Thursday, January 12, 2006

Great Gumbleton!

Detroit Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, already known as a peace advocate and supporter of gay and lesbian Catholics, is now also championing victims of clerical sexual abuse, revealing for the first time in his life that he was the victim of "inappropriate touching" by a priest in the 1940s. According to the Detroit Free Press, Gumbleton--a perennial thorn in the side of many other bishops--made his comments in support of a relaxation of the statute of limitations on abuse claims in Ohio, which dioceses there are vigorously opposing.

No matter what you think about relaxing limitations, the legal spokesman for the U.S. bishops' conference, Mark Chopko, gets no praise from me in his arguments against it, rejecting a relaxation for "punishing the church today, and the people sitting in our pews today, for things that happened generations ago." Don't you get it? Some of the people sitting in our pews are the victims themselves, and some of the abusers are still preaching from our pulpits. This is one reason, and a good reason, why the U.S. bishops have lost most of their moral credibility.

And, besides, whatever became of the church understood as the one body--or is that only when there is no money involved? Victims deserve a just settlement for their suffering and injury, and it can hardly be argued that negligent superiors (bishops especially) were not responsible in part for some of the abuse. If the "people in the pews" feel unjustly burdened, they should make their views known and demand redress from their leaders.

As for Gumbleton, I can only lament that this great pastor never headed a diocese, primarily because of his outspokenness about peace, justice, and the dignity of gay and lesbian people. Still, he has made good use of the office given him, and I for one thank him for his faithful service.


Post a Comment

<< Home