Liberal bishop 'forced' to quit

The Pope has accepted what has been called the forced resignation of a Queensland bishop condemned for his liberal views.

A statement on the Catholic Church's website said Pope Benedict XVI had received and accepted the resignation of William Morris as the bishop of the Toowoomba diocese.

He will remain in the diocese as the Emeritus Bishop of Toowoomba.

Bishop Morris and his supporters say he has been forced into early retirement over a letter to his parish in 2006 which discussed whether the shortage of priests could be supplemented by the ordination of women and ministers from other churches.

Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane Brian Finnigan has been appointed to administer the Toowoomba diocese while a permanent replacement is found.

Bishop Finnigan yesterday praised his predecessor's handling of the sexual abuse of 13 young girls at the hand of a former Catholic primary school teacher in the Toowoomba diocese during 2007 and 2008.

"The scourge of sexual abuse has confronted the diocese," Bishop Finnigan said.

"The good work that Bishop Morris has done to address the needs of the victims will continue into the future."

The former teacher, 61, last year admitted the abuse.

Bishop Morris immediately accepted legal liability for the abuse and the church entered into mediation with the victims.

Father Peter Dorfield, the vicar general of the Toowoomba diocese, says Bishop Morris' forced resignation had nothing to do with the sexual abuse cases.

- AAP

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