Bishop William Morris doubles down in refusing to resign from the Diocese of Toowoomba. He responds to charges that he supports women’s ordination and recognizing some Protestant priestly orders as valid.
How it can be said that my Pastoral Letter teaches these things is beyond me when it purely refers to the fact that these are among many questions being discussed internationally, nationally and locally. To me this shows a total misreading and misinterpretation of what my Pastoral Letter is saying. Pope Benedict further states that my leadership of the priests and faithful of the diocese raises serious questions and that the diocesan bishop must above all be an authentic teacher of the faith, which is the foundation of all pastoral ministry. This is said without any foundation or proof. I have also been told that it is the bishops role to support the Pope in whatever he says without question, to teach from the Catechism and the documents of the Church and not to ask questions about topics that have been declared definitive or closed. I ask you, where is the Spirit in this? I was also told by Pope Benedict that I am too practical and it is the will of God that I resign.
Where is the Spirit in this? Considering the teaching or male-only ordination is part of the ordinary magisterium I should certainly say the Holy Spirit is involved in that. The problem is not with asking questions about these subjects, but with rejecting the answers. When the Pope writes “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” it does not mean that you get to keep questioning and doubting. Even though Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was not a solemn definition itself, it is an infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium. But even if it had only been taught as part of the Papal Magisterium:
LG 25: “Religious submission of mind and of will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the repeated presentation of the same doctrine, or from the manner of speaking.”
I’m not seeing much religious submission on the part of Bishop Morris, or much submission at all for that matter.
He is also being a bit disingenuous on his pastoral letter – a letter he later scrubbed from his site. In it he wrote:
As has been discussed internationally, nationally and locally the ideas of:
• ordaining women, married or single;
• recognising Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church Orders.
He mixed these in with valid approaches for the vocation crisis in his diocese. Just presenting them as “ideas” in a pastoral document is rather weaselly since bringing it up implies some level of support for the idea. Certainly all the women ordination advocates totally believe that he supports them.
If indeed he supports the Church’s teaching than why not make a positive statement in this regard as Australia Incognita suggests? If he is really just misunderstood it would have been simple for him to affirm the Church’s teaching.
The whole process has relied on the presumption that I would be compliant and resign. However, I cannot do so in conscience because my resignation would be based on my acceptance of a lie. My resignation would mean that I accept the assessment of my being unfaithful to the Magisterium and breaking communio. I absolutely refute and reject this assessment. I do not accept that there is any grave reason for me to resign and the conditions of Canon 401 §§ 1,2 not being met, it would be dishonest of me to suggest that they had.
Funny thing that when the Pope asks you to resign their usually is a presumption that you will be compliant and resign. You know that whole Holy Obedience thing? What if St. Padre Pio refused to stop offering Mass publicly with the excuse that doing so would give in to the false accusations against him? Bearing accusations even if false is a path of humility and holiness and I detect only the path of pride here. There seems to be absolutely no concern for the effects on his diocese and the Australian Bishops Conference by his intransigence.
He even has the audacity to compare himself to St. Thomas More towards the end of his letter. So a bishop refusing to be obedient to the Pope is the same as a man who lost his head for defending the authority of the Pope?
St. Thomas More Ora pro nobis.