By Hilary White

MESA, January 18, 2006 ( – Another priest of the “Phoenix Nine” has resigned his post as pastor of a Phoenix Catholic parish. Fr. Chris Carpenter announced this weekend to his parishioners at Christ the King Catholic Parish in Mesa, Arizona, that he was leaving in order to address, “some health and other concerns.”

Carpenter is one of the dissenting priests who, in 2004, signed the so-called “Phoenix Declaration,” that claimed the Church’s teaching on human sexuality “leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death.”

“The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin,” the statement read. This flew in the face not only of Catholic teaching, but the words of Carpenter’s own bishop, Thomas J. Olmsted, who wrote in a column, “A key distinction, then, is needed when considering homosexuality, namely between the homosexual tendency on the one hand and homosexual acts on the other. Those who engage in homosexual acts commit serious sin . . . (but) persons who have homosexual inclinations but do not act on them are not guilty of sin.”

Carpenter said that his resignation had not been requested by Bishop Olmsted. The bishop said in a press release, “Fr Chris will be missed very much.”

Carpenter removed his name from the list of signatories to the Declaration at Bishop Olmsted’s request saying, “I do so in fidelity to my promise of obedience and respect for the Bishop of Phoenix and in the interest of parish and diocesan unity.”

Bishop Olmsted has been among the very small number of bishops anywhere in the Church directly to tackle the issue of homosexuality among the priests in his diocese. He has published letters explaining the Church’s teaching on homosexuality on his website. The first Christmas eve after his appointment, he joined pro-lifers praying the rosary outside an abortion facility.

Most Catholics agreed that Phoenix was in need of a clean-up. The previous bishop, Thomas J. O’Brien, resigned in 2003 amid a cloud of scandal, not least when he was arrested and convicted of killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run accident.

O’Brien had offered his resignation to the Vatican earlier that year in order to avoid criminal indictment after admitting he had covered up allegations of sexual abuse by priests for decades. O’Brien revealed that at least 50 priests, former priests and church employees had been accused of sexual misconduct with children in the Phoenix Diocese. It was later revealed that the Phoenix diocese was considered a haven among homosexual priests.
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