Phoenix priest resigns during investigation

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted accepted the resignation of Fr. John Ehrich as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, effective immediately.

The resignation came after a meeting between Bishop Olmsted and Fr. Ehrich in which it was determined that for his own well-being and for the good of the parish it was best for Fr. Ehrich to resign.

Fr. Ehrich remains a priest in good standing within the Diocese of Phoenix.

The resignation came during an on-going investigation by the Diocese.

The Diocese wants to assure the parish and school community that there have been no complaints or allegations of physical or sexual abuse of a minor, nor any actions that are criminal in nature.

In the interim, Bishop Olmsted has appointed Fr. Oliver Vietor the administrator pro-tem.

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Statement from St. Thomas the Apostle

On May 15, 2014, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted accepted the resignation of Fr. John Ehrich as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.

The Diocese of Phoenix has not commented on any specific allegations in order to respect the privacy and reputations of those involved.

The Diocese of Phoenix retained an experienced outside law firm to investigate the allegations raised.

That investigator concluded that there is no evidence of any physical or sexual abuse of a minor, or any actions that are criminal in nature.

Furthermore, the investigator retained a licensed professional with broad experience in child protection matters to review the remarks made by Fr. Ehrich to students during a classroom discussion. The expert stated that Fr. Ehrich’s behavior was not consistent with any traditional "grooming" pattern and did not constitute predatory behavior.

Fr. Ehrich remains a priest with full faculties in the Diocese of Phoenix.

The Diocese of Phoenix is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God. Great efforts have been made to put systems into place to keep our young people safe.

Bishop Olmsted and the Diocese of Phoenix continue to encourage anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct or abuse to make a report to local law enforcement.