Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bishop Sample of Marquette tells Bishop Gumbleton 'don't come to my diocese'

On the phone to Fr Owl just now, he tipped me off about my very good friend (we studied Canon Law together at Rome) Bishop Alex Sample's press release concerning his request that retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Gumbleton, renowned for his views that priests should be allowed to marry, that women should be ordained priests and his promotion of homosexuality in the Church should not come to his diocese where he had agreed to address meetings organised by the Marquette Citizens for Peace and Justice to speak on how the Bible calls for peace and on the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Now, I'm sure we'd all agree that it is a good thing to preach peace. But a Bishop always acts in the name of the Church. He cannot simply go into another diocese as a private individual. Since his publicly expressed opinions on fundamental dogmatic and moral matters conflict with those that Bishop Sample promotes for the good of his flock in total fidelity to Christ and His Church, Bishop Sample acted with the greatest responsibility for the welfare of his flock in asking Gumbleton not to come to his diocese.

There is no infringement of the right of an individual to speak. The only right a pastor in the Church has when it comes to speaking is to proclaim the truth, and always with the at least presumed consent of the proper pastor of the local Church.

You can read more (for and against) at:
Lifesite news
Te Deum
Fr Z
a local Upper Michigan website
Curt Jester
Fr Tim Finigan
The Mining Journal.

Bishop Sample is a pastor who is much loved by faithful Catholics, as I witnessed when I stayed with him last August. This stand he is taking will cause him to suffer but he will be greatly consoled by the support he will receive from people in the US and around the world.

I think the words of Pope Benedict in his inaugural homily at the beginning of his papacy are apt:

My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

Please support Bishop Sample with your prayers and your messages of support.

Bishop Sample's 9th October statement follows:
“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. Only on October 9 did I receive any communication from Bishop Gumbleton, after this situation had already become public.

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.”

UPDATE 15th Sep: keep the bishop in your prayers who is getting a rough time from his local paper.


  1. You mean it's about more than wearing a fancy hat?


    [I sent an email to the bishop's office, and got a nice reply back. His secretary thought you were a stand up guy too!]


Please avoid being 'anonymous' if at all possible.


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