ARCC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church
3150 Newgate
Florissant, MO 63933
413-527-9929

Heroic Bishop

ARCC (the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church) wishes to congratulate and thank Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, Michigan, for having the courage to pierce the purple ceiling of denial of the reality of the clerical abuse of children. Bishop Gumbleton, who is well-known for his prophetic support of issues of peace and justice, revealed today that he himself was the victim of "inappropriate touches" by a priest when he was a teenage student at Sacred Heart Seminary. That the young Tom Gumbleton would persevere in his vocation to the priesthood after such an experience is a tribute to his strength of character and the grace of God.

Just before testifying before the Ohio State legislature in support of the creation of a legislative "window" of one year in which victims of clerical abuse could press their claims for legal redress however far in the past the incident occurred, Bishop Gumbleton "came out" to being a survivor of clerical abuse himself 60 years ago. Such a measure has already been passed and upheld on appeal in California and is under consideration in Pennsylvania and New York. It has been vigorously opposed by the bishops of Ohio.

Bishop Gumbleton's courage in breaking ranks with his fellow bishops and revealing his own past trauma is awesome. After explaining why victims don't come forward sooner -- "They are intimidated, embarrassed, and they just bury it. I understand that, I never told my parents. . . . I never told anybody" -- he proceeded to ask forgiveness, humbly, of all the victims of clerical abuse.

The Bishop explained his support of the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York bills by saying in his Ohio statement "I am persuaded that this is the most effective way to make all those responsible, bishops who protected priest-perpetrators as well as priest themselves, truly accountable for this tragedy and to deter similar recklessness or wrong-doing in the future, by any decision-makers, inside or outside the church."

"By bringing these cases to full exposure and full accountability we have a better possibility of restoring credibility in church leaders as moral
teachers and guides."

ARCC strongly advocates rights for all Catholics: children have the right to be safe around their clergy and clergy, including bishops, have the right to be acknowledged and supported by the laity when they struggle for right and justice against institutional corruption. ARCC is grateful that the Church has Tom Gumbleton as an honest, open moral teacher and guide. May his fellow bishops emulate him!

For more information contact

Ingrid Shafer, Vice President, ARCC

405-224-3988