Support mounts for sacked Queensland bishop

Two protest vigils have been held for sacked Queensland bishop, William Morris and some Catholics are threatening to leave the Church as a result of the way the Pope has handled the situation.

About 200 people gathered for a quiet prayer session opposite Bishop Morris’s Toowoomba home at Queen’s Park on Tuesday evening, while another group gathered at the city’s St Patrick’s cathedral.

Eight Toowoomba diocese priests on Tuesday issued a statement expressing support for the catholic bishop.

“The far greater majority of priests and lay people of the diocese have found the pastoral leadership of Bishop Morris to be constructive, informed and life-giving,” they said.

Father Peter Dorfield, the vicar general of the Toowoomba diocese, and one of eight priests who co-authored the letter of support, told AAP Bishop Morris helped the families of the victims seek civil court action if they wanted it.

“He encouraged compassion and justice for these families,” he said.

Fr Dorfield says, compared to what Bishop Morris did for the community, his sacking over his 2006 letter seemed trivial.

“In our view, Bishop Morris has not been treated fairly or respectfully,” the joint statement says.

“We find his removal profoundly disheartening.”

Priest of the diocese and supporter of Bishop Morris, Fr Jamie Collins said “A lot of people feel hurt and devastated by what’s happened, especially as he has always been so open and transparent in his own leadership. I think their faith will be affected in some way, but I think like Bill, they’re not angry but sad. It has caused them to question their faith in Church leadership.”

Another priest who wished to remain anonymous, said he had been approached by Catholics who threatened to leave the Church.

Bathersby supports Rome

Brisbane’s Archbishop John Bathersby says the Pope must have had a good reason to sack the bishop of the Diocese of Toowoomba in Queensland, and while he does not know the “ins and outs of the situation” he knew Bill very well, and the outcome saddened him.

Bathersby said he supported the actions Rome had taken.

Temple Police

For his part, Bishop Morris, on Tuesday said he was not angry about his forced resignation. He was however “sad”.

The problem is the  “temple police”,  a group of about 15 parishioners and priests and what they do is continually protest to Rome,” Bishop Morris said. “Naturally the Vatican doesn’t get letters from all the people who are happy,” he said.

Bishop Morris said it would be wrong for people to walk away. “The important thing is to keep going, working together and making sure there is true justice through transparency”.


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