Vatican removes Australian bishop who said he was open to ordaining women

Published May 3, 2011

View of the Vatican with Saint Peter’s Basilica and Sant’Angelo’s Bridge. Photo: Antoine Beyeler

The Vatican on May 2  announced that it relieved
 Australian bishop William Morris of his post, five years after he
 published a letter interpreted to indicate that he would be open to
 ordaining women and married men as priests if it were not prohibited by
 church rules.

In an open letter released in his Toowoomba diocese, which is west of
 Brisbane, Morris said his 2006 letter had been "misread, and, I believe,
 deliberately misinterpreted." Morris said he was encouraged to resign
 but that he declined to do so on the grounds that doing so would "mean 
that I accept the assessment of myself as breaking communion [with the
Holy See], which I absolutely refute and reject." He added that he was
 being forced into early retirement.

In this 2006 letter, Morris suggested it might be time for the church to
 consider married priests and the ordination of women due to the
 dwindling numbers of Catholic priests particularly in rural and regional 
areas such as his diocese, according to the Toowoomba Chronicle

The Chronicle also reported that supporters of Morris scheduled a
 candlelight walk and vigil for the evening of May 3 in Toowoomba.

The Vatican did not elaborate on its decision. Church doctrine
 stipulates that since only men were chosen as Jesus’ apostles, only men
 can serve as priests. Although the church accepts former Anglican clergy 
who are married, the tradition of priestly celibacy has endured since 
the Middle Ages and has been debated since the earliest years of the


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