An Australian judge and a canon lawyer, have both said in independent reports, that Pope Benedict broke canon law and natural justice when he sacked Mgr Bill Morris from his post as Bishop of Toowomba last May.
The Queensland Supreme Court judge WJ Carter found that Bishop Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice and his treatment was 'offensive' to the requirements of both civil and canon law.
He wrote about one unsigned Vatican letter to the bishop: “One could not imagine a more striking case of a denial of natural justice”. His conclusion was endorsed by a leading Australian canon lawyer, Father Ian Waters, of Melbourne, whose report was made public last week.
Fr Waters found that Pope Benedict had breached canon law and exceeded his authority in removing Bishop Morris without finding him guilty of apostasy, heresy or schism and without following the judicial procedures canon law requires.
Bishop Morris was sacked by the Pope after refusing to resign when requested to do so by three cardinals, the heads of important Vatican departments, who considered that his leadership was 'defective'.
He never saw any of the charges against him and never had a chance to defend himself.
Both reports were commissioned by Bishop Morris’s supporters in Toowoomba.
The Vatican Press Office has not issued an official comment yet.
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