October 9: Members of the Citizens for Peace and Social Justice group said they are appalled, sad and frustrated over a decision by Bishop Alexander Sample of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette to deny a Detroit bishop permission to speak publicly in Marquette this weekend.
"We're really confused about it," said Darlene Dreisbach, a member of the Marquette peace organization. "Doesn't that seem like the Middle Ages?"
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, 79, of Detroit was invited by the Citizens for Peace and Social Justice group to talk about "Visions of Peace: Abolition of Nuclear Weapons" at a forum scheduled for Monday. He was also invited to give a speech on peace in a local church on Sunday.
"Yesterday afternoon he called us and said he received a letter from Bishop Sample to not speak publicly," Dreisbach said. "He was not told why."
Gumbleton, a retired Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop of the Detroit Archdiocese, is a longtime national and international activist in the peace movement, according to Dreisbach.
"He was the founder (member) of Pax Christi USA," she said. "He was one of the first bishops to speak out against the Vietnam War."
Gumbleton, whose homilies can be read in The National Catholic Reporter, has been known as an outspoken critic of violence and militarism; his stances have drawn national attention. He was arrested several times for anti-war protesting and performing acts of civil disobedience outside of The White House.
"I don't know how one bishop can deny civil rights," Dreisbach said, adding that she now has to cancel every event planned for Gumbleton's visit. Marquette Mining Journal
Bishop Sample statement released
MARQUETTE - This is the statement of Bishop Alexander K. Sample of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette, issued this morning:
"I attempted to handle this matter in a private, respectful and fraternal manner with Bishop Gumbleton. It is unfortunate that what should have remained a private matter between two bishops of the Catholic Church has been made available for public consumption.
"I want to first of all say that my decision to ask Bishop Gumbleton not to come to Marquette had absolutely nothing to do with the group who invited him to speak, Marquette Citizens for Peace and Justice, nor with the topic of his publicized speech, since the Church is a strong advocate of peace and justice. I am sorry for the negative impact this has had on those planning this event.
"There is a common courtesy usually observed between bishops whereby when one bishop wishes to enter into another bishop's diocese to minister or make a public speech or appearance, he informs the local bishop ahead of time and seeks his approval. I have had no communication whatsoever from Bishop Gumbleton.
"As the Bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, I am the chief shepherd and teacher of the Catholic faithful of the Upper Peninsula entrusted to my pastoral care. As such I am charged with the grave responsibility to keep clearly before my people the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals. Given Bishop Gumbleton's very public position on certain important matters of Catholic teaching, specifically with regard to homosexuality and the ordination of women to the priesthood, it was my judgment that his presence in Marquette would not be helpful to me in fulfilling my responsibility. I realize that these were not the topics upon which Bishop Gumbleton was planning to speak. However, I was concerned about his well-known and public stature and position on these issues and my inability to keep these matters from coming up in discussion.In order that no one becomes confused, everyone under my pastoral care must receive clear teaching on these important doctrines.
"I offer my prayers for Bishop Gumbleton and for all those who have been negatively affected by this unfortunate situation." Marquette Mining Journal