Bishop of Marquette Alexander K. Sample has commented on his request that Bishop Thomas Gumbleton not come to the diocese. He said it was “unfortunate” that the request has become public, but he explained that Bishop Gumbleton’s position on issues like homosexuality and the ordination of women required it.
Bishop Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, had been invited to speak by Marquette Citizens for Peace and Justice at St. Mark's Lutheran Church on the topic "Gospel's Call: Action for Peace." He also planned to speak at the Peter White Library about abolishing nuclear weapons.
Explaining that his action did not concern the group itself or Bishop Gumbleton’s speech topic, Bishop Sample said he was sorry for the negative impact upon the group, which canceled its meeting.
However, he noted that it is “common courtesy” for one bishop to inform another bishop ahead of any visit and to seek his approval.
“Only on October 9 did I receive any communication from Bishop Gumbleton, after this situation had already become public,” Bishop Sample said in an October 9 statement.
The Bishop of Marquette then noted his “grave responsibility” to teach Catholics 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,” he added.
Bishop Gumbleton was an early advocate of ministries specifically for homosexuals and opposed what he saw as unjust discrimination against them.
The bishop, who has a homosexual brother, has also challenged the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that a homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered.
Bishop Sample said he would not be able to prevent issues of contention from becoming a topic of discussion at Bishop Gumbleton’s appearance.
“In order that no one becomes confused, everyone under my pastoral care must receive clear teaching on these important doctrines,” his Oct. 9 statement concluded.
The prelate also offered his prayers for Bishop Gumbleton and all those negatively affected by “this unfortunate situation.”