Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien, who served as leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix from 1982 until 2003, will be laid to rest on Friday after a funeral Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Phoenix.
O’Brien died Aug. 26, at the age of 82, after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He left behind a mixed legacy, serving as host to Pope John Paull II and Mother Teresa, both of whom were canonized as saints, lobbying on behalf of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day and LGBT tolerance, and working as an influential community leader for most of his tenure.
But he became embroiled in scandal in 2002, and was forced to sign an admission that he had covered up sexual abuse by priests, doing so in exchange for immunity from prosecution. And in a settlement with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, he agreed to institute reforms for how priest abuse is monitored and approved funds to assist victims.
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Two weeks later, he struck and killed a man in a hit-and-run accident. He resigned from the office and was convicted by a jury. He was sentenced to probation and community service.
O’Brien retained the title of bishop and remained a priest, able to fulfill all priestly duties, until his death. He had been living in Phoenix since he stepped down.
Visitation will be held Thursday at St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. Third St., Phoenix, from 2 to 5 p.m., with a rosary at 4:30 p.m., and from 7 to 8 p.m., with a vigil at 8 p.m.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday at 10 a.m., also at St. Mary’s Basilica.
A private entombment will take place Friday afternoon.
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