Bp. Olmsted (D. Phoenix) interprets ‘Amoris laetitia’

Bp. Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix continues to impress.  Remember that he had the steel to remove the title “Catholic” from a hospital where – at the approval of women religious – a direct abortion was performed.   Lately, Bp. Olmsted has planned to open a seminary.  Take a look at his clarion call to men HERE. Take a look his letter to priests about confession HERE.

Now Bp. Olmsted issued directive about Amoris laetitia and Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.  Accompaniment, yes. Communion, not yet.

Amoris laetitia was written with great ambiguity.  This ambiguity, which some say is itself an indication of the mind of the writer, allows for those who are faithful to the Church’s teachings to be faithful to the Church’s teachings.  However, it also provides a measure – not complete, but only a little – of cover to those who are not faithful to the Church’s teachings, who want to do something which the Church hasn’t ever approved.

It is possible that things have gotten to such a point that even had Amoris laetitia been crystal clear and in unambiguous continuity with previous doctrine and discipline, both the faithful and the less-than faithful would have simply continued to do what they wanted, in fidelity or not.  However, the studied ambiguity will surely perpetuate the rupture, so that in side-by-side parishes, different practices and messages are found.

From LifeSite:

Bishop Olmsted: Amoris Laetitia does not allow Holy Communion for remarried divorcees

PHOENIX, Arizona, September 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Amoris Laetitiadoes not open the door to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion, Bishop Thomas Olmsted told the faithful of his diocese in the diocesan newspaper last week.

Amoris Laetitia “calls for deeper and sustained pastoral accompaniment of … suffering families,” Olmsted, the bishop of Phoenix, wrote in an article reflecting on the controversial exhortation. Pope Francis “[assures] them that they are welcome in the Church family, and that we are eager to seek ways to integrate them more fully into our local communities. … They should be encouraged to pray, attend Mass, and rectify the situation in communication with their pastor, who remains their pastor despite the case of objective sin. Accompaniment is possible and should be the case in our parishes.”

“This does not, however, include receiving Holy Communion for those who are divorced and remarried,” he noted. The bishop said Amoris Laetitia is in continuity “with the Church’s Magisterium especially that of Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI which reaffirm the constant tradition of the Church.” [Here is a solid, faithful bishop who has determined to interpret AL in continuity with the Church’s teachings.]

What Pope St. John Paul II laid out in paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortsio is the “consistent teaching and practice of the Church,” Olmsted wrote. Paragraph 84 explains why it is incompatible with Catholic doctrine to give Holy Communion to those living unrepentantly in objectively sinful relationships. It says in part:

… the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and affected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

In a September 5 letter to Argentine bishops, Pope Francis wrote that there is “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia than one that allows Communion for the divorced and remarried. Vatican Radio confirmed the letter as authentic.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Olmsted.


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  1. LeeF says:

    Kudos indeed to Bp. Olmsted. I have a bishop whom I believe to be 100% personally orthodox, but who is so non-confrontational that he never seems willing to show that orthodoxy through public actions like this. Instead, like most bishops in the great middle, he works slowly at a snail’s pace behind the scenes.

    But the good Bp. Olmsted has led in public. Will other bishops be courageous enough to follow?

  2. RobS says:

    So simple, and dead-on correct. Would that there was no longer any debate over this (non-)issue.

  3. pyoungblood says:


    I am certainly glad to see the good Bishop maintaining the constant teaching of the Church with regard to communion for those in second unions. However, when does “interpreting Amoris Laetitia in continuity” become lying about what the author of the document intended? [If your planet’s yellow sun doesn’t give you psychic power, you have to go with what the text says. That’s all we have: the text. That letter to that Argentinian bishop makes little difference right now. It is upsetting, sure. But when the smoke clears, we are left with the text of AL and that is what US bishops can work with.] If it wasn’t already clear that at least part of Francis’ end goal in both the Synod and this exhortation is to open the door to communion for the divorced and remarried, we now have a letter from the Holy Father himself clarifying his meaning in Amoris Laetitia. Can we really maintain that the proper interpretation of a document directly contradicts the author’s own intended meaning? Isn’t it better to simply say that Francis is wrong on this point, rather than to sow even more confusion by supporting an interpretation of Amoris Laetita that the Pope himself has now contradicted? [We have to go by what the text of AL says.]

    I ask sincerely, since I want to be a true son of the Church.[How does this impact you being a true son of the Church? Are you divorced and civilly remarried, or are you a priest working with such couples? Is AL touching on your state in life somehow?] But these “interpretations” from good bishops seems more akin to the fearful blindness of those in the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

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  5. juergensen says:

    Paul. Peter. Galatians 2:11-14.

  6. St. Irenaeus says:

    So in spite of the Argentinian missive…?

  7. wrightfam says:

    I wish I was a sheep in Bishop Olmstead’s flock.

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    Bishop Olmstead makes a serious mistake. With his well-intentioned attempt to do the impossible – making sense of “Amoris Laetitia” in the context of dogma and doctrine – he simply contributes to the confusion. The pope in his letter to the Argentinian bishops makes clear his intention, and while doing so he appears to feign ignorance of its repercussions.
    Headline on the September 15, 2016 issue of “The Irish Catholic” — DIVORCED/REMARRIED CATHOLICS CAN NOW RECEIVE COMMUNION.
    Is the Barque of Peter being navigated without notion of “nautical” realities and with no cognizance of the function of a rudder? That is the best take on things as they are. The other theory is that we are heading toward that iceberg deliberately. In either event, pretending neither scenario is not operative is undermining belief in the divine genesis of Holy Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterium. It is subverting the authority of the papal office and expunging the credibility of Roman Catholicism.
    Well intentioned though they are, hierarchical denials of what is transpiring are only enabling a systematic deconstruction of the Faith. We have done this before. We have toyed with this element in the Church far too long. There need be a serious excising of theological corruption. The immediate consequences will be earthshaking, but embracing the erroneous is no longer an option.
    Attempts by bishops to minimize the catastrophe we are enduring are mirrored in Catholic cyber journalism. Is anyone else noticing a certain reticence developing? “The Catholic Thing,” “Crux” and the “Catholic Herald” all seem to find it difficult maintain their “comment” option. “The Church Militant” has a censorship policy that rivals “Pravda” in the good old days.
    Is anyone connecting the dots?
    Those with concrete insight into the “back story” had best start illuminating the rest of us with concrete facts. Whatever the consequences would be “for the now” cannot be worse than what is about to prevail in the longer run. How can the inevitable be adverted? This cannot go on much longer without apocalyptic consequences for the Bride of Christ and for civilization.

  9. marie6566 says:

    I, too, wish I were a sheep in Bishop Olmstead’s flock, but I believe that we have to “bloom where we are planted.” This gives us a cause for our prayers for our shepherds. This and restoring the order of the sacraments. Bishop Olmstead is one of a few bishops who has restored the Sacrament of Confirmation to its proper order. 1st Communion and Confirmation are given in third grade in his diocese. Praise the Lord!!!! It is time we trust the Holy Spirit to work in our young children through their growing years. To trust that parents have been given the graces they need in the Sacrament of Marriage to educate their children. Religious education programs should never be used as a means of controlling parents rights to educate their own children by denying the sacraments to those they know are disposed to receive them.

  10. rmichaelj says:

    Olmstead (and a few others) contra mundum?

  11. tonyfernandez says:

    I visit this diocese once a year, and I must say that I’m always impressed with the celebration of the Mass and the way pro-life causes are solidly advertised. I once even heard a homily strongly against secular humanism. Kudos, Bishop! I hope that your example spreads to other, as the liberals say, less fortunate, dioceses.

  12. JabbaPapa says:

    In a September 5 letter to Argentine bishops, Pope Francis wrote that there is “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia than one that allows Communion for the divorced and remarried.

    This is a manifestly and blatantly false statement — in his letter : https://www.data.lifesitenews.com/images/pdfs/Carta_Francisco_en_respaldo_Criterios.pdf ; the Pope does not even mention the divorced and remarried.

  13. Nightcrawler says:

    So with guidance from the Holy Spirit the Pope was elected. What was the Holy Spirits message with this pope? I am clearly in the camp of Bishop Olmstead but am super confused with not necessarily what is going on but why is it going on?

  14. jbpolhamus says:

    Bishop Olmstead is a GREAT bishop, and he is correct in his interpretation, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, his interpretation is just that, HIS interpretation; and even MORE unfortunately, this chattering pope’s PERSONAL OPINION is just that, his non-doctrinal, non-binding, personal interpretation…OF HIS OWN WORK!!! This is not doctrine, it doesn’t even TRY to be doctrine, it’s quasi-curial blather which just spreads error and confusion and deserves to be consigned to every circular file in Christendom. As I wrote elsewhere, it is truly unfortunate when the captain of the Barque of Peter chooses to muddy the doctrinal waters by pooping over the side. This is all so much ado about nothing, doesn’t solve anything, and certainly doesn’t remedy anything, and a complete waste of time and life. I have more important things to do than allow this Bolshie Argie’s diharreah of the mouth to occupy my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Former Altar Boy says:

    Will the Bishop’s seminarians learn BOTH forms of the Latin Mass at the new seminary? If not, the plan is half-baked.

  16. comedyeye says:

    If what we have, in the end, is the text of AL, why does the letter to the Argentinian bishops
    matter at all?

  17. JTH says:

    Bp. Olmsted was the Rector at a seminary I attended shortly in the late 90’s. I found him a holy man who loved the Church. He did a lot to clean up the homosexual problem at the seminary.

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