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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A U.S. bishop is speaking out strongly against the sexual revolution.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona was a speaker at the 15th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday. The bishop told the gathering of the nation's Catholic leaders that they must avoid both "arrogant presumption" and "cynical despair."
He quoted a speech by Pope St. John Paul II during his 1979 visit to the United States about the Church's central role in the pro-life movement.
Bishop Olmsted went on to say, "It is my pastoral duty to bear witness to the Gospel of Life, and to pray and to work for a restored protection in law of the most vulnerable among us."
He argued that many heresies include false beliefs about the human body, adding, "This includes the current heresy, which is embodied — pun intended — in the sexual revolution, and now in its radicalized version, the gender ideology (as Pope Francis calls it)."
"Any rejection of bodiliness," Bp. Olmsted opined, "will immediately target two beautiful, but demanding and sometimes inconvenient, realities: marriage and the child."
He noted that heresies such as Gnosticism, Manichaeism and Albigensianism were opposed to the sacredness of matrimony, as were English King Henry VIII and Martin Luther.
"And marriage stands now in the way of the gender ideology," he said.
He exhorted, "We Christians, then, must stand up for this reality of marriage today, in our homes and in the public square, despite the real risk of persecution for doing so."
Turning to how "the child" is a reality being targeted today, Bp. Olmsted said, "Look at the vociferous opposition to the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Where does this blatant disregard for a child's life come from? From a hardened heart."
"A child needs love, and love costs," he remarked, "and the human heart must be prepared to pay the cost of love when the child arrives."
He continued, "Christ calls us to stand up for each child and, where no human heart has been ready to receive the new life, to allow Him to expand our hearts, to receive that child, to stand in the breach left by the hardened heart."
The bishop exhorted, "Brothers and sisters, we can do this! We were made for such a time as this! God destined us for these historical circumstances."
Bishop Olmsted then spoke about the clerical sex abuse scandals that have slammed U.S. Catholicism in the past year:
This morning, I also want to say a word to the laity of the Church, who are justly angered at the revelations of so much sin, and failure in leadership, among priests and bishops of our beloved Church. Your concerns are just, and need to be answered with both sacrifice and actions that are wiser than despair. Please pray for us, your shepherds, that we might act with radical trust in the grace of the risen Christ, to bear any burden that comes from offering healing for the victims, honestly naming the evil, clearly defending inconvenient truths of the Gospel and exercising decisive leadership in Christ's name. We bishops owe this to you. And more importantly, we owe this to the Lord Himself — nothing less. As one called by Christ to be a shepherd in these times, I also owe you, and the Lord, clarity in my teaching.
The bishop mentioned the falling birth rate in the United States, and noted that American Catholics' widespread defiance of Church teaching on contraception is likely a contributing factor.
He then quoted at length an apostolic exhortation he had written previously, in which he listed the sour fruits of the sexual revolution: "sexual pleasure separated from procreation, sexuality separated from marriage, man divided from woman in divorce, woman divided from child in abortion, youth separated from the hope that love can be faithful and beautiful, the elderly separated from children who can care for them at life's ends."
The document went on to state, "These divisions, these separations, are a plague of misery on a scale never known before. Enough! Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, you are called to have great hearts here, counter-cultural and brave. You can build something better, freer, more generous, and nobler — beginning in your own home."
That apostolic exhortation, titled "Complete My Joy," was promulgated on Dec. 30, 2018.
Near the end of his speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Bp. Olmsted exhorted, "Christians are called not to complacency, but to greatness — to have hearts great enough to be filled with God."
"We are called to be saints," he continued, "saints with lives full of the Holy Spirit, women and men who live heroic virtue."
He encouraged Catholic parents to be generously open to children, whether by begetting children or through adoption. He called on them to lead their families closer to God, and to do so "with deep and childlike faith in Him."
In October 2015, Bp. Olmsted released an exhortation to the Catholic men of his diocese titled "Into the Breach."
The opening of the document reads:
I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men.
Olmsted has been the head of the Phoenix diocese since 2003.
When Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò released his August 2018 testimony claiming that Pope Francis removed disciplines that were imposed on Theodore McCarrick, Bp. Olmsted commented, "I ask that Archbishop Viganò's testimony be taken seriously by all, and that every claim that he makes be investigated thoroughly."