Saturday 4 February 2012
Archbishop Denis Hart wrote yesterday to the Editor’s of both The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald in response to an article published in both newspapers last Thursday. The article presented opinions that suggested that former Toowoomba Bishop Bill Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice and that the Pope had breached canon law and exceeded his authority in removing Morris. The Archbishop’s letter to The Age is presented below.
The opinion piece “Bishop’s sacking reveals the Inquisition’s heavy hand remains ready to strike” (Age 2/2) re the removal of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba is unfair and inaccurate. I understand WJ Carter QC is an eminent civil lawyer. Father Ian Waters’ Canon Law reflection is based solely on the Carter report.
In fact, the Holy See conducted a pastoral process of dialogue with Bishop Morris over eleven years involving senior officials of three offices of the Roman Curia, a number of meetings in Rome and a personal meeting with Pope Benedict. An Archbishop of another diocese from overseas appointed by the Holy See to investigate the matter has stated that he did discuss the contents of his report with Bishop Morris while he was in Toowoomba. Last October, in Rome, the Australian Bishops were informed of the care taken and the efforts made by the Holy See to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution.
In the Catholic Church, because the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the Universal Church, he has final power throughout the Church and can always freely exercise that power. This includes the appointment, transfer and removal of bishops.
Father Waters is misrepresented by the statement that the Pope has breached Canon Law and exceeded his authority.
In the final analysis the Pope always has freedom to act for the good of the Church in the appointment and removal of bishops.
[signed] + Denis J. Hart