The Bishop and the Millstone: Thomas Olmsted's Anti-Gay Hypocrisy and His Betrayal of Hispanic Children.

Phoenix New Times
November 10, 2008

Know what Jesus had to say about homosexuality? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. It apparently was of no concern to him. Of course, he was always hanging out with this group of 12 righteous dudes, and he never married, according to scripture. Not that I mean to imply anything. Just that Jesus apparently preferred the company of men. At least most of the time.

But when it came to the subjects of children and hypocrites, he had a lot to say. Of children, in Mark 9:42, Jesus told his disciples,

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."

On the subject of hypocrites, lets just say there was no love lost between the Man from Galilee and these loathsome creatures, whom he compared to "whited sepulchers...full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27).

This Bible school teachin' came back to me as I watched the above video of Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted encouraging his parishioners to vote for Prop 102, Arizona's constitutional gay marriage ban, which indeed passed this November 4, 55.37 to 44.63 percent.

Why folks give a fig whether or not two individuals of the same sex want to form a civil union of some sort is beyond me. Even if you're a complete, raging homophobe, it doesn't hurt you a bit if Dave and Gary next door wear wedding rings and have boring sex lives just like every other married couple. Sure, sure, if you're Catholic or Mormon or whatever, your religion objects to such unions, but they're not going to be performing them any time soon in your temples or churches, so what's the worry?

Still, here is Bishop Olmsted, in a video that was played in every local Catholic church during masses in September, telling folks that, "Catholic teaching touches on all aspects of life," providing "inspiration and guidance" at home, work, school, and even the voting booth.

Olmsted referred to the "unjust scenarios" that occurred in California when gays were allowed to marry after a state Supreme Court ruling in May. Olmsted again referred to this ruling as an "injustice," a mighty powerful word coming from a prelate whose Church for so long turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children taking place at the hands of some of its priests. In any case, California's own anti-gay-marriage Prop 8 has made such concerns about same-sex wedded bliss in the Golden State unnecessary for now.

In urging Catholics to vote yes on Prop 102, Olmsted invoked the sanctity of the family, quoting Pope Benedict as saying, "Whoever, even unknowingly circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community -- national and international."

It's Olmsted's contention that gays getting hitched weakens the institution of marriage, and thus the traditional familial unit. Now, I think that's a colossal load of horse hooey, but even if you buy Olmsted's premise that gay marriage is for some reason going to upset your heterosexual apple cart, and that he and the Catholic church are most concerned with the preservation of families, then why is this Bishop so quiet when it comes to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's roundups of undocumented residents?

As I discussed in a previous Bird column, Olmsted has chickened out when it comes to sticking up for the Catholic undocumented in his flock, avoiding direct criticism of local officials who are terrorizing so many of his parishioners, or federal ICE officials in Arizona such as Matthew Allen, who enable the hunting of Hispanics, the breakup of families, and the imprisonment and deportation of human beings at an alarming rate. A recent ICE press release announced that in the last year the agency has deported almost 73,000 immigrants from Arizona alone.

So where's Bishop Olmsted decrying this violence against his flock? Maybe he's been too busy blasting gay marriage to pay much heed to the far more egregious "injustice" in his backyard.

True, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on ICE to end its work site raids nationally, and Olmsted is a Bishop, but that hardly seems enough considering the viciousness of the attacks on Hispanics in this state. Olmsted has also signed pastoral letters and penned notes to newspaper editors, but he has never gone as far as to call on local and federal authorities to cease their sweeps and raids. Considering that Arizona is ground zero in our ongoing immigration strife, Olmsted's lack of outrage is damning, his hypocrisy obvious.

Does Olmsted care about the children who no longer have mothers or fathers because of these raids and sweeps? If so, why does he not vigorously demand that the deportations end, and that Arpaio and other law enforcement agencies stop their systematic attacks on Hispanic families?

Perhaps Olmsted should recall the stuff his savior had to say about hypocrites and those who "offend these little ones." That Biblical millstone sounds awfully heavy. And it's straight out of the good book Olmsted's preaching from, after all.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.