Tag Archive: toowoomba

Toowoomba has a new bishop

The information has just been released that the Holy Father has appointed a new bishop to Toowoomba.

Monsignor Robert McGuckin of Parramatta will succeed Bishop Bill Morris as the sixth Bishop of Toowoomba, and will be ordained bishop on 11 July 2012, the feast of Saint Benedict.

Prayers for the bishop-elect and the faithful of Toowoomba.

See also:

Apostolic Nunciature announcement – Toowoomba

Other statements at: http://www.catholic.org.au/

Australia Incognita: A bishop-elect for Toowoomba at last: Rev Robert McGurkin

I’ve just heard about the pro-life effort, Emily’s Voice.  Their mission statement from their website states the following:

You may be wondering who is Emily? Why does she need a voice?

Emily represents at least 80,000 little Australian each year who won’t be given the chance to experience life outside the womb.

Emily represents an entire primary school of Aussie children who are lost every day through abortions.

Our nation desperately needs to discover Emily and the 80,000 unborn children she represents. To discover love, to discover beauty and to discover life itself.

Motivated by love the mother and the unborn child, Emily’s Voice strives to take our nation on this journey of discovery.

We aim, with your help, to give Emily a voice.

Emily’s Voice aims to:

Be motivated by love for the both the mother and unborn child.

Help every Australian fall in love with the unborn.

Shine a bright light on the dark side of the womb.

Their current campaign is Not Born Yet.

It seems that the campaign is having an effect on people, as suggested by the results of a Galaxy Poll.

Our television advertisements have been successful in changing community attitudes to abortion, according to a Galaxy survey conducted in February.

Emily’s Voice CEO Paul O’Rourke said the poll showed only 36 per cent of residents in the Toowoomba local government area were in favour of abortion, compared with the State and national averages of more than 60 per cent.

“This is a remarkable result and is testimony to the influence of not only Emily’s Voice but the churches of Toowoomba who have long sought to love and serve the city in practical ways,’’ he said.

The Galaxy poll also showed Toowoomba residents are aware of the Emily’s Voice advertisements and believe they are credible.  The ads have stimulated discussions about abortion and, importantly, have changed people’s views on abortion, particularly those in the 16-24 age group.

The Not Born Yet campaign primarily shows women and couples who continued with an unintended pregnancy despite being single, under financial pressure, or who discovered they were having a child with a disability. One features a young woman who speaks of her pain and regret at having had an abortion.

“Seventy-one per cent of women said they were aware of the ads (sixty per cent of all respondents), 83 per cent of all respondents said the advertisements were credible, 65 per cent said the advertisements made them think about the human consequences of abortion and 7 per cent said the advertisements had changed their views on abortion, most saying they were more opposed to abortion or less in favour than they had been.

“Another pleasing aspect of the poll is the influence our ads are having on the 16-24 age group. Forty-four per cent of this age group said they had spoken to friends and family about abortion and 22 per cent had changed their views on abortion.”

Emily’s Voice commissioned the Galaxy poll to determine the effectiveness of its advertising which has aired locally for the past few years.

The strategy has been to use a combination of television advertisements, billboards and bus-backs to influence culture.

“We have been determined to present a positive message of hope, using real local people who share their personal experiences,” Paul O’Rourke said.

“We are delighted that the advertisements are viewed so positively and have made people think about the consequences of abortion, both for women and their unborn children.”

[Source: http://www.emilysvoice.com/learn-more/news/]

This looks like a great work.  Well done to those involved.

Dr Edward Peters has posted on his blog today two further canonical reflections subsequent to the Report by Judge William Carter and the Canonical Reflection of Fr Ian Waters on Bishop Morris and Toowoomba.  The first post: What’s up Down Under?, is followed by: Fr. Waters’ ‘Reflections’, whether right, wrong, or somewhere in between, are reasonable.


Pope has final power

Following what I posted recently regarding the Toowoomba situation,  I draw readers’ attention to the following from the website of the Archdiocese of Melbourne:

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.

Dear Sir,

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.

Yours sincerely

[signed] + Denis J. Hart

There is more commentary over at Australia Incognita.



The situation in the Toowoomba Diocese has been in the press again of late following the release of civil and canonical opinions.  I suggest that anyone reflecting and commenting on this issue would do well to re-read the Statement that our Bishops in Australia released on 21 October 2011 following their Ad limina visit to Rome.  I put the text here …



 Our letter to Bishop Brian Finnigan in May said that, during the Ad Limina visit in October, we would have discussions concerning the events which led to the departure of Bishop William Morris from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Toowoomba.  That has been done.

 We had individual meetings with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Subsequently we had a joint meeting with Cardinal Ouellet and Cardinal Levada.  As well, we ourselves met several times.

 We were very appreciative of the time given to us by the Cardinals and the personal and pastoral concern which they expressed. Our discussions with them were substantial, serious and candid.

 These meetings have given us a more adequate understanding of what was done by the Holy See in an attempt to resolve the difficulties with Bishop Morris, which concerned not only matters of Church discipline but also of Church doctrine definitively taught, such as on the ministerial priesthood.  What the Holy See did was fraternal and pastoral rather than juridical in character.  Although efforts continued over many years, a critical point came when Bishop Morris failed to clarify his position to the satisfaction of the Holy See and then found himself unable to resign as Bishop of the Diocese when the Holy Father made the request.

 What was at stake was the Church’s unity in faith and the ecclesial communion between the Pope and the other Bishops in the College of Bishops. Eventually Bishop Morris was unable to agree to what this communion requires and at that point the Pope acted as the Successor of Peter, who has the task of deciding what constitutes unity and communion in the Church.

 We express our acceptance of the Holy Father’s exercise of his Petrine ministry, and we reaffirm our communion with and under Peter. We return to Australia determined to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division, to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia.


I think the message is clear from the Bishops that the Holy Father acted entirely within his powers, since “[b]y virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely” (canon 331, Code of Canon Law).  There is no process in the Code for the removal of a bishop, and so it’s fairly hard to assert that the Pope “broke” canon law in this regard.  The norms for the removal or transfer of pastors (i.e. Parish Priests) found in canons 1740-1752 do not apply to bishops.

At any rate, what’s most important now – as the Bishops have stated – is to heal any wounds of division and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia.  Let us keep in our prayers the selection of a new bishop for Toowoomba Diocese.

Prayers from the Roman Missal “For the Election of a Pope or a Bishop”:

[h/t to Psallite Sapienter]

O God, eternal shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through…

May your abundant kindness favour us, O Lord, that [, through the sacred offerings we reverently bring to you,*] we may come to rejoice that a pastor pleasing to your majesty presides over your holy Church. Through Christ our Lord.

[As we have been renewed,*] O Lord, [with the supreme Sacrament of salvation, the Body and Blood of your Only Begotten Son,*] may the wondrous grace of your majesty gladden us with the gift of a shepherd who will instruct your people by his virtues and imbue the minds of the faithful with the truth of the Gospel. Through Christ our Lord.

 * Omit these phrases if these prayers are not used at Mass.

Bishop Finnegan died today

The emeritus bishop of the diocese of Killala, Ireland – Bishop Thomas Anthony Finnegan – died today, 26 December 2011, at the age of 86.  One of my confreres here in Ottawa is a priest of that diocese.

I assume that Bishop Brian V. Finnigan, auxiliary of Brisbane and apostolic administrator of Toowoomba, is alive and well!

May God rest the soul of Bp Finnegan, and give all strength to Bp Finnigan for his currently extra-busy ministry between those two south-east Queensland sees.

(And forgive me if I made you read this post under false pretences).


And, from Toowoomba …

And of interest too, I think, is the Christmas message from Bishop Finnigan, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Toowoomba, following the tumultuous year there, not just ecclesiastically.

His message can be viewed here.


Source: http://www.twb.catholic.org.au/

I just want to give a little plug for the Marian Conference that is being held in Toowoomba this coming Saturday, 5 November 2011, 8am – 4pm, at Holy Name Parish School Hall, 190 Bridge Street, Toowoomba.

See the flyer: MarianConferenceNov2011.

One message I received about the conference said the following:

One more reason for attending is:-
Holy Name Parishioners are praying that  this conference to honour Our Blessed Mother, will be the start of a turn around for the Diocese of Toowoomba, which was once a great Eucharistic and Marian Diocese.
Be part of this movement of the Holy Spirit for reconciliation and unity and come to the Marian Conference to honour Our Lady of The Southern Cross the Patroness of the Toowoomba Diocese.
As the flyer indicates, one of the speakers at the Conference is Bishop Finnigan, the Apostolic Administrator of Toowoomba.  Even if you can’t be there, please remember the conference in your prayers, and do continue praying for the Diocese of Toowoomba.

I am a little horrified that Bishop Morris, emeritus of Toowoomba, has now publicly criticised the Australian Catholic Bishops, who I think had been quite fair in the statement they released last week.  And more than that, I’m scandalised that his response is publicised on the Toowoomba Diocesan website (see here, and the full document here).

Let’s renew our prayers that the Australian bishops can do what they said they were determined to do: “to heal any wounds of division.”



Further to my earlier post on the statement released by the Australian Bishops regarding the Toowoomba situation,  some have commented on what seems to be the unusual phrase, “we reaffirm our communion with and under Peter.”  The phrase, I believe, is a reference to Vatican II’s (that’s right, Vatican II) Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, wherein we read:

Bishops, sharing in the solicitude for all the churches, exercise this episcopal office of theirs, which they have received through episcopal consecration, in communion with and under the authority of the supreme pontiff. (n. 3)

From a quick search, it seems that the words “and under” are not found in the more well-known Lumen Gentium of Vatican II, nor in the Code of Canon Law (1983), which might account for its seeming a bit unfamiliar.  I think it would also be fair to say that the following terms have a synonymous use in ecclesiastical documents: Peter = supreme pontiff = pope = successor of (St) Peter = Roman pontiff = Vicar of Christ.

I will add, which I didn’t before, that I think this statement from the bishops is excellent. It succinctly and truthfully – and I believe charitably – describes the situation, and points us in the forward direction.

Let’s continue to pray for the clergy, religious and all the faithful of the Toowoomba Diocese, and through the intercession of Mary of the Southern Cross, may a bishop be chosen who can continue to lead the church there with the love of the Good Shepherd.