Game Over For Bishop O'Brien


About a year ago, I wrote in an editorial that there has never been a tougher time to be a Catholic.

Times have gotten worse.

For months, the Phoenix diocese of the Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by scandal --candal perpetuated by the highest ranking officials within the diocese.

Just two weeks ago, Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien publicly admitted to covering up for priests accused of sexually abusing children. Since then, many have called for O'Brien's resignation or his removal by the Vatican. Ever the stoic, O'Brien said he will not resign, and the Vatican has refused to intervene.

Saturday night in Phoenix, near 19th Avenue and Glendale, I think a higher power intervened.

O'Brien, returning to his north Phoenix home from a confirmation ceremony in Buckeye, allegedly struck a jaywalker who was crossing Glendale Avenue.

The jaywalker, Jim Lee Reed, was then hit by a second car, which also fled the scene. Reed -- a father of two sons -- was pronounced dead upon arrival at John C. Lincoln Hospital.

Where was O'Brien?

In a final test of his character, the bishop fled.

With a license plate number, a witness led police to O'Brien's home. There, Monday morning, detectives found the bishop allegedly calling around to get estimates to repair his smashed windshield.

He reportedly told police he thought he might have hit a dog or cat. Wouldn't a man of the cloth, any compassionate man for that matter, have stopped to see what he hit?

With the bishop facing felony charges for leaving the scene of a fatal accident -- and a possible prison term of up to 3.75 years -- the Vatican will have no choice but to call for O'Brien's resignation.

Maybe then, the healing within the church will finally begin.

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