An article in the New York Times last week reports that Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit will be replaced due to what he believes to be retaliation from the Catholic church over his recent support for survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. Gumbleton also openly supports the acceptance of homosexuality, the ordination of women, and is a dedicated anti-war/peace activist–views which have certainly not made him popular in the eyes of the Church.
The picture I have posted here is of Gumbleton doing court support for Ireland’s Pitstop Ploughshares. I interviewed Gumbleton in Detroit last year for Critical Moment, and he reflected on his use of Catholicism as a tool of liberation, the war in Iraq, and the closing of 18 of Detroit’s Catholic schools. I found Gumbleton to be a warm, fascinating man–certainly unlike any priest I had ever come into contact with in my Catholic upbringing. After coming out of that meeting, I found myself thinking (albeit briefly) about what it would have been like to have been exposed to such examples of leadership in the Catholic church when I was young. Would I still have rebelled against my father and stopped going to Church at a young age? Well, probably (okay, yes!). Though organized religion is not for me, I can’t help wishing that there were more people out there like Gumbleton in the religious world, using their faith in and dedication to humanity to liberate rather than opress, and to inspire others to make the world a better place.