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Arizona newspaper offers a curious profile of Bishop Olmsted

December 27, 2010

The Arizona Republic published a profile of Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix, offering some perspective on the quiet prelate who has captured nationwide attention by announcing that a hospital in Phoenix can no longer be considered Catholic.

While not actually hostile, the newspaper profile betrays some an inability to understand the perspective of a Catholic leader, commenting that the public statements and writings of Bishop Olmsted “often are strictly religious in nature and densely packed with references to Scripture, papal writings and other church documents.” In other words, he speaks primarily about religious topics, speaks from a Catholic perspective, and grounds his statements in the teachings of the Church. Is that—or should it be—surprising?

The Republic also seems surprised by the bishop’s choice of topics for his public statements:

He takes on issues of the day infrequently and has not written extensively on immigration, the economy or war. When he does take on current events, the position is almost inevitably conservative, restating the church position on marriage, homosexuality and ordination of women.
But marriage and homosexuality are surely “issues of the day” for all Americans, and the ordination of women is certainly an issue among Catholics. On the other issues mentioned in the newspaper profile—immigration, the economy, and war—there is no single, defined, orthodox Catholic stand. By steering clear of public statements on those topics, Bishop Olmstead avoids involvement in partisan politics.

The Republic recognizes the bishop’s dedication and sincerity, but questions his compassion—particularly regarding the critical case in which an abortion was deemed necessary to save a woman’s life. There is another perspective, however. Bishop Olmstead was the only major public figure who showed compassion for the doomed unborn child.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Obregon - Dec. 27, 2010 11:12 PM ET USA

    Amazing isn't it? The Bishop speaks like a bishop and the media blames him, for being a bishop, “often are strictly religious in nature and densely packed with references to Scripture, papal writings and other church documents.” What's next, criticizing the Pope for being Catholic!

  • Posted by: Father Fetus - Dec. 27, 2010 8:57 PM ET USA

    This article was a thinly veiled attack on Bishop Olmsted, an example of yellow journalism at its worst. I only subscribe to this sad excuse for a newspaper for its obituaries.

  • Posted by: SentimentalGent - Dec. 27, 2010 4:15 PM ET USA

    It just goes to show — AGAIN — how clueless the secular media when it comes to the Catholic Church. Or biased. Or a combination of both. I've worked in the newspaper industry as an editor and writer for more than 20 years. When it comes to some news people in the industry, calling them clueless is being kind.