The many grave errors of Toowoomba Bishop William Morris

His pastoral letter (2006) is here; it is appalling in its disregard for the teachings and practices of the Catholic Faith.

1. He approved and encouraged the use of general absolution absent any grave reason

2. He encouraged the practice of scheduling children to receive their First Communion before making their first Confession.

3. His pastoral letter (2006) suggested ordaining married, single or widowed men who are chosen and endorsed by their local parish community. This constitutes a rejection of the norms established by the Holy See for the formation of candidates for the priesthood.

4. His pastoral letter suggested welcoming former priests, married or single, back to active ministry. This disregards the grave reasons that would cause the Church to dismiss ordained men from active ministry. Or, what is worse, might suggest that whether a priest is married or single seems to be of no consequence. This contradicts the discipline of the celibate priesthood, and also the dogma that celibacy is better than marriage.

5. His pastoral letter suggested ordaining women, married or single. This implies the heretical claim that the Church has the authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

6. His pastoral letter suggested recognizing Anglican, Lutheran, and ‘Uniting Church’ Orders. (“The Uniting Church is a union of three churches: the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia.”

This last suggestion is truly bizarre. For while Anglicans claim to have valid orders, all the other denominations to which he refers do not even claim to have a Sacrament of Holy Orders. As for the Anglican claim, the Church has decided, as a dogmatic fact, that they do not. (Apostolicae Curae; See also this article.)

So this suggestion implies a rejection of magisterial teaching on what constitutes a valid Sacrament of Holy Orders, and even what constitutes a valid Sacrament in general. The Council of Trent infallibly taught that for a Sacrament to be valid, the minister of that Sacrament must intend to do what the Church does. But if a Protestant denomination does not even believe in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, they cannot intend to do what the Church does. The suggestion also implies that the communion taken by those Protestant denominations would be a valid Eucharist, contrary to magisterial teaching on the Blessed Sacrament.

Taken as a whole, these errors indicate a Bishop who treats the entire Catholic Faith as if it were not based on unchanging truths of faith, not based on infallible teachings, but instead were entirely subject to human judgment and intervention. This is sometimes the way that secular society views the Church. They think that the Church can change her teaching and her practices to conform to present-day views, as if the Church were not teaching and behaving according to truth and the will of God.

Taken as a whole, these errors indicate a Bishop who had committed, in deed if not in word, the sin of schism from the Church. For he ran his diocese as if the teachings and practices of the rest of the Church, and of the Magisterium, and of the Holy See, were irrelevant to his decisions.

It is a serious problem that he was not able to be removed sooner by the Holy See.

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