Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted privately has ordered nine Catholic priests to withdraw their support from an interfaith statement supporting gay rights. Two of the nine priests who signed the Phoenix Declaration in January 2003 confirmed they received "personal and confidential" letters from the bishop last week. In the letter, Olmsted tells the priests and one religious brother to remove their names "under obedience" to him. No consequences are spelled out for those who decline. . . . Olmsted said the declaration came to his attention "a few weeks ago," leading him to invite the priests "to talk with me personally about this serious pastoral matter." . . . Olmsted's predecessors, Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien and Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, both knew of the declaration but declined to take action against the priests who signed it. O'Brien led a bishops committee in 1997 that drafted "Always Our Children." "Don't back gays, bishop tells priests", by Michael Clancy.
The Arizona Republic April 28, 2004.