Bishop Olmsted: Divorced and Remarried Catholics Are Not Allowed Receive Communion

By Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, The Catholic Sun:

Married love “advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God” (#122), says Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of Love in the Family. There is no limit to the spouses’ ability to participate in the infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit (cf. #134). “Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations, they daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving. Each progresses along the path of personal growth and development. On this journey, love rejoices at every step and in every new stage” (#163). On this journey to full maturity in Christ, the Church accompanies married couples and assists them in the lifelong task of formation of conscience which, as the Catechism says (#1784), “guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.”

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted is the bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. He was installed as the fourth bishop of Phoenix on Dec. 20, 2003, and is the spiritual leader of the diocese's 1.1 million Catholics.

Two gifts of God are necessary in this lifelong task of conscience formation: the light of God’s word and the authoritative teaching of the Church (Ibid, #1785). For good reason, then, Pope Francis affirms both of these as the primary foundation for his document. Literally and organically, he puts at the center of his Exhortation both these gifts of God: the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterial teaching of the Church. In chapter four, he reflects on God’s teaching on love from the famous text of 1 Corinthians 13; and in chapter five, the Holy Father affirms the Church’s teaching on fruitfulness in marriage.

To assist married couples in the journey to mature love in Christ, the Church “seeks the grace of conversion for them” (#78), and encourages them to have confidence that forgiveness is always within their reach: “When we have been offended or let down, forgiveness is possible and desirable, but no one can say that it is easy. … We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations, and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude toward others” (#106f).

Throughout the entire Exhortation, and indeed throughout all of his papacy, the Holy Father has gone to great lengths to show that God’s Plan for marriage and family is truly good news, and that it is possible, with God’s grace, to know His plan, to accept it in faith and to live it with joy and ever deepening love.

As a good shepherd, Pope Francis focuses special attention on those who walk on the edge of despair because of personal failures and problems they have suffered in their families, and because of the complex and contradictory situations in which they find themselves now. He calls for deeper and sustained pastoral accompaniment of these suffering families, assuring them that they are welcome in the Church family, and that we are eager to seek ways to integrate them more fully into our local communities. This situation does not, it is important to note, mean that the Catholic persons are excommunicated from the Church. They should be encouraged to pray, attend Mass, and rectify the situation in communication with their pastor, who remains their pastor despite the case of objective sin. Accompaniment is possible and should be the case in our parishes.

This does not, however, include receiving Holy Communion for those who are divorced and remarried. Pope Francis specifically calls those in this situation “to seek the grace of conversion” (#78). Throughout Amoris Laetitia we see a continuity with the Church’s Magisterium especially that of Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI which reaffirm the constant tradition of the Church.

In Familiaris Consortio #84, for example, St. John Paul II taught, “… I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in Her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show Herself a merciful Mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope. However, the Church reaffirms Her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and affected by the Eucharist.” Similarly, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI affirmed this consistent teaching and practice of the Church in Sacramentum Caritatis #29.

With wisdom, the Catechism teaches that (#1785), “we must … examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross … assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Without embracing the Cross of Christ, we cannot have life in Him. Only when we “take up our cross each day” and follow Him can we be His disciples. The Lord gives us the command and also the grace to do this, every day, beginning within the family in which by God’s grace we live.

Human Freedom Is Free With Help From God!

Human Freedom Lies In Our Free Decision To Say “Yes” To God!

By:  Bishop Thomas Olmsted

From:  The Catholic Sun

“Give me liberty or give me death,” Patrick Henry’s famous cry, at our nation’s birth, continues to stir hearts today; the struggle for freedom is no less urgent now, as evidenced in rallies and fortnights throughout our country protesting against the HHS mandates and other threats to religious liberty. This struggle continues because the cause is worthy of sacrifice. One need only think of John the Baptist and Thomas More to see the close link that exists between freedom and the ultimate sacrifice.

What does it mean to be free?

When we use the word freedom, we do not necessarily mean religious freedom specifically, although that is an important kind of freedom since it is the first, the ability to relate without coercion with our Creator. Freedom is at the core of our existence. Without a clear understanding of this reality, efforts to promote religious freedom could be counter-productive, and deeper confusion and even conflict could erupt.

The U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults says this about freedom, “Human freedom is more than the capacity to choose between this and that. It is the God-given power to become who He created us to be and so to share eternal union with Him. This happens when we consistently choose ways that are in harmony with God’s plan… Ultimately, human freedom lies in our free decision to say ‘yes’ to God.”

Freedom comes to us as a gift; Christ makes us free by offering Himself in the sacrifice on the Cross and by sending us the gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul writes (Gal 5:13), “Remember that you have been called to live in freedom — but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh. Out of love, place yourselves at one another’s service.” The gift of freedom requires a response on our part, an ongoing response sustained by both faith and reason, and supported by God’s grace.

Growing in freedom

The gift of freedom introduces a kind of drama in our lives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it this way (#1733-4): “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’… Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.” When we meet people who are holy, when we study the lives of the saints, we see what authentic freedom is like; we see how growth in virtue leads to growth in freedom.

Sadly, our Catholic teaching on freedom is not well understood and is even rejected by many in society today. Licentiousness is falsely touted as freedom, and is energetically promoted by hedonistic forces in popular culture. This leads to the opposite of love. For it tempts people to use others as objects of pleasure, rather than to make a gift of oneself for their good. On the other hand, the virtue of chastity counteracts hedonism and, by daily effort to grow in this virtue, one’s ability to love steadily increases, with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Where love grows so does freedom.

Fierce independence and exaggerated self-sufficiency, so common today, also erode authentic freedom; as does the pursuit of one’s own interests with disregard for the good of others. Initially and for a time, persons may celebrate such actions as freedom but, in fact, they enslave the heart, turn one away from God, and lead to lonely isolation from others. But the virtue of obedience counteracts this spiritual imprisonment. Aided by the mercy of God, we can learn to submit our will to the Lord’s plan for our life and to trust in His loving providence. When that happens, we discover that true freedom is actually rooted in natural inclinations toward what is true and good.

Free with the help of God

In his message for the 2012 World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict said the following about freedom, “Only in relation to God does man come to understand also the meaning of human freedom. It is the task of education to form people in authentic freedom. This is not the absence of constraint or the supremacy of free will; it is not the absolutism of the self. When man believes himself to be absolute, to depend on nothing and no one, to be able to do anything he wants, he ends up contradicting the truth of his own being and forfeiting his freedom.”

The gift of human freedom is like a seed planted by God deep within each person, one that needs to be watered, cultivated and aided by the grace of the Lord. A process of education is required, in which we learn not only what it means to be free but also what false freedom is. We learn, too, what it means to be human and then what steps are needed to grow to maturity in Christ.

While all of us struggle with temptations against love, which are temptations against true freedom, and while we are familiar with weaknesses of will and intellect caused by original sin, the natural inclinations we have within us do not hinder freedom. In fact, they are actually freedom’s source planted within us by God.

 

Just the Facts: Receiving Communion Under both Species

Did You Know?  The Privilege, Not the Right, to
Receive Under Both Species Expired in 2005

 

Father Z writes:  “As I understand it, the 1975 edition of the Missale Romanum gave 14 instances when Communion could be distributed under both kinds.  Since 1975 in some regions – including the USA – experimental privileges, not rights, were granted for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds. These privileges, not rights, expired in 2005.  These privileges, not rights, were not renewed by the Holy See.  Therefore the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) for the 3rd edition of the Missale Roman and the 2011 Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States of America are now to be applied.  However, diocesan bishops can to a certain extent lawfully establish other instances, such as important local feasts, etc., for Communion under both kinds.  This is what Bp. Olmsted intends to do.  He will implement the Church’s law.

.  .  .

The conditions for Communion under both kinds were matters for a test period.  Communion under both kinds is now assumed, by some, to be an absolute right all of the time.  On the other hand, conditions for the use of the Extraordinary Form are not matters of experimentation or a test period.  The provisions of Summorum Pontificum, clarified in Universae Ecclesiae, are not temporary trial runs.  They are actual laws for the whole Latin Church.  Stable groups have the right to make a request and pastors have an obligation personally to respond positively or to find another way to see to their needs.”

 

This comes from the Phoenix Diocese.  Bishop Olmsted has issued a press release and “FAQ.

Why is this news now? Has something recently changed?

Yes, something has changed: there have been some new changes in the “GIRM” (General Instruction on the Roman Missal), which is the “how to” book for the Mass.

Why is Holy Communion under both forms only permitted at certain times and under certain conditions?

One of the Church’s basic duties is to establish norms or guidelines for her liturgical practice. With respect to Communion under the form of wine for the faithful, she limits the practice for a number of reasons:

  1. To protect the Sacred Species from profanation (careless treatment, spillage, swilling, etc.);
  2. The practice is not in any way necessary for salvation — it is a fuller sign of Holy Communion, but not a fuller reality of Christ Himself than what is received under the form of bread alone;
  3. The practice is used to emphasize special feast days and other special moments in the lives of the faithful;
  4. The unity of the practice throughout the world is an act of solidarity in the universal Church — rich and poor countries alike; and
  5. In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion; when both forms of Communion are used frequently, “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.

 

Bishop Morlino Takes the Strongest Stance. 

Bishop Morlino is instructing his priest to re-catechized the faithful.

Please help your people to know and understand the beautiful gift we have in the Eucharist, to know our obligations of preparing for reception of the Sacrament, both in terms of our preparation through the Sacrament of Confession, our observance of the pre-communion fast, our attending to our attire as best we can, and the like.

Please help them to know of Christ’s presence, fully and entirely in the Sacred Host. Our people know well, the aspect of the Mass which is the Sacred banquet, but help them to know the Eucharist at the Memorial of Christ’s loving Sacrifice for them. Help them to understand your role in laying down your own life as the minister of Christ’s Body and Blood, present in the Host.

Here is the official press release.

Here are some of his concerns.

“In practice, the need to avoid obscuring the role of the Priest and the Deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species…(Norms, 24)”

“The Diocesan Bishop is also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been entrusted as its own shepherd, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and that there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament or of the rite’s becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or for some other cause (Roman Missal, 283).”

However, I have been told of, and have personally experienced, the reality that the provision both that the faithful be well instructed and that there be no danger of profanation of the Sacrament, is not being met.

Resources

  • The official press release from the Diocese of Phoenix.  Here
  • Questions and Answers: Norms for Reception of Holy Communion Under Both FormsDiocese of Phoenix
  • Father Z’s commentary herehere and here (I like this one the best)

So what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with the bishops?  Did this surprise you? Neither comments below. Thank you!

Bishop Olmsted: A Bishop With A Backbone!

“There Cannot Be A Tie In This Debate”

By Susan Brinkman, OCDS

Women of Grace- Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix is planning to strip a local medical center of its Catholic status tomorrow if it does not meet his demands to guarantee compliance with Church teachings.

The Arizona Republic is reporting that Bishop Olmsted sent a letter on Nov. 22 to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, the same hospital where Sister Margaret McBride gave approval for an abortion to be performed on a woman allegedly suffering from pulmonary hypertension last year. In the letter, the bishop is demanding that the hospital comply with Catholic health-care rules, educate its medical staff on those rules, and acknowledge what is the correct Church position on the abortion that took place. If the hospital’s parent company, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), does not agree to these demands by tomorrow, he will strip the facility of its Catholic status.

“There cannot be a tie in this debate,” Olmsted wrote. “Until this point in time, you have not acknowledged my authority to settle this question…”

“Your actions communicate to me that you do not respect my authority to authentically teach and interpret moral law in this diocese,” he writes. (Emphasis added.)

If our bishops had shown such firm resolve dealing with predator priests who raped adolescent boys, there is no telling what better repair Holy Church would be in these days. God grant us more bishops like Olmstead.

Would you let Courageous Priest know if you agree with Bishop’s Olmsted’s ultimatum to St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Another Priest Automatically Excommunicated Despite Bishop Olmsted’s Efforts

Fr. Vernon Meyer Formally Rejects the Catholic Church
and Becomes a United Church of Christ Minister

By John Quinn

Phoenix, AZ, September 20, 2010 (Courageous Priest) –

Fr. Vernon Meyer

Fr. Vernon Meyer,  automatically excommunicated himself when he rejected the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning women ordination.  Meyer participated in the “ordination” of Elaine Groppenbacher in Tempe, AZ last month.  For Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, this is the fifth priestly excommunication for serious refusal of faithful obedience to the Catholic Church, according to The Arizona Republic.

Referring to Meyer, Bishop Olmsted states: “Actions such as these are extremely serious and carry with them profoundly harmful consequences for the salvation of the souls participating in this attempted ordination. To feign the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders results in the penalty of excommunication. This penalty applies both to the person attempting the ordination and the person attempting to be ordained.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1577: “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”

This is not the first disagreement between Fr. Meyer and Catholic Doctrine.  In 2004 Fr. Meyer was under obedience to Bishop Olmsted to recant a joint declaration Meyer signed which supported “full acceptance” of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals in churches.

Fr. Meyer apparently told The Arizona Republic that he signed the declaration “after making sure it did not conflict with Catholic positions.”  This statement contradicts the actual declaration, which states: “Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin.”  Two sentences later, the declaration proclaims that all aspects of the homosexual lifestyle should have “full acceptance and inclusion.”

Despite the pastoral efforts of Bishop Olmsted, Fr. Meyer is now a United Church of Christ minister and is the Director of the Arizona Center for Theological Studies, which he founded.  Fletch Wideman, local president of the pro-homosexual group P-FLAG reports “the United Church of Christ, has taken a strong pro-gay stand.”  This comment would be supported by high percentage of United Church of Christ clergy signing the petition.

The Arizona Center for Theological Studies reportedly values “a deep respect and appreciation for the various interpretative traditions within Christianity.” And has courses on Ecumenical Methods of Theology and studies the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Islamic religions among other diverse topics.

The center has two sponsors.  One is John Chuchman, who authored the book “I Love My Church, BUT, OH MY GOD!”   In the book, Chuchman states why he is “so excited about Organizations like Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful,” organizations known to be active in their support of abortion, homosexual rights, contraception and women’s “ordination.”

Bishop Olmsted

Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Bishop Olmsted has been under attack for requesting his clergy and religious to remain faithful to the vows of obedience they took when they dedicated their lives to serving the Catholic Church.   Many people are calling Bishop Olmsted intolerant and unpastoral.   This is not true.  He has exhausted every resource to bring his sheep back to the flock.  How truly sad it is that some of his priests choose tolerance as their supreme pillar and foundation of truth.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 “And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse: erring, and driving into error.”

Bishop Olmstead – Woman’s Ordination is a Grave Offense

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted Letter Says Only a
Baptized Man Can Be Validly Ordained

Here is his letter posted in the Catholic Sun.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As reported in the news this week, a schismatic group in Tempe known as the Ecumenical Catholic Communion attempted to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon a woman. It was also reported in the news that Fr. Vernon Meyer, a priest of our diocese, participated in the attempted ordination.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted

Actions such as these are extremely serious and carry with them profoundly harmful consequences for the salvation of the souls participating in this attempted ordination. To feign the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders results in the penalty of excommunication. This penalty applies both to the person attempting the ordination and the person attempting to be ordained.

The attempted ordination of a woman is a grave offense against a sacrament and the structure of the Church. As it states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1577: “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”

The Church’s position on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, of course, does not mean that women are of any less value or dignity than men. We are all called to Christian service, and women have always played an instrumental role in the life and holiness of the Church. Women serve in various levels of Church leadership and hold nearly half of diocesan administrative and professional positions, including chancellor and school superintendent in our own diocese. Women serve as presidents of Catholic colleges and universities in our country, and nearly 80 percent of lay parish ministers are women.

However, it is of paramount importance to recognize that the Catholic Church teaches that only a baptized man can be validly ordained to the ministerial priesthood. The Catholic priesthood, today as in ages past, mirrors the actions of Christ, who lived as a celibate male and chose to ordain only men.

You or your parishioners may also have seen it reported in the news that the Holy See allegedly considers the attempted ordination of women to be on par with the sexual abuse of minors. This is simply not true. This portrayal arose following the release of a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the public July 15, 2010, which concerns updates to norms related to grave crimes that were outlined in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. It expands the number of offenses to be referred to the Holy See and deals with such issues as sexual abuse of a minor, pornography, violations of the seal of the confession, and the attempted ordination of women.

Please pray for all involved in this divisive, scandalous act against the Catholic Church.

Grace and wisdom in the risen Christ,

+Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix

Bishop Olmsted: “Gay Marriage” Is Not In Accordance With God’s Plan!

What’s At Stake is Our Cultural Sanity and Viability!

Bishop Thomas Olmsted-Living in an age of relativism and one marked by sound-bite triviality rather than thoughtful reasoning, such labeling of opposing opinions as “hang ups” may come across as persuasive to some. But if looked at logically, and especially if seen from the perspective of God’s plan for marriage revealed in the first chapters of the Bible (as well as from the perspective of natural law), it comes off as absurd and only nominally rational.

What is at stake here is cultural sanity and viability. Defending the clear nature and purpose of marriage is not discrimination against homosexual persons. Why did God create both men and women, not just one sex? Is it merely accidental that one is born either a woman or a man? Is femininity or masculinity of little import? Does it not matter if a child grows up with no mother but two fathers? Does the pandemic of cultural ills born of father-less-ness in so many of our homes teach us nothing? Is it really all that difficult to fathom that God had a plan for marriage, which He wove into the very fabric of human nature? This plan is so deeply embedded in our human nature that every culture in history has recognized it and enshrined and protected it in law and custom. Marriage being exclusively between a man and a woman was not an idea created by these cultures but, rather, a truth received by them as something handed down from a higher authority.

Is ours an enlightened age that is wiser than previous ones? Are activist judges helping us finally to rise up and overthrow the “hang ups” of billions of people who have gone before us and to free us from the shackles of religion? Or is another explanation not possible: that these activist judges are products of the ideology of the sexual revolution who are now imposing their ideology upon our society?

Courage in taking up the Cross

We need to again recall the key distinction, when considering homosexuality, between the homosexual inclination on the one hand and homosexual acts on the other. Whoever engages in homosexual acts commits serious sin, as both the Old Testament and New Testament teach (Cf. Genesis 19:1-29, Romans 1:18-32, I Timothy 1:10) and as Christian Tradition has consistently affirmed (Cf. Catechism, #2357). However, persons with homosexual inclinations but who do not engage in homosexual acts are not guilty of sin at all. No more or less than other persons, Christ calls them to holiness of life, inviting them as He invites us all to take up our cross each day and follow after Him. All who follow Christ are given the grace to live the virtue of chastity; and they can joyfully do so with a clean heart.

Love and truth go hand-in-hand. Everyone who experiences true love knows this — we want those we love to know the truth. As Catholics, we want to love people authentically and not in a mediocre way that would ignore dangers in a person’s life out of a shallow concern for political correctness. We need never worry that speaking the truth clearly and charitably is a violation of love.

Both Church teaching and the study of reality, the natural law, show that homosexuality is an objective disorder — that is, it does not correspond to the God-given reality of the sexually differentiated human being. Therefore, to condone the homosexual lifestyle is never a move in favor of a person’s true happiness. Moreover, to change the legal and societal definition of the fundamental institution of marriage in order to suit an adult sexual preference is a selfish and irresponsible corruption of the truth. The truth is that the reason why the state cannot redefine marriage is because it never defined it in the first place; it is a truth received, not created. It is God who defined marriage. For the state to redefine marriage will certainly have a negative impact on love, especially for children, who suffer most when marriage is weakened.

Upholding the truth about marriage

We have great need to rediscover the good news of God’s plan for marriage; and we need to resist in the public square all efforts to label this plan as a “hang up” of the past. Labeling homosexual “marriage” as “a right” is not an enlightened idea of the 21st century. It is a novel form of a resurrected falsehood from more than 2,000 years ago. It will not stand the test of time, just as it cannot withstand popular opinion now.

In every state in our nation where this issue has been put to a vote of the people (31 of the 50), traditional marriage has won. It is only some activist judges, exercising raw judicial power over and against the will of the people, who have pushed their agenda of so-called “homosexual marriage” on the people.

The Lord calls us to love our enemies and to pray for their conversion. Let us do that. He calls us to affirm the human dignity of every human person, including those who struggle with homosexual tendencies. We gladly do that. He also gives us the grace and responsibility to stand up for the truth in the public square, especially the truth about the fundamental institution of society, marriage. Let us do this with courage and compassion, while speaking the truth in love. Let us keep in mind the words of our Savior: Do not be afraid; I am with you always.

Bishop Olmsted: Failure To Call Evil By Its Name Leads To More Evil Acts.

“To Remain Silent Is Not An Act of Charity”

LifeSiteNews-Those who refuse to take Catholic pro-abort politicians to task for their words and actions not only fail the standards of fraternal charity, but embolden such individuals to commit even greater acts of evil against human life and dignity, according to Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix.

The remarks appeared in a short exposition of the nature of scandal in a column for the Catholic Sun of Phoenix last month. In the article Olmsted, one of the strongest defenders of the unborn among U.S. Catholic hierarchy, explained the need to correct public figures who profess to reconcile their Catholic faith and pro-abortion agenda, as well as other individuals who give public scandal.

“A failure to call evil by its name inevitably leads to more evil acts in the future,” wrote Olmsted. “Evil acts, in themselves, are the greatest source of scandal. When the perpetrators are not called to account, then they are emboldened to do even worse deeds.”

The prelate quoted Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, who noted that, “it is particularly insidious that our society which is so profoundly confused about the most basic goods also believes that scandal is a thing of the past.”

The bishop pointed out the greater impact of scandal from public figures, who “fulfill an office of greater authority, enjoy more popularity or prestige, or [are] in a position to exercise political, economic or spiritual power or to make decisions that impact a large number of people.” “The greater their influence the greater their ability to inspire what is right and good but also the greater their ability to give scandal,” he said.

Thus when public officials “claim to be Catholic” but fail to promote the dignity of the human person, true marriage, and religious freedom, said the bishop, they give “grave scandal” – especially when justifying their stance “by claiming they cannot ‘impose their religious views on others.'”

“Their words and actions allow such fundamental evils as abortion and embryonic stem cell research to continue to kill thousands of the littlest and most innocent members of the human family,” wrote Olmsted. “Their false argumentation also gives the mistaken impression that abortion is just a matter of religious opinion,” whereas life is “a basic human right inscribed in every human heart.”

“Since some scandals are more grievous than others, remaining silent about the scandal given by those with greater influence in the Church or society has far more toxic effects than silence about other scandals.”

Olmsted emphasized that “to remain silent about scandalous activity is not an act of charity; for charity is inauthentic if it is not linked with truth.”

“Fraternal correction is not an act of presumed superiority,” he wrote. “It is an act of fraternal love that desires our brother to see and admit his mistake, to repent and find new life in the rich mercy of God. It is also an act of love for all those who might otherwise be led astray if the scandalous behavior were not publicly confronted.”

The bishop quoted the “quite emphatic” words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: “Scandals inevitably arise, but woe to him through whom they come. He would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than giving scandal to one of these little ones. Be on your guard. If your brother does wrong, correct him.'”

Olmsted also pointed out the grievous effect on the laity that arises from misconduct on the part of Catholic clergy, which he said causes “great harm within the Church and society.”

“Sadly, the sexual abuse of children and youth by a small percentage of the clergy has reminded everyone of the devastating results of such scandalous behavior, and the need to decisively address this scandal,” he wrote.

By:  Kathleen Gilbert