The Roman Catholic Church has sacked the bishop of Toowoomba after 18 years of service for his belief that women can be priests.
In his 2006 Advent pastoral letter to priests in his diocese, Bishop William Morris questioned the practice of sourcing Catholic priests from Africa, and suggested the shortage of Catholic priests in Australia would be better addressed by considering admitting married men and women to the priesthood.
Morris met with Pope Benedict in 2009 about his views. He is now taking “early retirement” at age 67. The usual retirement age for bishops is 75.
In Morris’ resignation letter, read out in all the churches in his diocese, he specified that Pope Benedict had instructed that “the diocese would be better served by the leadership of a new bishop”.
Morris was quoted by The Australian on May 3, as saying: “It has been my experience and the experience of others that Rome controls bishops by fear, and if you ask questions or speak openly on subjects that Rome declares closed … you are censored very quickly, told your leadership is defective … and are threatened with dismissal.”
This is not an isolated incident. Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois was sacked and excommunicated in 2008 for his views on women’s ordination. Now, he is being expelled from his religious order.
On May 8, Bourgeois joined other supporters of women’s ordination in a sidewalk demonstration outside the Vatican embassy to the US.
In an April 8 article in Religious Dispatches Magazine Catholic feminist theologian Mary E. Hunt said: “As a senior official for Pope John Paul II, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger envisioned a leaner, meaner church, with conservative doctrine and compliant faithful.
“Now that he is Pope Benedict XVI, his dream is coming true. Other senior churchmen, apparently unaware of the scandal that pedophilia and episcopal cover-ups have wrought, go blithely about their business of disciplining priests, nuns, and theologians.”
[Pastor Karl Hand is an ordained minister in the Metropolitan Community Church, and currently pastors CRAVE MCC. Visit: http://cravemcc.com/ .]