Frankly, I do not know Bishop William M. Morris of the Toowoomba diocese personally. I suspect few U.S. Catholics do. (By the way, if you do, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.) But what is emerging in interviews he has given to the media in Australia in recent days since he was sacked by Pope Benedict XVI is that of a gentle, pastoral bishop.
Morris, having learned that we was to be removed from his post, after the complaints of a band of hard core conservative Catholics, went to Rome to speak with the pope. That meeting took place 14 months back.
Morris asked Pope Benedict to be able to stay on as bishop for three more years, until he reached the age of 70. No, the pope told him, according to Morris, he would be given only until May 2, 2011. Not sure why that date was chosen, but it was to come one day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
Take a few minutes to read the story on this link and be sure to watch the Morris interview given on Australian television. It is really worth your time.
Ask yourself, given all the public failings of so many bishops these past years, why has this one bishop been singled out to be banished from his diocese. Is it to send a message to all the other bishops of the church, a message which says: "Don't cross this line. Don't even get close. No married priests. No women priests. None. Ever. Under no circumstances."
Sometimes I feel so bad for our church.
Pope Benedict please explain yourself.