions with the Vatican.”
This post is in response to the Feb 12 CathNews report: BlogWatcher - US canon lawyer supports Archbishop Hart
Morris Thanksgiving Mass
Morris letter to bishops
At top of main page of www.v2catholic.com