Tucson, Ariz., Diocese Shuns Retired Mich. Bishop Gumbleton

Associated Press, carried in Detroit News
January 30, 2007

Tucson, Ariz. - The Catholic Diocese of Tucson won't allow a retired auxiliary bishop from Detroit to speak on church property because the group hosting his visit takes positions contrary to church doctrine.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said he's written to the Rev. Thomas J. Gumbleton, an outspoken advocate for sexual abuse victims and gays and lesbians, and told him that his visit to speak to the Tucson chapter of the Call to Action group can't be sanctioned by the church.

Call to Action is a group of lay Catholics that seeks changes in church doctrine on gays, lesbians and priestly celibacy, and has urged more democratic processes in the church, including election of bishops.

Because Gumbleton has been barred from speaking at diocese churches, he instead will speak Feb. 6 at the First Christian Church in Tucson, led by the Rev. Robin Hoover. Hoover's congregation supports making all religious entities more open and affirming of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Gumbleton has spoken of his own youthful abuse by a priest.

He recently was denied reappointment as pastor of Detroit's St. Leo's Catholic Church, which he'd led since 1983.

In a video of his last Mass at St. Leo's, filmed by a parishioner and posted on the National Catholic Reporter Web site, Gumbleton says he still wants to lead St. Leo's and believes he was not reassigned because of his recent talks about sex abuse in the church.

The Archdiocese of Detroit says it did not renew Gumbleton's position because of his age.

At age 75, all bishops must submit a letter of resignation directly to the pope, Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop of Detroit, wrote in a letter to parishioners distributed the weekend of Jan. 20-21. Maida wrote that the pope had accepted Gumbleton's resignation.


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