Bishop Olmsted brings changes to Pheonix


Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has been making waves in the Diocese of Pheonix since his recent succession to Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien. The new bishop has come on strong on a number of issues – namely right-to life issues – and has drawn both support and criticism from some of the faithful, reported the Arizona Republic yesterday.

Some liberal Catholics fear a conservative shift in the diocese, said the newspaper.

In his first month in Pheonix, Bishop Olmsted’s commitment to battle abortion was evident. He participated in a series of prayer meetings and led the largest protest at Planned Parenthood in years on Good Friday this year.

The bishop also signed an interfaith statement calling for a reformed immigration policy. He met with several survivors of sexual abuse and plans to replace the local Church hierarchy.

He also reinstated the Latin Mass and suspended a priest last week after he heard allegations that the priest violated the rules of celebrating the mass by allowing a non-Catholic clergyman to take part.

The Arizona-Republic also reported that a letter surfaced last week in which he called for nine priests to remove their signatures from a document affirming gay rights.

In an e-mail, Bishop Olsmted told the Arizona Republic that his vision of the diocese is rooted in Pope John Paul II's statement, "Ecclesia in America."

While some have criticized the bishop for being autocratic and potentially less collegial others believe the diocese has been blessed with a sincere and holy man.

However, critics add the bishop should take more action in sexual-abuse lawsuits, Hispanic ministry and ecumenical affairs.

Bishop Olmsted succeeded Bishop O'Brien, who came under fire during a sex-abuse scandal and after a hit-and-run accident last summer.

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