January 20, 2006

The bishop as victim

Toledo Blade

AUXILIARY Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit may not win friends and influence people in high places in the Roman Catholic Church, but he will impress many sitting in the pews with his profile in courage.

The 75-year-old prelate traveled to Columbus to testify on behalf of pending Ohio legislation that would expand sexual abuse victims’ right to sue their alleged abusers. But Bishop Gumbleton did more than lend support to victims, he revealed himself to be among them.

He may be the first U.S. bishop to go public with his own story of sexual abuse, a shameful secret he kept for 60 years.

He was a 15-year-old seminary student when he was sexually abused, the bishop said, by a diocesan priest. Bishop Gumbleton said he never spoke to anyone about the inappropriate touching by the priest and tried to block it from his mind.

Even six decades later the senior church leader says he’s embarassed to talk about the molestation and still blames himself for letting it happen.

Posted by kshaw at January 20, 2006 06:45 AM