May Bishop Gumbleton's Voice of Justice Carry on
Detroit Free Press
January 27, 2006
For those who've grown up in his nearly continual presence in southeast Michigan, it's sometimes easy to forget that Thomas Gumbleton's voice carries across the nation and world. The Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop and pastor of St. Leo's, now offering to resign to comply with the church's retirement age, remains a beacon of social justice and nonviolence.
Ecclesiastical formalities aside, there is no reason Thomas Gumbleton can't keep being Thomas Gumbleton, an inspired preacher who faithfully holds up the most marginalized members of society. He has had no administrative duties for years, so where he stands in the hierarchy should make little difference.
In an era when the Catholic Church can't find enough priests, it would seem odd indeed if he did not retain his pastoral duties, for as long as he desires and is able, at the near west-side parish that he calls home. From that unassuming perch, his weekly sermons reach out into cyberspace via www.nationalcatholicreporter.org.
Gumbleton's ongoing ability to command national headlines was demonstrated earlier this month when he went to Ohio on behalf of victims of sexual abuse. At a news conference in favor of proposed legislation to lengthen the statute of limitations on lawsuits there, Gumbleton revealed that he, too, had suffered, as a teenager, at the hands of a priest.
In his singular way, Gumbleton embodied the depths of empathy for victims who, like himself, may let decades pass before they speak out. Yet he reached for the heights of forgiveness as well, saying of the man who abused him: "I realize mostly how badly that priest needed some help."
At 76, Gumbleton remains one of Detroit's great blessings. May his words emanate from here for years to come.
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