Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Speaks out for Sexual Abuse Victims; Reflects on Lifetime of Activism

Democracy Now!
April 12, 2013

[with video]

As newly elected Pope Francis orders the Vatican to act more decisively on sexual abuse cases, we speak to retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit. A survivor of sexual abuse himself, Gumbleton was forced to resign in 2007 after he spoke out publicly in favor of an Ohio bill to extend the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse by clergy. Gumbleton spoke here in New York City last night at a benefit for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Bishop Gumbleton has also been a leading voice for peace, justice and civil rights for decades. He helped found Pax Christi and Bread for the World. We also speak to him about poverty in Detroit, Lori Berenson, war tax resistance, why he challenges the church’s position on gay marriage, the anti-nuke movement and liberation theology. [includes rush transcript]


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We begin today’s show by looking at the ongoing sexual abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church. Newly elected Pope Francis recently made his first public statement on the issue. The pope ordered the Vatican to, quote, "act decisively as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned, promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past (and) the necessary procedures against those who are guilty."

But outside groups, including the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, have questioned the pope’s actions. While serving as cardinal in Argentina, Pope Francis was criticized for failing to meet with abuse victims.

Just in the past week, a number of new revelations about sexual abuse in the church emerged. On Sunday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia permanently removed three priests from the ministry, including one whose accuser killed himself after his allegation was dismissed by church officials. Meanwhile in Austria, authorities have charged a defrocked priest with sexually abusing 15 children as head of a Catholic boarding school.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the former auxiliary bishop of the Detroit Archdiocese. He’s been a vocal supporter of victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In 2006, he revealed he was sexually abused by a priest as an adolescent while in the seminary. Last night, Bishop Gumbleton spoke here in New York at a benefit for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Bishop Gumbleton has also been a leading voice for peace, justice and civil rights for decades. Bishop Gumbleton is a founding member and past president of Pax Christi USA and a founder and former president of Bread for the World. Since becoming a bishop in 1968, he has traveled throughout the world calling for an end to war and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, welcome to Democracy Now!








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