Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Priests say they were forced out of ministry

Five of the nine Catholic priests who signed the pro-gay Phoenix Declaration no longer are on active duty in the Phoenix Diocese.

Three of those who have left active duty say they were forced out by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. One other is seriously ill, and the fifth resigned on his own, in part because of philosophical differences with the bishop. They all signed a 2003 declaration endorsing civil rights for gays and lesbians that was endorsed by clergy members from several Christian denominations.

The ousted men are among at least 11 Catholic priests who have left active ministry since Olmsted became bishop in late 2003. Their departures further exacerbate a shortage of priests in the diocese, which has several parish vacancies.

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