Australian Bishop Removed; Supports Women Priests

Apostolic Administrator Named for Toowoomba

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TOOWOOMBA, Australia, MAY 2, 2011 ( Benedict XVI accepted the retirement of Bishop William Morris, 67, from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Toowoomba.

The Australian apostolic nunciature announced today that the Pope released Bishop Morris from the governance of the diocese, and appointed Auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnegan of Brisbane as apostolic administrator of Toowoomba.

In a letter distributed over the weekend, Bishop Morris stated that it «has been determined by Pope Benedict that the diocese would be better served by the leadership of a new bishop.»

He noted that this was a consequence of the fact that «some of those who have been disaffected by my leadership» have made «complaints about me, some of these complaints being based on my Advent Pastoral Letter of 2006.»

Among other things, the pastoral letter reportedly suggested ordaining women and married men to the priesthood as a solution for a shortage of vocations in that diocese.

Bishop Morris noted that «this led to an apostolic visitation and an ongoing dialogue between myself and the Congregations for Bishops, Divine Worship and Doctrine of the Faith and eventually Pope Benedict.»

The prelate had been serving as bishop of Toowoomba since 1993.

Bishop Finnegan released a pastoral statement today in which he acknowledged, «I am grateful for the generous and kind welcome of Bishop Bill Morris who has confidence that the dedication of the priests, religious and other leaders of agencies, etc. will continue, and will be supportive of my role.»

«In every significant change,» he added, «various people have mixed feelings where there can be anger and disappointment on the one hand and peace and hope on the other.»

The prelate stated, «Hopefully there can be growth, whatever the feelings, as we all hear the call for reconciliation, conversion, forgiveness, service and the Lord’s desire that we advance towards fullness of life.»

The Toowoomba Diocese has 65,900 Catholics, with 50 priests and 73 religious.

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