PHOENIX, April 28, 2004 ( – Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, the newly appointed leader of the Phoenix Catholic diocese, has ordered nine priests and one religious brother to remove their names from a document written and promulgated by an activist organization for homosexual clergy, “No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice.” The “Phoenix Declaration” states “Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We affirm that GLBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.”  The bishop has ordered the priests and brother to remove their names “under obedience” to him. All Catholic diocesan priests make a public promise, or vow, of obedience to the bishop as a condition of their ordination. The bishop, who is writing a series of articles on homosexuality for the diocesan newspaper, said that he invited the priests to talk with him privately “about this serious pastoral matter”. No sanctions were spelled out in the letter against any priest who refuses to comply but a diocesan bishop has a number of possible options in disciplining priests, up to and including suspension, which means a priest may not celebrate Mass, preach or hear confessions.  Bishop Olmsted replaces the recently disgraced bishop Thomas J. O’Brien who stepped down when convicted of killing a man in a hit-and-run car accident. The Phoenix archdiocese has been plagued with scandals involving priests abusing young men. Bishop O’Brien had been under a cloud after he received immunity from prosecution in cases where he had been accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by the priests of his diocese. Both O’Brien and the interim leader, Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan knew of the document and the priests’ participation but neither of them chose to act. coverage:   No Longer Silent Phoenix Declaration: