Home' The Southern Cross : April 2016 Contents The
Part of your Catholic family since 1867
$2 inc. GST
Ph: 8418 2500 or visit
Join the Chorus of Angels who help provide
50,000 meals a year for Adelaide’s homeless,
If anyone is equipped to talk about mercy,
it’s Bishop Bill Morris who was dismissed
as bishop of the Toowoomba Diocese by
Pope Benedict XVI in May 2011.
Bishop Morris was in Adelaide during
Holy Week to give a reflection on mercy
at the annual priests’ prayer day at The
Monastery, Glen Osmond.
He told The Southern Cross that being
merciful was “like stomach cramps, it
goes right to the depths of your being and
almost forces you to reach out and act”.
“We are who we are through our
relationships and if we are going to be
creative and life-giving, we need to make
sure that we don’t carry any baggage or
garbage into those relationships,” he said.
“What you don’t transform, you transmit.”
He said priests were no exception: “We’re
human beings, the whole process of
transformation is a life-time job. If we’re
carrying our anger or got bad liver over
something we’re going to transmit that.
“Somewhere along the line we need to
be able to stand in all our nakedness
before the people we are walking with and
At a personal level, Bishop Morris has
had to deal with a Church disciplinary
process widely criticised for depriving him
of natural justice following complaints to
Rome about his leadership from a small
group within his diocese. He had no
avenue of appealing decisions of Vatican
officials and, ultimately, Pope Benedict.
“I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t
have a conversation; it was a monologue
not a dialogue,” he said.
“I couldn’t understand why they got
locked into such a negative way of acting
and not wanting to really dialogue; it was
‘this is what we will do, this is what you
will do and that’s the end of the story’ and
I’m thinking life’s not like that, it’s bigger
than that, it’s not black and white.”
Bishop Morris said the good that came
out of his removal was “the conversation
that came around the world”.
“I was surprised about the impact it had,
not just in my own diocese, but within
Australia and around the world – it had
a huge impact and the conversation
just went on and on about separation of
powers, justice and conscience, it was
Asked if this conversation extended to the
Vatican, he said it “certainly floated around
the walls” and some of his contacts
in Vatican departments were “totally
surprised at what had happened”.
He insists that he is “very blessed’ and is
grateful for the huge amount of support
he has received, some of which he has
included in his book about the dismissal
entitled, Benedict, Me and the Cardinals
Bishop Morris is confident his treatment
would be different under Pope Francis,
despite the fact that there has been no
change to the process.
“Pope Francis is a whole different ball
game,” he said.
“One of his key words right from the very
start was dialogue and that you can’t have
a relationship without dialogue, but he has
a huge job.
“He’s collegial, he operates in a collegial
way...and he has said to the diacastries
that you are there not to tell the bishops
what to do, you are there to help them
celebrate and lead their dioceses.”
At 72 Bishop Morris is still “terribly
busy” and is heavily involved with
schools, public speaking, writing and
assisting Bishop Robert McGuckin in the
sacramental program of the Toowoomba
He said he would like to meet Pope
Francis but “he’s busy enough without
worrying about me”, adding that he sent
him a copy of his book.
The emeritus bishop remains optimistic
about the future of the Church but
stresses it must be transparent.
“If we try and mask the truth all we do is
not only destroy ourselves but destroy
our relationships,” he said. “Through
wounds we become transparent, then we
can recognise the wounds in others and
become companions in the journey.”
Bishop Morris’ book is available from
Pauline Books or www.atfpress.com
By Jenny Brinkworth
Photo: Nat Rogers
Links Archive March 2016 May 2016 Navigation Next Page