A retired auxiliary bishop who reportedly has worn a mitre with a pink triangle and a rainbow ribbon on it has publicly gone against the words of Archbishop Allen Vigneron who recently said that those opposing the Church's teaching on gay marriage should not present themselves for Communion.
"Don't stop going to communion. You're okay," reportedly said Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton.
Bishop Gumbleton has long been a contrarian on many things. He's publicly spoken at events and has been honored by organizations like New Ways Ministry, an organization dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics. The USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage assured Catholics that New Ways Ministry is not in conformity with Catholic teaching and should not identify itself as a Catholic organization.
Bp. Gumbleton has also spoken at events sponsored by the group "Call to Action" which awarded then excommunicated Sister of Mercy Margaret McBride with the 2011 Call To Action Leadership Award at their annual conference precisely for her role in a decision at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix to abort an 11 week old unborn baby. My Fox Detroit reports:
"If you look at it from a pastoral point of view where you're trying to reach out to people, trying to draw them in, then the last thing you want to do is impose a penalty or make them feel like they have to impose a penalty upon themselves," Gumbleton said. The bishop says the church's approach should be pastoral not punitive. Just this week, he counseled a couple with a gay son. "Husband, wife, raised seven children, Catholics all their lives, they're in their eighties now, and the mother says to me, you know I can't go to communion anymore," said Gumbleton. "They're hurt and she's crying because we can't go communion and that means so much to them." Gumbleton says it's a matter of conscience, which is deeply personal. "Not everybody's going to come to the same conclusion at the same time, so we have to keep on working with people and trusting people that they're trying to do the right thing," he remarked.
Gumbleton's brother reportedly is gay and this revelation made a big impact on the now retired bishop.
Now, as you might suspect, Bp. Gumbleton is getting quite a bit of adoration from the media for speaking truth to power. As you also might suspect Abp. Vigneron didn't receive quite the same treatment from the media which largely ignored him or derided him. The damaging thing here though is that because his comments will be so widespread, Bp. Gumbleton's public comments will likely confuse many Catholics who will see these conflicting statements as evidence that the Church hasn't really made up its mind about marriage. Maybe they'll think the Church is "evolving" like so many politicians are currently claiming.
The only thing that can be done to promote the Church's teaching on these issues is for priests to talk about these issues. Often. So many Catholics have simply never heard an argument against gay marriage. Let's change that. Let's not allow Bp. Gumbleton's words to be the last word on marriage that Catholics hear.