Friday, September 24, 2010

Sigh! He's back in town (Crookston, tomorrow)!

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Crookston peace conference set for Saturday


Controversial bishop to speak at Mount St. Benedict
The Benedictine nuns in Crookston are bringing in a retired bishop known for contravening Catholic teaching on homosexuality and male-only priesthood to talk about peace.

The Benedictine nuns in Crookston are bringing in a retired bishop known for contravening Catholic teaching on homosexuality and male-only priesthood to talk about peace.

But Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has key credentials for speaking at the Pax Christi State Assembly on Saturday: He’s the founding president of the peace and justice group formed in 1972 mostly by Catholics.

The former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, Gumbleton will speak on “Choosing Peace in Today’s World: Nuclear Disarmament,” at 10 a.m. at the assembly that runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Mount St. Benedict Monastery, 620 Summit Ave., in Crookston.

Gumbleton has traveled the world speaking mostly on peace, and has been arrested several times for civil disobedience at peace rallies in Washington and elsewhere, reportedly more than any other U.S. Catholic bishop.

But his years of what have been called “dissent and disobedience” on the church’s teachings on homosexuality, the ordination of women and contraception have made him controversial.

A year ago, Gumbleton was slated to speak in Marquette, Mich., at a similar peace conference.

But Bishop of Marquette Alexander Sample asked Gumbleton not to appear, because, he said in news reports, of Gumbleton’s opposition to church teaching that homosexual relationships and the ordination of women are wrong.

Gumbleton canceled his appearance in Marquette.

Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner isn’t taking part in the Pax Christi event because he has confirmations to attend in the diocese, said a diocesan spokeswoman.

An organizer of Saturday’s assembly, Sister Anne DeMers, said Hoeppner didn’t express any opposition to Gumbleton’s participation in the event.

“I think that’s maybe because he’s speaking on the issues of nuclear weapons and nonviolence and peace and not some of the controversial issues,” DeMers said.

Also speaking at the assembly will be Dan Svedarsky, biology professor at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, who spoke at the Copenhagen conference on climate change earlier this year.

Chris Curran, state coordinator for Pax Christi, L. Salima Swenson, Esko, Minn., and Jean Stumpf, Golden Valley, Minn., also will speak.

The sisters at the Mount last hosted the Pax Christi State Assembly in 2005, DeMers said. Pax Christi, nationally and in the local chapter of about 10, includes many non-Catholics, DeMers said.

She’s planning for 50 to 100 people to attend.

Interest in peace and justice issues isn’t what it was in the 1960s and ’70s, she said.

And some have asked her if nuclear war still is a threat since the Soviet Union was dismantled two decades ago and many nukes have been destroyed or mothballed.

“It’s not a hot topic right now, but it’s very pertinent and very relevant yet, because we already have all the nuclear weapons we will ever need,” DeMers said.

“They are still building new plants. One in Kansas City (Mo.), is being built that builds the non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, and people down there are protesting.”

Pax Christi condemned President George W. Bush’s policies in sending the U.S. military into Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, and has criticized President Barack Obama for continuing the war in Afghanistan.

But DeMers said Obama is on the right track in trying to decrease the numbers of nuclear weapons.

“He’s against proliferation. The problem right now is the terrorist bombs, the small ‘dirty’ (nuclear) bombs.”

The cost for the Pax Christi State Assembly is $30 today and $35 for registering at the door Saturday.

For information, call DeMers at (218) 281-3441 or e-mail anne.demers@ghshealth.org; go online at www.msb.net.

Grand Forks Herald

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