Pope removes outspoken bishop

Pope Benedict XVI has sacked an outspoken Australian bishop who had called on the Church to consider ordaining women and married men.

The Vatican said yesterday that the Pope had "removed from pastoral care" Bishop William Morris of the Toowoomba diocese, west of Brisbane.

That move was strong by the usual standards of the Vatican, which normally stops short of saying outright that it has ousted a church leader. More often, it asks wayward leaders to resign and then announces the Pope has accepted their resignations.

Australian media report that Dr Morris recently published an open letter saying he was being removed for a 2006 message to the faithful in which he argued that a shortage of priests should prompt the Church to consider ordaining women and married men.

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