Australian Catholics petition Vatican for removal of bishop over LGBTI stance

removal of Australian bishop

Catholics in an Australian diocese have submitted a formal appeal to the Vatican, calling for the removal of their bishop over his support of same-sex relationships.

In their petition to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the complainants from the Diocese of Parramatta, Australia.

They also seek the removal of the diocese’s vicar general and its executive director of Catholic education.

The appeal accuses Bishop Vincent Long Văn Nguyễn and his vicar for education in the diocese, Father Christopher de Souza, of causing scandal by promoting in diocesan schools teachings on homosexuality that contradict Church teachings.

There are a series of other complaints, including allegations that two diocesan priests were harassed out of their positions because they do not share the diocese’s approach to homosexuality.

Bishop Long, 59, is the first Vietnamese-born bishop to lead a diocese outside of Vietnam and the first Vietnamese-born bishop in Australia.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Melbourne in 2011 by Benedict XVI. Pope Francis appointed him the ordinary of Parramatta in 2016.

In 2017, Bishop Long made clear his approach, saying he was committed to making the Church in Parramatta a “house for all peoples, a church where there is less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity.”

He added: “We must commit ourselves to the task of reaching out to our LGBTI brothers and sisters, affirming their dignity and accompanying them on our common journey towards the fullness of life and love in God.”

Two petitions were sent last year to Bishop Long, the vicar general and the apostolic nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Tito Yllana, via email and registered mail, but the organizers said they received no response.

“After exhausting all possible means to discuss privately with the bishop with regard to the request for transparency and the curriculum issues, we have not heard from the bishop with regard to the formal submission of the two petitions to him,” said Bernadette Ching, organizer of the first petition.

Ching and other disaffected faithful therefore took the decision to send a “formal canon-law submission to Rome” and called on the Vatican “to remove Bishop Long and vicar general [Father] Chris de Souza for violation of canon law and teaching doctrinal errors to the detriment of the souls of our faithful.”

The petitioners are demanding Father de Souza’s resignation because he oversees the work of the education department that they say has been responsible for introducing a pro-homosexual agenda into schools.

On Sunday, April 25 Long delivered a homily in which he said, “I don’t believe we have anything to fear from a respectful and intelligent dialogue, with our sons and daughters, with our deeply committed teaching staff in a caring, Catholic environment.”

Life can be “complex,” he added, “but the Church is not a cult, a ghetto, that refuses to engage, to dialogue, or to challenge our contemporary culture.”

The bishop’s emphasis on the importance of dialogue did not go unnoticed by his concerned and unheeded flock as they wait to hear from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Although we all have yet to get a response to our request to dialogue,” Ching said, “we hope Bishop Vincent Long stays true to his words.”


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