Phoenix Diocese’s new bishop has hopes for transparency

Bishop Dolan, age 60, has been acting as the auxiliary bishop of San Diego but will now take the helm of the Phoenix Diocese after Bishop Thomas Olmsted.
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 9:49 AM MST|Updated: Jun. 10, 2022 at 11:48 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- The next bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix says he will strive to be open when it comes to investigations of sex abuse. Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan was introduced at a news conference Friday. The 60-year-old says he has not yet caught up on the status of abuse claims but his goal is to have transparency. He will be installed officially in August. He will be only the fifth bishop in the diocese’s 52-year history. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted resigned after reaching the age limit of 75 for serving bishops. Bishop Olmsted has served Phoenix since 2003. “I give thanks to God and to our Holy Father Pope Francis for sending us a brother bishop,” said Bishop Olmsted during Friday’s news conference. “I know you will appreciate the beauty of the desert and those whom Jesus has called to be his faithful witnesses here. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I have no doubt that you will come quickly to know our new bishop’s joyful spirit and his generous heart, who like me, gives thanks to God each day for the love of Jesus and the honor to be His servant.”

Bishop Dolan, a former parish priest in San Diego ordained in 1989, has acted in multiple internal administration positions within the church. He was has been acting as the auxiliary bishop of San Diego since April 2017. Bishop Dolan was known in San Diego for his support of refugees who fled from Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. In 2017, he was also celebrated as an “LGBT-positive” priest by New Ways Ministry. In 2021, he was one of the 14 Catholic bishops who signed a statement called “God is on your side” encouraging and protecting LGBT children.

“I begin this service to the people of God here in the Diocese of Phoenix knowing that my Lord is with me and the Spirit of God is guiding me,” said Bishop Dolan. The bishop continued, translating what he said into Spanish, and then thanked both Bishop Olmsted and Bishop Navares. “I ask our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Diocese of Phoenix, to help me to continue to say yes to the Lord as your new bishop.”

Survivors of church sex abuse say they hope Dolan will live up to the promise of transparency. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests or SNAP said in a press release that they hope Bishop-elect Dolan will work to “make the protection of children and the vulnerable his highest priority”.

The diocese has served 1.2 million Catholics in Phoenix for 52 years.