Oct 16, 2006

Bishop Olmsted's "Catholics in the Public Square"

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted (no "a" in there), pictured above, has written Catholics in the Public Square, a new pamphlet (click on this post's title) about Catholics' civic duties.

It would be great if all Catholics could read the following, and then heed it:

Are all political and social issues equal when it comes to choosing a political candidate?

Absolutely not! The Catholic Church is actively engaged in a wide variety of important public policy issues including immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, to name just a few. On each of these issues we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.

As Pope John Paul II has written, " Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination ." (Christifideles Laici, 38)


By the way, the Diocese of Phoenix's Website has some interesting features, and it is at: http://www.diocesephoenix.org/


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wonder if Olmsted really believes what he says?

He talks about innocent human life. Yet he belongs to an organization, the USCCB, that actively opposes capital punishment (which is designed to punish the guilty and protect the innocent) -- and, quite likely, opposes it as well.

Opposition to capital punishment directly contradicts centuries of teaching through Scripture and Tradition!

When the bishops are willing to confront their own inconsistency about innocent human life, then I'll take what they say seriously. Until then, I'd rather get stock tips from Mike Tyson.

Tyson would have more credibility.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It appears your beef is with the USCCB and not specifically Bishop Olmstead - unless you somehow think he makes policy. He is one "good guys" and, IMHO, you unnecessarily tar him just to bash the USCCB. The conference invites the bashing through their actions, Bishop Olmstead does not.

I for one hope the bishop is sent to LA in 2011, if not sooner.

Paul in Long Beach

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Paul in Long Beach, do you have specific evidence that Olmsted differs from McCarrick concerning capital punishment for murder?

McCarrick is the D.C. archbishop who announced the USCCB's campaign against capital punishment -- and right at the height of the Terri Schiavo tragedy, too.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't have specific evidence handy re: Bishop Olmstead's position on capital punishment and I've not yet read the pamphlet. It appears you are taking this section:

Can Catholics honestly disagree in matters of politics, social or cultural issues?

Conversely, however, there are other issues that are intrinsically evil and can never legitimately be supported. For example, Catholics may never legitimately promote or vote for any law that attacks innocent human life.

and jumping to capital punishment when I'm sure the Bishop was referring to abortion and stem cell research. He addresses it here:

Is it mandatory for Catholics to follow what the Pope or bishops say on political issues?

Because they are the leaders of the Church, it is always important to respect statements from the Church's hierarchy. It is the role of the Pope and the bishops to teach clearly on matters of faith and morals, including those touching on political issues.

There are some matters, however, on which Catholics may disagree with the Church's hierarchy. In some cases, for example, a Catholic may agree with the teaching of the Church, but come to a different prudential judgment about its application.

Examples of these issues might include an instance where someone agrees with the Church's teaching on “just war” or “capital punishment,” but reaches a different conclusion as to whether the facts of the situation constitute a “just war” or the “rare” circumstances where capital punishment may be used under Church teaching.

It should be emphasized, however, that despite these examples, there are other issues, such as abortion or euthanasia, that are always wrong and do not allow for the correct use of prudential judgment to justify them. It would never be proper for Catholics to be on the opposite side of these issues.

You may be right in that in may contradict traditional (small "t") Catholic teaching, but I don't believeit contradicts Tradition (large T=Deposit of Faith). He is clearly following on JP II's view that capital punishment is a prudential decision.

Regardless, to call into question ALL of his views based upon one issue is, respectfully, somewhat disingenuous.

Paul in Long Beach

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Paul, we obviously disagree about the Church's view of capital punishment. I don't want to turn this thread into a long debate on the subject so if you're interested in my opinions, please contact me offline at joedhipp@yahoo.com.

As far as Olmsted himself is concerned, I frankly have no trust in any bishop anymore. That might not be fair to Olmsted, I admit. Nevertheless, the USCCB as a whole has proven itself to be ignorant about the Church's own past and too infatuated with intellectual fashion and the lust for political influence to be trusted.

If Olmsted can stand up to his fellows, then God bless him. Seriously. Frankly, however, I doubt whether he can; people in all groups (religious or secular) tend to think alike and cover each other's backsides. We learned that all too well in the clerical sex-abuse crisis.

11:34 AM  

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