FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church
Florissant, MO 63933
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
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