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Letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops to Bishop Brian Finnigan and the people of Toowoomba Diocese

Bishop Brian Finnigan
Apostolic Administrator
Diocese of Toowoomba

It is his task to guard and promote the communion of the Church and the integrity of the Church’s faith. We reaffirm our faith in this mission which the Successor of Peter has received from Christ himself, and we gratefully acknowledge Pope Benedict’s faithfulness to the Petrine ministry, even when it involves very difficult decisions. We commit ourselves anew to teaching faithfully what Christ taught as the Church has handed it down.

Discussion of the process and the decision which it produced will continue during our Ad Limina visit to Rome later this year. There we will have the opportunity to share with the Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia the fruits of our discussion and to share our questions and concerns with an eye to the future. We will also have the opportunity to pray at the Tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to whose intercession we will entrust our own ministry, the Diocese of Toowoomba and the Church in Australia.

We appreciate that Bishop Morris’ human qualities were never in question; nor is there any doubt about the contribution he has made to the life of the Church in Toowoomba and beyond. The Pope’s decision was not a denial of the personal and pastoral gifts that Bishop Morris has brought to the episcopal ministry. Rather, it was judged that there were problems of doctrine and discipline, and we regret that these could not be resolved. We are hopeful that Bishop Morris will continue to serve the Church in other ways in the years ahead.

Our prayers are very much with you as Apostolic Administrator, with Bishop Morris and with the priests, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Toowoomba at this difficult time. We especially encourage the priests to reassure their people and to strengthen them in faith. The Diocese of Toowoomba has a great history of faith, and that faith has never failed in the face of many hardships. It will surely not fail now as the Diocese looks to the future.

We express our support for you personally as you assume the challenging task of Apostolic Administrator, and we are confident that you will help to bring peace and unity to the Diocese. May the prayers of Mary of the Southern Cross and of St Mary MacKillop guide us all safely on the journey that lies before us.

Yours fraternally in Christ,

Archbishop Philip Wilson
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

From the Shrine of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop
North Sydney,

May 12, 2011

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