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What’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, however, is both. Which is why the Catholic Church had to get rid of him.
You see, Gumbleton is popular with the people. He is well liked and highly respected. During his 23 years at St. Leo’s Church in Detroit, Gumbleton earned himself a very liberal reputation complete with peace activism and support of LGBT rights. Therefore, he is not so popular with Catholic Church bigwigs like Archbishop of Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida who sent Gumbleton a letter saying, essentially, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Now it’s true that once a bishop reaches age 75 he’s required to send a letter of resignation to the pope. But it’s also true that a bishop may keep on keeping on, as it were, on a year-to-year basis so long as he was healthy and wanted the job.
Gumbleton more than meets both those criteria. However, the Archdiocese of Detroit doesn’t want him.
For one thing, he treats LGBT people with dignity and respect. In September 2002 Gumbleton wrote a column in a national Catholic weekly in favor of ordaining gay men. He supports The Triangle Foundation. In 2003, Gumbleton testified at the trial of three gay Catholics who were arrested who protested after being refused Communion. “This experience reinforces my opinion about how important it is that the Catholic Church reach out to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” he said.
Considering the pope just went out of his way to dis gay families by asking Christian denominations to band together to fight same-sex marriage, Gumbleton’s position is a pretty big no-no.
But Gumbleton himself told BTL last week that gay issues aren’t why he was given the boot.
“I’m sure it’s because of the openness with which I spoke out last January concerning victims of sex abuse in the church. So we’re all suffering the consequences of that, and yet, I don’t regret doing what I did because I still think it was the right thing to do,” he told his congregation during his last sermon, according to The New York Times.
It was last January when Gumbleton said he, too, was a victim of abuse by a priest, and he threw his support behind an Ohio bill that would extend the statute of limitations so abuse victims could still sue the church. The bill failed.
And so has the Catholic Church in letting one of the good ones get away. Though one only has to look as far as Sister Jeannine Gramick, the woman behind New Ways Ministries, an LGBT inclusive Catholic organization. Sister Gramick has also felt the smiting of Cardinal Maida for her support of LGBT rights. It’s as if the Catholic Church is so steeped in dogma it has forgotten that whole “teachings of Christ” thing.