May 9, 2011

Pope Benedict has removed Australian Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba from office five years after he wrote a pastoral letter indicating he would be open to ordaining women and married men if Church rules changed to allow such a possibility.

In an open letter to Catholics in his diocese released May 1, Morris said the 2006 letter “has been misread and, I believe, deliberately misinterpreted” by a small group in the diocese.

Morris said misunderstandings about his pastoral letter on the diocese’s serious priest shortage led Pope Benedict to appoint Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver to conduct an apostolic visitation of the Toowoomba Diocese.

“I have never seen the report prepared by the apostolic visitor,” Morris said, and “without due process it has been impossible to resolve these matters, denying me natural justice without any possibility of appropriate defence and advocacy on my behalf.”