Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary bishop of the Detroit archdiocese, is a leading voice for peace, justice, and civil rights in the United States. He is a co-author of the 1983 U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference Pastoral Letter, "The Challenge of Peace." One of the first bishops to speak out against the Vietnam War, he is a founding member and past president of Pax Christi USA, the American Catholic peace movement. He is also 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. He has spoken out courageously on behalf the victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church, and he has advocated for the full participation and the rights of women and homosexuals in the Catholic Church. He has met with victims of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, Haiti, and Peru. He led a delegation to visit the American hostages in Iran in 1979. Among his many awards and honorary degrees are the 2007 Detroit Spirit of MLK Award and numerous lifetime achievement awards for peacemaking. His homilies are read by thousands each week in the National Catholic Reporter. From 1983-2007 he was the pastor of St. Leo Parish, a vibrant church in inner-city Detroit. In January of 2007 he was forced by the archdiocese of Detroit to leave his post and his home at St. Leo's. He continues to serve the people of Detroit as a priest and bishop, and to travel the world speaking and working on behalf of victims of war, violence, and prejudice.
"I have observed the American Catholic Church closely the past 40 years, and the leadership of Bishop Tom Gumbleton strikes me as light in the darkness, one prescient on virtually all the issues of consequence these 40 years. He resides in an inner city parish in Detroit. Gumbleton opposed Vietnam, led the way on the Bishops' pastoral condemning nuclear weapons as incompatible with the Gospel, championed conscientious objection, and took up the cause of the oppressed in Latin America. He actually accompanied Aristide back to Haiti when Clinton restored him to the presidency in 1994. He was in Iraq working to prevent the first Gulf war in 1990. He led the way among the hierarchy on the rights of gays and passionately defended the sexually abused victims of wayward priests. Bishop Gumbleton has repeatedly asked his fellow bishops to unequivocally condemn the ongoing war in Iraq.
His is a monumental legacy, but the fate of many prophetic leaders is to be ostracized by the institutional powers. I think he's viewed as out of touch, too radical, a confirmed pacifist, not compatible with the thinking of the moderate majority. For many of us Tom Gumbleton is a "Giant" in the American church; his legacy will endure. Compassion is the life-line he brings to the people."
-Joe Bradley, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Philadelphia
(from the Catholic Peace Fellowship Newsletter February, 2006)
For more information on Bishop Gumbleton and his work around the world visit his website.
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