The Vatican confirmed in a statement Monday that Morris had been "removed from pastoral care," an unusually strong move by Vatican standards. Generally, church leaders who are being ousted are asked to resign, with the Vatican later announcing the pope has accepted their resignations.
Morris said he was removed because of a letter he wrote to his parish in 2006 in which he suggested that the church could help solve the problem of priest shortages by considering ordaining women and married men.
Benedict, as did his just-beatified predecessor, John Paul II, has staunchly upheld Vatican teaching that only celibate men can be ordained in the Roman Catholic church, although married men in the Latin rite church loyal to the pontiff can become priests.
On Tuesday, Morris said he hadn't meant to advocate the idea that women and married men should be priests, but simply wanted the church to keep an open mind on the matter. In an open letter to his parish this weekend, Morris said a handful of people unhappy with his leadership used his 2006 comments as a basis for complaint to the Vatican, which then launched an investigation.
Although not angry over his removal, Morris said he was "sad" the Vatican had not given him or his parishioners a voice in the matter.
"There's a creeping centralism in the church at the moment that everything is going to centralization and there's a creeping authoritarianism
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