New bishop for Phoenix

New bishop for Phoenix

Pope John Paul has appointed Bishop Thomas James Olmsted of Wichita, Kansas, as the new bishop of Phoenix. He becomes the successor of Bishop O’Brien, who resigned after being charged in a hit-and-run accident. Olmsted only recently became bishop of Wichita, in 2001, and before that was coadjutor there since 1999.

I don’t know much about him, but I found some articles online that may help in understanding. In a September, 2002, National Catholic Register article on the issue of homosexuals in the seminary, he was quoted.

Committee member Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Wichita, Kan., said that even without directly asking candidates about homosexuality, seminary rectors and bishops can discern through personal references, psychological testing and observation of moral character whether a sexual problem would present an obstacle to the ordained ministry.

“If they’re sexually active we would not accept them. I think a person could be so caught up in the homosexual lifestyle where it would just overcome them, in which case they would not be a good candidate,” he said. “Because I would consider homosexuality to be a disorder, if there is a serious homosexual problem, it would show itself in various ways. I would see it as not being fully mature.”

That sounds pretty good.

As for his handling of the Scandal, I haven’t heard anything earth-shattering. He instituted a policy in his diocese for handling allegations, although it might have some flaws.

While the Wichita diocesan policy stipulates that all incidents or allegations be reported to the bishop within 24 hours, it only requires notification of civil authorities when mandated by state law. That generally involves anyone responsible for the care of children, such as teachers, principals, school officials and child care workers. ... The Wichita policy also calls for the formation of a three-member “response team” when a complaint is made. That team would include a priest close to the family of the victim, a nun or lay woman who has professional training or experience as a counselor, and a Catholic psychologist or other professional with experience in dealing with child abuse issues.

On the first point, I think all accusations should be reported. Let the police do their criminal investigation, while the diocese does a parallel one. On the second point, the response team, I think that’s a good idea. Victims’ groups don’t like it because they think the psychologist should be independent of the Church and the team should include a victim. I think that’s a bad idea because it puts someone pre-disposed to finding a problem on the team.

So does anyone have any impressions of their own of Bishop Olmsted?