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Phoenix Diocese to be overseen by San Diego bishop, Pope Francis confirms

The fifth bishop of Phoenix will take the place of Bishop Thomas Olmsted after he reached the "age limit" for bishops, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix said.

PHOENIX — The 52-year-old Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix will be getting a new bishop, a press release from Pope Francis said.

San Diego Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan will be taking over for Bishop Thomas Olmsted, 75, after he reached the "age limit" for bishops. Olmsted's replacement will oversee the Phoenix Diocese's 94 parishes, 23 missions, 29 elementary schools, seven high schools, three universities, and one seminary.

"I am truly grateful to God for Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares who have warmly welcomed me to the Diocese of Phoenix," Dolan said. "Please pray for all three of us as we journey together on mission in Christ!”

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had more than prayers to share when the announcement was made. The organization's focus was on the perceived failures of Olmsted and the future of addressing sex crimes against children.

"Bishop Olmsted began an initiative to shield diocesan assets from further sex abuse claims by incorporating local parishes individually," SNAP said. "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."

A local representative of SNAP said the Phoenix Diocese should review cases of alleged abuse by church authorities. He said an independent list of people identified as “credibly accused” of sexual abuse within the Phoenix Diocese is fewer in numbers than what the diocese publicly acknowledges.

“I’m hoping with this new bishop that he brings in an attitude of transparency and accountability,” said Tim Lennon, a past president of SNAP.

“Too many times we learn about information in the church when it’s brought forth by public means and not through the self-reporting of the church.”

When asked if he will review files in possession of the diocese to ensure all allegations have been properly handled, Dolan said he will be transparent.

“I honestly don’t know what has occurred but yes, but the goal is to be as transparent as we know,” Dolan said.

In regards to potential future allegations of abuse, Dolan says he will make sure the diocese follows mandatory reporter laws.

“I think we will do our very best to make sure that first of all, if there is ever any claim that we will vet that, not ourselves, not inwardly, but send the information as best we know, as best we can to the powers that be in the civic arena,” Dolan said.

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