New bishop to unify Diocese of Phoenix


God’s love "forces us to face the scandal of child abuse squarely and to combat it with honesty and determination," said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in his homily during his installation as the fourth Catholic bishop of Phoenix Dec. 20.

"No disgrace that we suffer, no sorrow or humiliation that we endure, nothing can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus,” he told a crowd of more than 1,200 people at SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral, according to a report by the Arizona Republic.

"All we need to do is to open the door of our heart to Christ. He does the rest. He comes with his mercy. He reconciles us with the father and with one another. He restores our dignity and gives us fresh hope," he was quoted as saying.

Bishop Olmsted served the Diocese of Wichita before being appointed to the Diocese of Pheonix Nov. 25. He succeeds Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, who resigned in June after he was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal auto accident.

Among those attending the installation were Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles.

"Bishop Olmsted will be a unifying grace for this diocese," Cardinal Mahony told the Arizona Republic.

In his homily, Bishop Olmsted also said God “gives us the grace to reach out in solidarity and service of others, to serve the most vulnerable and forgotten, to strengthen the weak in faith and the weak in mind or body, and to bring glad tidings to the poor."

The newspaper reported that outside the cathedral, people gathered with signs reading, "We love orthodox bishops", "Welcome Bishop Olmsted, now clean house" and "The chancery leadership is full of dissidents."

The Arizona Republic also reported that several members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests were among the invited guests. Paul Pfaffenberger, who leads the local chapter, said afterward that he found Olmsted's words "very encouraging."

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