New Phoenix Bishop Orders Priests to Disassociate from Gay Document
Life Site News [Phoenix AZ]
Downloaded April 29, 2003
PHOENIX, April 28, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - BishopThomas J. Olmsted, the newly appointed leader of the Phoenix Catholic diocese, has ordered nine priests and one religious brother to remove their names from a document written and promulgated by an activist organization for homosexual clergy, "No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice." The "Phoenix Declaration" states, "Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We affirm that GLBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God."
The bishop has ordered the priests and brother to remove their names "under obedience" to him. All Catholic diocesan priests make a public promise, or vow, of obedience to the bishop as a condition of their ordination. The bishop, who is writing a series of articles on homosexuality for the diocesan newspaper, said that he invited the priests to talk with him privately "about this serious pastoral matter". No sanctions were spelled out in the letter against any priest who refuses to comply but a diocesan bishop has a number of possible options in disciplining priests, up to and including suspension, which means a priest may not celebrate Mass, preach or hear confessions.
Bishop Olmsted replaces the recently disgraced bishop Thomas J. O'Brien who stepped down when convicted of killing a man in a hit-and-run car accident. The Phoenix archdiocese has been plagued with scandals involving priests abusing young men. Bishop O'Brien had been under a cloud after he received immunity from prosecution in cases where he had been accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by the priests of his diocese. Both O'Brien and the interim leader, Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan knew of the document and the priests' participation but neither of them chose to act.
428gaystatement28.htmliocesan clergy are under a public promise of obedience to the bishop as a condition
No Longer Silent Phoenix Declaration:
No Longer Silent Home page | mission statement | "a place at the table" | links
(Note: We're accepting signatures for this declaration via e-mail. Please read it, and then see the instructions at the end of the declaration.) Signers as of 31 March 2004
No Longer Silent Phoenix Declaration (en espanol)
As Christian clergy we believe it is time to share our perspective concerning Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered (GLBT) persons. We celebrate the end of the debate. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We affirm that GLBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.
We stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of GLBT persons in our churches and in our world. GLBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. Political and religious rhetoric has monopolized the public perception of the stance of Christian persons on this issue. This stance continues to cripple the spirit of innocent people. The Christian faith compels us to be part of the healing for the souls wounded by this tragic, violent, and destructive hatred. Therefore:
We stand with the countless Christian ministers, scholars, and laity who, from prayerful study of the scriptures and Christian tradition, find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. The essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives in relationship with God with compassion toward humanity.
We gratefully affirm our GLBT brothers and sisters, already a part of the church, who have been born, baptized, confirmed - many serving as leaders -- and apologize for their ill-treatment by many church leaders. We joyfully welcome GLBT persons, as we welcome all people, into our communities of faith.
We recognize GLBT persons have painfully suffered long enough from social inequality, from religious rhetoric and political leaders. We are tired of appalling, hurting, and violent actions toward GLBT persons. This violence must stop. Let us clear the air and move ahead to begin the healing process for the wounded souls who are victims of this tragic and violent abuse.
We celebrate the courage of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity. The determination of these people, especially GLBT persons, to meet hatred with love and to answer violence with compassion is an inspiration to us all, and prophetic witness of God's activity in our world.
And so we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation. All laws must protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons. We will continue to work for and promote the dignity of GLBT persons and their inclusion in our socio-political, cultural and economic life.
If you are a clergy person in Arizona, and would like to add your signature to this declaration, please send an e-mail message to email@example.com with your name, your organizational affiliation (and your role within that organization), and city. For example, "Pat McGillicuddy, Pastor, Church of What's Happening Now, Phoenix." The list of signatures will be updated as time permits.
Signers as of 31 March 2004
Note: The Declaration is primarily the statement of clergy members in Arizona, but we are also glad to hear from others who support our statement, such as lay persons, groups, and even those outside of Arizona.
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