Pope Francis taps San Diego Auxiliary Bishop Dolan to lead the Diocese of Phoenix; SNAP calls for action

(For Immediate Release June 10, 2022) 

Today, Pope Francis named Bishop John P. Dolan, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego to lead the Diocese of Phoenix Arizona. Dolan succeeds the retiring Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted who has led the diocese since 2003. Given the history of church leadership in Phoenix, there is much work ahead for Bishop-Elect Dolan.

For example, In 2008, after the diocese had spent several million dollars to settle about 20 lawsuits, Bishop Olmsted began an initiative to shield diocesan assets from further sex abuse claims by incorporating local parishes individually. Through his actions, Bishop Olmsted demonstrated that he cared more about the money his diocese brings in rather than the children and families his diocese serves. Bishop-Elect Dolan must work to invert this structure and put children, families, and survivors first.

Since his appointment in 2017, Bishop Dolan, who was ordained a priest for San Diego in 1989, has worked as vicar general, vicar for clergy, and moderator of the curia. These are all internal administrative positions which makes it highly likely that Bishop Dolan had more knowledge than most about clergy sex crimes within his diocese. Through this high-ranking position within the diocese, surely he knew more than most and likely followed the nationwide “playbook” that Pennsylvania A.G. Josh Shapiro detailed in his 2018 Grand Jury Report.

We hope that Bishop-elect Dolan will make the protection of children and the vulnerable his highest priority and we suggest immediate steps he can take when he is formally installed as bishop.

First, the Bishop should read every file of every person accused of abuse in his diocese and ensure that each case is being or was handled properly. He should audit every single one of those files and be sure local police and prosecutors have this information. This is especially critical as there are likely secrets that were actively hidden by previous heads of the Diocese of Phoenix.

Second, Bishop-elect should review the “credibly accused” list released to the public by his new diocese and make sure that it is complete. We find the current list of accused clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix woefully inadequate and needs a significant amount of detail added. It should include the name of every abusive bishop, priest, brother, nun, seminarian, and church employee or volunteer, in addition to information about when each allegation was made and what actions were taken by diocesan officials in response. Additionally, Bishop-elect Dolan should update the list to include headshots and the current whereabouts of each person named.

For years, Catholic officials have promised transparency and openness to the public about sex crimes. We hope Bishop-elect Dolan can live up to that promise.

 CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Mary O'Day, SNAP Leader Phoenix ([email protected]) Tim Lennon, President Emeritus SNAP Board of Directors, SNAP Phoenix, (415-312-5820, [email protected])  Paul Livingston, SNAP Leader San Diego ([email protected], 619-408-9111)
Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

 (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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