PHOENIX (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis is shaking up the Church in the U.S., and nowhere is that more evident than Phoenix, where he recently appointed a new bishop with disturbing ties to homosexual activists, including a prominent drag queen.
Earlier this month, just days after naming ultra-liberal San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy a cardinal, Francis announced the promotion of McElroy’s auxiliary bishop, John Dolan, to the Diocese of Phoenix.
Dolan, whose installation is scheduled for August, will replace retiring Bishop Thomas Olmsted, a noted conservative who has led the Church in Phoenix for almost 20 years.
Liberal commenters cheered Dolan’s appointment, rightly describing it as a “seismic shift in leadership” and a “significant ideological shift.” Indeed, in stark contrast to Bishop Olmsted, Dolan has a scandalous pro-homosexual background, one nearly as troubling as McElroy’s.
While serving as auxiliary bishop of San Diego, Dolan presided over a pro-LGBT Mass in a largely homosexual neighborhood, allowed a nationally-known drag queen activist, who alleged that he requested the Mass, to speak at the event, and accepted an award from the man on behalf of an international drag queen network.
Dolan had previously pastored the same church, where he allowed another homosexual activist to promote dissident views and target faithful Catholics. Weeks before his appointment to the episcopate, Dolan attended a summit of heterodox group New Ways Ministry, even after parishioners warned him about the organization’s LGBT agenda.
As bishop of Phoenix, Dolan will oversee one of the largest and fastest-growing dioceses in America and a long list of Catholic institutions, including 94 parishes, 23 missions, more than two dozen elementary schools, several high schools, three universities, and a seminary, according to the Associated Press. The faithful in Arizona should brace themselves.
Dolan’s blasphemous LGBT Mass
Like many of Pope Francis’ high-profile U.S. appointments, Bishop Dolan’s problematic record on LGBT issues is extensive and involves incorporating pro-LGBT activism into the Holy Mass.
In October 2017, four months after his consecration as auxiliary bishop of San Diego, Dolan celebrated a Mass for “families of the LGBT community” at St. John the Evangelist Church in Hillcrest, a predominantly homosexual San Diego neighborhood.
The LGBT-themed Mass commemorated the 20-year anniversary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) controversial letter on homosexuality titled “Always Our Children,” which, among other things, described “experimenting” with homosexual behavior as a “process of coming to terms with sexual identity.” The Vatican censured the document within months of its release.
Dolan’s Mass featured several pro-LGBT San Diego dignitaries, including then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who co-chaired a group of mayors in support of “marriage equality,” and California state lawmaker and current San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, an open homosexual.
Also in attendance was San Diego City Commissioner “Nicole” Murray Ramirez, a drag queen and national homosexual activist who served as a board member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT lobby group in the U.S. and a driving force behind the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”
Mr. Murray-Ramirez was known for mocking the Catholic Church by dressing like a nun while calling bingo at a local homosexual club, LifeSite reported. In 2011, he pressured San Diego Bishop Robert Blom to grant a Catholic funeral to the owner of an LGBT nightclub.
Despite his background, Murray-Ramirez was allowed to speak at the lectern of St. John the Evangelist Church after Holy Communion. He said that his “prayers were answered by these two bishops [McElroy and Dolan]” who had “spoken out for equality and civil rights.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, the cross-dressing activist presented McElroy and Dolan with a “humanitarian award” named for pro-homosexual San Francisco Mayor George Moscone on behalf of an international drag queen organization called the “Imperial Court System.” McElroy, a San Francisco native, remarked that he knew Moscone personally.
Murray-Ramirez has also suggested that the two San Diego bishops celebrated the LGBT Mass at his request.
In a Facebook post praising Pope Francis’ elevation of McElroy to the College of Cardinals, Murray-Ramirez said that the “beloved” bishop and Dolan “granted our request for a [M]ass to be said for LGBTQ Catholic families” at St. John the Evangelist. “I had the honor of speaking at the [M]ass,” he added.
The drag queen had stated in an earlier post that he was “asked to speak” at the event.
Murray-Ramirez and McElroy both previously attended a vigil service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego after the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting at an LGBT club in Florida by a radical Islamist.
Murray-Ramirez spoke at that event as well and posted a photo on Facebook appearing to show Bishop McElroy embracing him after his speech. Murray-Ramirez wrote that McElroy “presided over” the service with bishops of the Episcopal Church, which began recognizing same-sex “marriages” in 2015.
Honoring homosexual predators, not God
In his homily at the “Always Our Children” Mass, Dolan told individuals in the congregation who identified as homosexual or lesbian that “we will accompany you and ponder the mysteries of Christ within you” without explaining what he meant, an attendee told LifeSite at the time.
Dolan’s homily didn’t call on homosexuals to repent of their lifestyles and didn’t discuss Church teaching on sexuality, another local Catholic said, describing the remarks to Church Militant as a “total capitulation to the homosexual activist agenda.”
One parishioner who attended the sacrilegious Mass to pray for participants referred to it as a “staged media event” that denigrated the Eucharist.
“I believe the real story is how the bishop turned the celebration of the Holy Eucharist into a media event,” he told LifeSite. “The whole event seemed to be choreographed, with the TV cameras, the VIPs, including the mayor and city council member, the imported rich gays (at least two of them were from Palm Springs), the Hillcrest elite gay men’s group with the matching T-shirts.”
“It is absolutely disgusting to see the Holy Eucharist used for a political agenda,” he added.
During the event, Bishop McElroy even paid homage to San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, a pederastic statutory rapist and pioneer of the homosexual movement. Milk was killed by a fellow Democratic politician in 1978 over a political dispute unrelated to his sexual proclivities.
“I remember the terrible day that Harvey Milk was murdered in an act of violence, prejudice, exclusion and hate,” McElroy said. “And it is from that terrible starting point that we have to move forward as a Church.”
Murray-Ramirez is co-chair of the Harvey Milk Foundation.
‘Married’ homosexual activist dominated Dolan’s parish
Murray-Ramirez isn’t the only homosexual activist closely linked to Dolan and McElroy.
As pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, Dolan notably allowed a man in a same-sex “marriage,” Aaron Bianco, to run parish programs and spread dissident views on homosexuality and abortion while cracking down on parishioners who bucked his LGBT agenda, as LifeSite has reported.
Bishop McElroy installed Bianco as pastoral associate at St. John the Evangelist before assigning Dolan there later in 2016. The Hillcrest parish had been led for more than a decade by a conservative priest, Fr. William Dillard, who McElroy transferred that year.
Bianco had allegedly been removed from a previous post as head of young adult ministry at San Diego’s St. Joseph Cathedral in 2014 – before McElroy’s tenure – for using Bible passages to support LGBT propaganda.
But soon after arriving in San Diego, McElroy assured Bianco that he would not fire him due to his gravely sinful lifestyle, according to The Wall Street Journal. Despite concerns raised by parishioners, the new bishop “let me know that [being homosexual] should not hinder me from participating fully in the life of the church,” Bianco said.
Bianco, who also served as “program outreach associate” for heretical “Catholic” organization Call to Action starting in 2015, held several roles at St. John Evangelist parish, leading education programs and young adult and pastoral outreach ministry and hosting an “LGBT Bible study” group. The parish even identified him as the point of contact for couples preparing for marriage.
A parishioner at St. John the Evangelist told Church Militant that Bianco dominated their parish through his “very close” relationship with Bishops McElroy and Dolan.
Dolan and New Ways Ministry
Under Dolan’s leadership, Bianco promoted New Ways Ministry (NWM), a prominent LGBT activist group blacklisted by the Vatican, and the organization’s April 2017 summit “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Era of Pope Francis.”
Dolan himself participated in the summit even after members of St. John the Evangelist approached him about NWM’s dissident agenda, which includes support for same-sex “marriage” and “gender transitioning.”
When Pope Francis appointed Dolan an auxiliary bishop of San Diego the following month, NWM celebrated the move, praising Dolan’s “LGBT-positive record” and apparent encouragement of what he called “the LGBT experience.”
And while Dolan led St. John the Evangelist parish, Bianco also introduced pro-abortion material in the church vestibule and targeted orthodox Catholics, Church Militant reported: “The group of faithful Catholics who complained – members of a group that met regularly to pray the Rosary – were targeted by Bianco, who locked the parish doors, forcing them to pray in the parking lot.”
Dolan eventually shut down the parish’s Legion of Mary chapter, members of which had complained about Bianco’s activism, and removed a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary set up by Fr. Dillard and used for Rosary devotions by parish families.
The Diocese of San Diego hired Bianco as diocesan coordinator of “LGBT ministry,” though he resigned in 2018 amid backlash and alleged vandalism of his office, for which no suspects were found. Dolan left St. John the Evangelist Church in 2017.
But the two appear to have made a lasting impact on the once-faithful parish, which continues to advertise monthly “LGBT Ministry” without mentioning Catholic teaching on chastity.
To this day, Bianco remains a fixture in dissident Catholic circles and is scheduled to speak at an LGBT conference hosted by Fr. James Martin later this week.
In May, the Vatican invited Bianco to speak about his homosexuality at a conference on Amoris Laetitia hosted by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, led by liberal U.S. Cardinal Kevin Farrell, another Francis appointee. The Pope himself met with Bianco earlier this year.
Bishop Dolan has similarly continued his LGBT activism. In May 2021, he signed a statement issued by 14 prelates, including McElroy, and organized by a pro-homosexual lobby group telling “LGBT youth” that “God is on your side.” The statement predictably made no reference to Church teaching on sexuality or gender.
Abuse cover-up in San Diego
Dolan’s appointment as bishop of Phoenix also comes amid mounting scrutiny over the San Diego diocese’s handling of clerical sex abuse.
In a recent interview with Crisis Magazine, abuse survivor Rachel Mastrogiacomo detailed the diocese’s extensive efforts to protect now-laicized rapist priest Fr. Jacob Bertrand, who served as associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist Church immediately before Dolan arrived and remained in ministry even after confessing his guilt to the diocese.
In 2014, Bertrand admitted to abusing Mastrogiacomo in the presence of diocesan administrator and later vicar general Fr. Steven Callahan, but the diocese still transferred him to St. John the Evangelist the following year, a few weeks before McElroy’s installation.
The Diocese of Raleigh had sent the diocese a report describing Mastrogiacomo’s allegations of satanic ritual rape she suffered at the hands of Bertrand in 2010, when she was 24 years old. Other women in San Diego made similar complaints. But McElroy left Bertrand in active ministry for more than a year, until August 2016, after learning that Bertrand was being prosecuted.
Prosecutors accused the diocese of withholding key files about the priest, who ultimately pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the third degree and faces 10 years’ probation.
Bertrand’s case reflects an apparent pattern regarding abuse of adults that persisted into Dolan’s time as auxiliary bishop, vicar general, vicar for clergy, and moderator of the curia.
In 2018, the San Diego diocese sparked outrage for declining to alert parishioners that police launched an investigation into Fr. Juan Garcia Castillo, an associate pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Carlsbad, for sexual battery of a seminary student. Castillo was convicted that December.
The website of the Diocese of San Diego still does not maintain a list of priests or employees credibly accused or convicted of abusing adults.
Former San Diego priest weighs in
Commenting on Dolan’s promotion, longtime San Diego priest Fr. Richard Perozich noted in a statement to LifeSite that the Vatican continues to elevate liberal clergy at the expense of faithful, tradition-minded clerics.
Pope Francis’ advisers push appointments of priests and bishops focused on “LGBTQ rights, politicizing the Eucharist, women in ministry, including the diaconate,” and other left-wing priorities, such as COVID-19 jabs, immigration, and climate and racial ideology, “among other concerns of the modern world and church leaders,” lamented Fr. Perozich, who led the San Diego diocese’s Courage chapter and served on the diocesan board for Natural Family Planning before his retirement in 2016.
McElroy banned Fr. Perozich from writing columns in weekly bulletins of his parish shortly after the priest stressed Church teaching on matters of intrinsic evil and criticized unregulated immigration, restrictions on legal gun ownership, and militant Islam. He retired soon after.
“Priests who believe and preach the classic Catholic faith” and defend Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of life, sexuality, and sin “will continue to be passed over for episcopal appointments despite holiness and fidelity,” he told LifeSite.
“Some will be sidelined for their preaching of the Scripture and Tradition of the Church,” Fr. Perozich added. He encouraged priests to prioritize “their personal holiness and that of those to whom they minister” over “church structures and episcopal advancement.”
Dolan’s woke background
Bishop Dolan has publicly embraced many of the liberal causes listed by Fr. Perozich, including giving the Eucharist to politicians who facilitate mass slaughter the unborn. Last spring, Dolan joined McElroy and more than 60 other bishops in urging USCCB president Archbishop José F. Gomez to halt discussions about banning pro-abortion lawmakers from Communion.
Dolan’s name, however, didn’t appear on a fraternal correction letter issued earlier this year by around four dozen U.S. bishops, including Bishop Olmsted, warning the German hierarchy that the heterodox, pro-LGBT “Synodal Path” inevitably risks “schism.”
And while the San Diego bishops and like-minded prelates have decried Communion bans for pro-abortion lawmakers as “instrumentalizing” the Eucharist, Dolan is no stranger to political Masses.
A few months after his “Always Our Children” Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church, Dolan joined McElroy to preside over a “binational Mass” in front of a strip of border wall separating California and Mexico. The Mass kicked off a year-long program calling on the Trump administration to loosen federal immigration rules, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Outgoing Phoenix bishop’s orthodox, pro-life record
In sharp contrast to Dolan and McElroy, Bishop Olmsted has consistently stood up for Church teaching. The retiring bishop has forcefully opposed abortion and wrote in his 2021 apostolic exhortation Veneremur Cernui that any “Catholic” officials who support “gravely immoral” pro-abortion laws must “refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they publicly repent and receive the Sacrament of Penance.”
“Woe to us bishops if we do not speak clearly about the grave evil of abortion, and the consequences of any Catholic who participates in the act or publicly supports it by word or action,” Bishop Olmsted said in a statement later that year. “And it is a false patience and pastoral concern that, year after year, stays silent or speaks in abstractions while the slaughter continues with the full endorsement of Catholic politicians under our spiritual care as bishops.”
The longtime Phoenix bishop also has a record of championing the family, declaring in his diocesan voting guide that “promotion of the natural structure of the family” is “non-negotiable” for Catholics in political life. In a 2016 interview, Bishop Olmsted decried so-called same-sex “marriage” as a “falsification” of marriage and has said that Christians must publicly oppose it even at the risk of persecution.
He drew praise for his 2015 apostolic exhortation “Into the Breach,” which called on Catholic men to join the fight for life and family and condemned gender ideology and the Sexual Revolution as part of a diabolic attack against families, society, and the Church.
Soon after being installed bishop of Phoenix in 2002, Bishop Olmsted required all deacons to take a course on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and instructed priests about Natural Family Planning. He later established a diocesan resource center on Theology of the Body.
As debates over the COVID-19 jabs rankled the U.S. episcopate last year, Bishop Olmsted was among the few prelates who publicly supported parishioners’ conscience rights, affirming that one can discern not to get jabbed “in good conscience” – a position understood to have led to Pope Francis’ recent ousting of popular Puerto Rican Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres.