DETROIT – Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is supposed to write a letter to Pope John Paul II next Wednesday. Trouble is, he doesn’t want to do it.
"Traditionally, you are supposed to write to the Pope on your 75th birthday and offer to resign," Michigan’s most politically controversial bishop said, chuckling softly over breakfast. "But it’s so arbitrary – some of them they ignore, but if you are the least bit progressive, they accept it immediately."
If that’s the case, the Vatican may accept his resignation with the speed of the Internet. But Bishop Tom has no desire to lay his burden down.
No surprise there. In a career built on disobedience this is just one more disobedient act. Bishop Gumbleton has been a favorite of the National Catholic Reporter and the graying Call to Action crowd with his support of women’s ordination and acceptance of homosexual acts.
What if he somehow just forgets to send the letter in?
"I suspect I’ll get a call saying that the Pope is looking for my letter." He thinks forcing him into retirement would be a waste. He says he knows another round of church closings is coming.
"They say it isn’t arbitrary, but it is, and they never address the real reason, which is that there aren’t enough priests."
He thinks the archdiocese should train a network of lay pastoral ministers, and send priests in to perform the sacraments. But his advice tends to be ignored. He admired Cardinal Dearden and sometimes got into shouting matches with his successor, Edmund Cardinal Szoka. But the current archbishop, Adam Cardinal Maida, mostly just ignores him. [Source]
Whether he is forced into retirement or not it is a good policy to ignore him or anybody else that can’t speak a paragraph without saying "prophetic voice." Since he is so high on concentrating on pastoral ministers and seeing priests as only performers of sacraments he shouldn’t mind only saying the Mass without getting involved in a parish.
My favorite quote from the linked article is: “If you are saving souls one at a time you really aren’t going to get very far.” So what then? Focus groups and mass mailings? There’s a pastor for you.
The proper response in Gumbleton’s case would be for the Holy See to announce its acceptance of his resignation an hour before the resignation is formally tendered.
But the current archbishop, Adam Cardinal Maida, mostly just ignores him.
Time was when we could count on faithful Catholics to follow the lead of their bishops.
“If you are saving souls one at a time you really aren’t going to get very far.” So what then? Focus groups and mass mailings? There’s a pastor for you”
Well, there was a Chinese general in the early part of the twentieth century who converted to the Methodist Church and decided all of his men should be Methodists too. As his army was too large for the standard baptismal font and he didnt want to take a chance with them swimming away if he marched them through a stream, he had them all line up by company and had then baptized them using a fire hose. The same thing might work in Detroit, or would using the Detroit Fire Department for such a purpose violate the establishment clause of the Constitution as that clause is currently interpreted?