For several decades the five dioceses in the Australian state of Queensland have been synonymous with that strange religion of Conciliarism and, consequently, the lowest Mass attendances in the land. On 2 May 2011, therefore, after such a long period of Vatican neglect and inexorable decay, it was mildly surprising to actually hear read out at all parishes of the Toowoomba diocese, a letter announcing the resignation of Bishop William Martin Morris. Thus ended eighteen years of his Modernist "leadership". And the chattering classes didn’t like it!
Now that was news; not only in our local small town paper but in media outlets around the country and abroad. It made the front page of the national paper, The Australian, and seemingly every radio and television station. The near universal opinion seemed to be that the nasty, undemocratic Vatican had squashed a free thinking and thoroughly nice bloke. No wonder the Church is becoming irrelevant if its "foreign leadership" cannot move with the times and so badly mistreats such popular figures.
Nice story. Shame about the facts!
The current Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, should be familiar to CO readers from the February 2011 edition, where the editor recounted his support of the "witches of Brisbane" and the scandalous St. Mary’s parish. In light of the May CO, I should add that in 1996 he was also mentioned in the press as having proposed the toast to a newly installed Grand Master at a Masonic lodge.
In that regard, it is indicative of how Toowoomba has since been accommodated to the Party Line that last year its diocesan magazine gushed about an award given to a local priest by the Lodge of which he was a member! Faced with such routine and brazen treachery, it is hard to believe that prior to William Morris being elevated and given charge of the diocese, Toowoomba had the distinction of having the last Catholic bishop in Queensland, Edward Kelly, who was personally orthodox.
Indeed, when Bishop Morris became the ordinary, in 1993, the diocese had over 40 active priests. We now have 12. (Toowoomba diocese is almost twice the size of the British Isles.) Traditionally, with its vibrant Irish and Italian communities, the diocese was a net supplier of priests and religious to others. Currently, we have not had an ordination for the diocese for a decade.
How ironic that the latest seminarian from the area was recently ordained in Sydney, for the Fraternity of Saint Peter, by Cardinal Pell. And how telling that for the last seven years "Bishop Bill" would not have been aware of him, since he attended the Latin Mass community in Brisbane. Needless to say, the FSSP is not allowed anywhere in Queensland as they look, talk and act like Catholic priests. So he has been assigned to work in New Jersey, USA.
Greying baby-boomers constitute most of the Mass congregations and they have provided the support base for Bishop Morris and his “progressive” priests, who also average about 65 years of age. Every year there are less people at Mass yet this does not deter the diocese from pushing the same tired and failed practices. This is the Vatican II "Springtime" in action!
Their only success has been the promotion of ecumenism and the lay-led “priestless” Church. While working as a doctor in rural and outback communities, one of my sons had difficulty getting to Mass because an advertised Mass could turn out to be a lay-led "Eucharistic Service." Further, notices on church doors throughout the diocese advise that on certain days a combined service will be held at the Anglican church. I know of at least one case where a Catholic priest concelebrated a requiem Mass with an Anglican minister at an Anglican church. The religiously illiterate congregation did not even flinch. Nor do they object when the deceased are routinely canonised at CINO funerals passed off as Catholic.
About a decade ago our parish priest had arranged for two priests from Poland to come to the parish. Bishop Morris refused to allow it. The responsible Polish bishop was flabbergasted. He called the parish priest and asked, incredulously: "Does he realise that I have approved this transfer?" What he did not appreciate was that because his priests were Catholic they would never be tolerated in Toowoomba; aka Modernist Central.
We have had eighteen long years of the most heinous liturgical abuses, such as "clown liturgies." In 1996, the Bishop presided before 2000 high school students at the Toowoomba show grounds with his face fully painted and matching clown faces on his stole. He also did "clown confirmations," with one local paper featuring his clown face, complete with red (ping-pong ball) nose.
The Third Rite of confession (general absolution) was the norm in many parishes until the Vatican stepped in after an allegedly "disloyal and un-Australian" campaign by a "secret fundamentalist group of Catholics" (otherwise known as "the Temple Police"). In some of these "rites," people wrote out their sins on paper and placed them in a container so they could be burned. In one parish, on the rare occasions when individual confessions were held, the priest asked the last person to hear his confession! The Third Rite still goes on in many parishes despite the Vatican injunction but is now called "communal reconciliation." At least one parish still has children receiving their first confession in this way.
In April 2007, the diocese had a visitation from Archbishop Chaput of Denver, Colorado. He listened to submissions from all sides and filed his report. We now know that in October 2007 the Congregation for Bishops, "in the name of the Holy Father," asked Bishop Morris to resign. It was the first time anyone in Australia could recall a bishop being dismissed for doctrinal reasons.
Apparently he tried to negotiate terms and conditions thereafter, all the while refusing to modify his heterodox/heretical stance. Thus, his doleful leadership has dragged on for yet a further three-and-a-half years longer than necessary.
The Morris Effect
For the rest of us who have had to live through this catastrophic eighteen years for the Church, the Morris saga is painful and personal. To see the light of a once vibrant and faithful diocese whimper and fade, almost to the point of oblivion, through a combination of negligence, heterodoxy and heresy emanating from the bishop and his Modernist lackeys, both clerical and lay, is the most painful experience of my life.
Catholics constitute nearly 30% of Australia's total population; nominally the largest religion. Just what percentage of that figure still attends Mass in our diocese is difficult to say exactly as no figures are kept. But I would suggest that it is now well below 10%, in line with the dismal trend throughout Queensland. And with this death of the diocese, the Culture of Death itself, in the form of Planned Parenthood, is now being invited into CINO schools as part of "sex education." No wonder the young are missing in action. The victory of secularism is all but complete.
The burning issue for us now is: who will replace William Morris? And also the Modernist Archbishop of Brisbane, who is due to retire at the end of July? Two mitred crooks leaving simultaneously is a cause of real joy. But although I will raise a glass to that happy occurrence and the reforming opportunity it offers, I cannot drink rousing toasts to a reversal of the Morris Effect and a rebirth of Catholicism in the diocese. That would be unrealistic. I will, however, continue my rosary and prayers for Bishop Morris's conversion, drawing strength from the marvellous turnaround of Abby Johnson (CO, April 2011). Miracles do happen.