AZ- Local pastor removed for allegations of abuse, Victims respond

For immediate release: Thursday, May 29, 2014

Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP western regional director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949-322-7434, [email protected])

Phoenix's St. Thomas parish has been plagued by alleged abusive clerics. Another one has just been publicly exposed.

Our hearts ache for the parishioners. They have had two pastors credibly accused of abuse, an assistant pastor jailed for sexual abuse, and another pastor who "disappeared." Now, they have had to fight the diocese just to be heard regarding complaints about their latest pastor, Fr. John Ehrich. He has been accused of sexually harassing adults and being inappropriate with children.

We urge Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted to immediately reach out to every current and former parish member and staffer, and beg them to call the police if they have suffered, seen or suspected abuse. We also hope that he does everything necessary to encourage healing and accountability at the parish. 

We urge parishioners to continue to be vigilant and speak out against clerics who may be abusing children. We also beg them to talk to their children about abuse in a safe and age-appropriate manner. Finally, we ask them to "speak with their pocketbooks" and refuse to give any more money to the Diocese of Phoenix, who has repeatedly shown that it cannot monitor the men they employ or keep Phoenix children safe from abusive priests.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected])


Showing 5 comments

  • Father Jb
    commented 2017-07-19 19:53:07 -0500
    Brian, Let’s try some honesty here. Surely you do not believe that simply coming here and calling me names takes away from the truth of what I said. My experience is my experience. You can’t take that from me. It’s mine. Neither do I have to justify it. Or, perhaps it was your real aim to silence me, and others like me, through intimidation so we might become less willing to come forward and speak out. Only you, and God, know the truthful answer to this.

    But you’ve made your position quite clear to all by attacking me. That you so obviously justify and support Fr. John in his bad decision to offer, by all descriptions, what was a graphic talk on anal sex to a young audience is rather shocking. How do you reconcile your support for his actions with the moral teachings of the Church regarding proper conduct towards youth?

    I suggest you examine your conscience on the matter, Brian. Are you being truly honest with yourself? Please remember. No one is perfect, not even a priest. Neither is anyone, regardless of clerical status, above reproach in matters of moral accountability.

    When laity, as was the case here, are so disturbed by a priest’s conduct towards adults and youth alike that they feel compelled to contact the bishop and/or law enforcement, that is exactly what they should do. Any concern for the wellbeing of our youth must always demand that such allegations of crime and misconduct be taken very seriously and investigated. Indeed, once reported, the Church and the police have a grave moral imperative to investigate fully.

    Since that is exactly what happened in this case, I fail to understand the difficulty you are having. I suspect that your difficulty stems not from the events of this case, but from the fact you have placed the priest in question so high on a pedestal of perpetual praise, that you can tolerate absolutely no question of his character. But, as the history of abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has taught us, no priest should ever be regarded so highly. Rather, he should be held to the same standards of conduct to which all are held by the laws of God and man.

    I must say. Your words to me have been utterly accusatory, disrespectful and uncharitable. They were also quite uninvited. But since you have made them, let me challenge you, Brian.

    Did not Jesus himself teach us how to deal with those with whom we disagree? Jesus did not love only those who agreed with him. Jesus did not seek out only the “orthodox” or right thinking. Jesus did not embrace only the perfect, the holy and the righteous. Rather, he embraced all people and loved them.

    You might consider taking the Lord seriously when he says two things: “Love one another” and “Stop judging.” Brian, I want to tell you some good news. Human beings are not meant for a life of bitterness, quarreling, name-calling, debating, and quibbling over petty matters. No. Human beings were made for God’s glory and for one another. They were made for love, unity and oneness while still enjoying the gifts of diversity and uniqueness as expressed through the dignity and goodness of the divine gift of personhood and personal dignity. I hope you sense some of that in my response to you. At least this is my prayer for you, dear brother in Christ.
  • Brian Tyree
    commented 2017-06-25 01:57:26 -0500
    Father JB, you are a coward. You failed at debating Fr. Ehrich in seminary and that means he has the potential for pedophilia in your mind? If you’re going to unjustly assault someone’s character like that, have the courage to post your full name. Hiding behind anonymity makes you look weak and pathetic. As MJ stated, there are NO accusations of crimes against Father Ehrich. He is one of the finest priests I have ever met. Father Ehrich himself would never assault an individual’s character as you just did, and if he did do that, he wouldn’t be afraid to sign his name to it.

    -Brian Tyree
  • Father Jb
    commented 2017-03-18 18:28:12 -0500
    I was not the least bit surprised when I heard about his forced resignation and demotion. I went to seminary with John. I remember him as rude, crude and arrogant. I recall that he was so “Orthodox” in his own mind that no one else was ever right unless they were agreeing with him. Indeed, one could not have a reasonable conversation with him about anything pertaining to liturgy, philosophy, morality or theology without enduring his sarcastic, snide and condescending comments a short way into the discussion. Embarrassingly, this applied to his conversations with his professors in class as well. I also remember that John would refuse to attend a Mass, if he did not deem the celebrant “Orthodox” enough. This alone should have been a red flag for the formation team. But, like many things, it was also overlooked.

    As I see it, John’s current plight is not only due to his own moral failing but the moral failing the Roman Catholic Church which continues to miss the mark when it comes to properly screening, evaluating and forming candidates for the priesthood.

    As long as the garbage-in/garbage-out formation system remains common practice in Roman Catholic seminaries, we can expect more victims of these misfit priests who are negligently ordained and then unleashed on the faithful of our parishes. No doubt, low standards will continue as the priest shortage worsens.

    There’s a certain irony to the fact that John was designated a moral authority in his diocese by his own bishop while clearly lacking the moral character for such a role. I think this attests to the fact of how little bishops really know about the men they are admitting to their presbyterates on the blind advice of the seminary formation directors they trust.
  • Mj Voita
    commented 2016-07-08 03:06:59 -0500
    The kind of drivel Orthodox Catholics have to deal with daily!? I shouldn’t be surprised all these years later, that many still hide the truth. For those who need to go to “The School for Kids who can’t Read Good” in short: Fr John was fired for being a real life old school Orthodox Roman Catholic Priest.

    He’s one of the finest priests Ive ever known personally. No sex crimes were committed, no accusations! There were however, several trigger warnings & safe spaces disturbed. You should do research on what groups of people abuse children the most. Try Hollywood, the Occult & Public School teachers, you will find far higher percentages.

    Do you believe in equality or applying higher moral standards only towards Christians, because they believe sin is real? Some wax poetic about all priests being pedophiles, when its roughly 4-6% of clergy accused. With no mention of the common 12-14% of teachers accused of sex crimes.

    A majority of Church sex crimes are committed by militant homosexual priests. Who are not content to be accepted & follow Jesus commands, which includes celibacy. Even straight folks have to stay celibate, or make love to their spouse organically only.

    The pedophiles are largely protected by the practicing homosexual priests conclaves. Who are trying to change the teachings established by Jesus Christ, while living in Blasphemy. The pedophile problem is something the church has to suffer in part because it does not reject homosexual people, but embraces them fully. How many
    Pedophile priests would we have, if we banned gay people from the priesthood?

    Fr John did not change the gospel, he never preached anything that the Church Fathers would have taken issue with. Ive read many Papal Encyclicals that confirm what I heard. Fr John would be in good company with the likes of G.K. Chesterton or a number of Saints. He has the intellect & will for truth, in concept & practice.

    Fr John gave talks to some of the older kids at St Thomas, about various things including human sexuality. I went to STA for 9 years as a child, so I understand the demographic. Poor practicing Catholics who sacrifice to send their kids to Catholic School. And the rich fake Catholics & non Catholics, who enjoy the benefits of Catholic education. So long as Catholicism doesn’t step on their secular toes.

    From what I heard from fairly reliable sources: When asked, Fr John explained Church teachings about homosexuality. Why it teaches that homosexuality is disordered, sexually perverse, societally damaging & un healthy. Also explaining that Homosexual desires are not inherently sinful & that the church loves all people including homosexuals. That It just doesn’t allow the practice of sodomy or purely oral sex, for straight or gay Catholics. You don’t have to agree with the concept of chastity, but those who do are not committing a “hate crime” for having that opinion.

    When pressed about the medical aspect, he explained why putting your sexual organ into another persons rectum, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from a health/cleanliness perspective. This is scientifically medically true, regardless of your view. You may have no issues with Sodomy, but it is still a more dangerous sexual behavior than monogamous, straight, vaginal sex.

    The Church has always taught this. Yet its what really offended students & certain parents. Im assuming some of those wealthy parents, who have much pull among the hierarchy. Nobody forced these people to go to Catholic School.

    Then a request from the Bishop to step down “For the greater good” after the “right” or should I say “Left” people complained. Which reminds me of that disgusting phrase “It takes a village”. Father had the authority to fight the request, but chose to obey the chain of authority. In humility & love, a true Catholic. He was basically fired for bluntly, forcefully, accurately, proclaiming the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. So he peacefully, obediently, resigned.

    Only to be accused of being a Pedophile by the fake journalists, judgmental ex Christians, atheists & agnostics! Clearly looking for anything to help them feel more justified in their failed philosophies. People with no facts or inside information just assumed the worst. Such hatred, bias, ignorance, insults & false claims from false progressives. Who then go pay to see a Movie, made with the aid of Hollywood pedophiles?

    The former football playing, still rock guitar jamming, alpha man, who had girlfriends before becoming a priest, is accused of being the exact opposite of everything he is. For teaching Orthodox Catholicism!

    I want Fr John to Baptize my next child & there will be more. Eat your heart out “Population Bomb” fans ;) Even if the secular clergy in the hierarchy send him to timbuktu, I will find him. Because he’s a real life Orthodox Roman Catholic Priest, not a fake one. I love him with all my heart, in a totally non gay way.
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