….When St. John Paul appointed Olmsted to Phoenix in 2003, his predecessor, Bishop Thomas O’Brien, was facing charges for fleeing the scene of a fatal car accident and had resigned days after that incident.
Earlier in that year, O’Brien signed an agreement with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office where he admitted to protecting priests accused of sexual indiscretions with children.
In his installation homily, Olmsted said that Christ’s transformative love “impels us to face the scandal of child abuse squarely and to combat it with honesty and determination.”
When he arrived, he chose not to move into the bishop’s house and to let the former bishop stay there. He instead took a room at the rectory at Ss. Simon and Jude, the diocesan cathedral, which allowed him to live with his brother priests.
He also immediately began making personal visits each week to all 90-plus parishes, reassuring pastors and their staffs, as well as the laity, that everything in the Phoenix Diocese would rise above recent scandals. He wanted to get to know those he would serve and work with.
Olmsted also brought to the diocese a sense of global connection to affairs of the Catholic Church to help the faithful understand why what happens in Phoenix matters beyond its borders.
“He has helped us understand we are part of something much bigger. You’ll notice how often he links what he’s saying to the Holy Father. He has a deep understanding of our relationship and his to the Holy Father,” Adamson told The Catholic Sun, the diocesan news outlet.
During his tenure, Olmsted has delivered several apostolic exhortations, including “Complete My Joy,” to husbands, wife, mothers and fathers; “Veneremur Cernui — Down in Adoration Falling,” to priests, deacons, religious and the lay faithful of the diocese about the Eucharist; and “Into the Breach,” to Catholic men….
In late 2009, he stood alone under the weight and in the glare of public scrutiny, when he took the reins of a major issue.
That November, an abortion was performed at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix on a woman who was 11 weeks pregnant and suffering from pulmonary hypertension. The procedure took place after an 11-member ethics committee authorized it.
“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in its statement.
The ethics panel included Mercy Sister Margaret McBride.
The bishop advised that McBride should be excommunicated, citing canon law which states those who participate in an abortion incur an automatic excommunication. He was supported in his decision by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.
The bishop later declared St. Joseph Hospital was no longer Catholic, though he returned the Eucharist to the hospital chapel in 2020.
Early in his tenure as bishop of Phoenix, he joined the faithful in sidewalk prayer outside an abortion clinic and took part regularly in vigils for preserving life from the moment of conception. He also spoke out against the death penalty.
Adamson said prayer was at the heart of the bishop’s life, which he spoke about during the news conference at St. Joseph’s Hospital when he was asked to respond to criticism of his decision….
“My identity comes from Christ,” he said, adding that if he is “unfaithful to that, then whether I am looked at one way or another, if I’m given praise or given ridicule — it doesn’t matter….”
The above comes from an August 14 story in Crux.