Support for Pope Benedict XVI in the wake of the removal of Bishop William Morris from Toowoomba.
Despite his removal from office nearly 3 months ago, Bishop William Morris is still raking the coals and stirring discontent in the diocese of Toowoomba. Clergy are encouraging the laity to write letters of complaint to the apostolic nuncio and various Curial offices in Rome to voice their discontent. Lay leaders in the diocese have created a website where they continue to peddle the former Bishop's story that the actions of the Pope represent a denial of "natural justice", "due process", and a disregard for the Sensus Fidelium, found only in the supporters of the Bishop. The divisions in the Church of Toowoomba are now clearly defined. Petitions are being circulated to do little more than criticise the Holy Father, and it is for this reason that we have created this petition.
Firstly, please don't feel you have to be from Toowoomba to sign this petition. The Church is universal so we will greatfully accept signatories from anywhere in the universal Church.
Secondly, we ask you to pray for the Holy Father, that the Lord will give him the strength to continue to to make the dificult decisions required to lead the Church at this hour. Let us surround him with Love and create a spiritual barrier arround him that he might not feel the assaults of the enemy.
Thirdly, we ask you to pray for Bishop Morris, for his successor, and for the faithful of the Toowoomba Diocese. May these painful days be the birth pangs of a great renewal of the faith in the diocese and may the land that has lain fallow for the last 18 years bear a bountiful harvest that will become a sign of the greatness of our God
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To His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,
We, the undersigned, share your sadness in the need to remove Bishop William Morris from office as the Bishop of Toowoomba (2/05/2011). We understand that many people are unhappy about this difficult decision, and have even gone so far as to blame you and the heads of the various dicasteries that have had to deal with Bishop Morris, claiming that you have acted without justice or due process. Indeed we understand that these charges have been promoted by Bishop Morris himself in his letter to the parishioners of the Toowoomba Diocese (available at: http://www.twb.catholic.org.au/documents/bishop_morris_letter_to_parishioners.pdf).
We wish to affirm the following:
- That we accept as definitive the teaching of Bl. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 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” and give it our complete assent. We further acknowledge that this teaching “has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2)” and belongs to the deposit of faith.
- That we accept as definitive the teaching of Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae, 18 September 1896, “that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.”
- We believe that it is your ardent desire that all peoples, even in remote areas, have frequent access to the sacramental life of the Church. We also believe that this communion is not just a personal communion with Christ, but it is the exterior sign of an interior reality, It is a sign of our communion with the body of Christ, made visible in His Catholic Church. We acknowledge that in receiving communion we are also making an act of assent to the doctrines and teachings of the Holy Catholic Church and submitting freely to the authority of the Sacred Magisterium, headed by the successor of St Peter, the Roman Pontiff.
- That the primary guarantee that the faithful will have access to the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist, is through the robust promotion of vocations to the priesthood. We acknowledge that as Bl. John Paul II said to the Australian Bishops during their ad limina visit in December 1998, “there is a direct link between the ministry of the Bishop and the state of the priesthood in his diocese, with regard both to the recruitment of suitable candidates to the priesthood and to the exercise of priestly ministry” and recognise that the continued failure to engender vocations to the priesthood over 18 years must sadly reflect a failure of the ministry of Bishop Morris.
- Despite assertions of some to the contrary we understand that you and indeed all Bishops are bound to act in accordance with the Sacred Tradition that has been received from the Apostles through the Apostolic Succession. We know that the sensus fidelium does not simply constitute a majority opinion but is, rather, present in the whole church and not bound to any one moment or place. We fundamentally reject the proposition that the decision to remove Bishop Morris from office is an action contrary to the sensus fidelium, as it goes against the wishes of the majority in the diocese and beyond who value his leadership. We gratefully acknowledge the difficulty of this decision for you, and know that it was for the long term spiritual and moral good of Christ’s flock in Toowoomba that you acted as chief pastor of His Church in order to restore the orthodox faith and practice of the faithful.
- It is with sadness that we acknowledge the continued dissent and disloyalty among many of the clergy and faithful in Toowoomba who feel a greater affinity for Bishop Morris than they do for the Church. We know that much of this is symptomatic of a failure in teaching and catechesis over a number of years. For this reason we pledge to support and assist whomever you appoint to calm this turbulent See with our prayers, love, material and moral support when and how we can.
- We pledge our prayers, love and fidelity for you as you continue to carry the heavy burden of the Papacy. We thank you for the work you are doing for all of us, and pray the Lord protect you from all enemies and grant you a long and blessed life upon the Earth.