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America's Cutest Bishop!

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 15, 2005

The Detroit Free Press has yet another laudatory profile of soon-to-be-ex Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (thanks to Bill Cork for the link), citing examples of his predictable independent thinking and calling irresistibly to mind Tom Stoppard's description of James Joyce: "a complex personality, an enigma, a contradictory spokesman for the truth, an obsessive litigant yet an essentially private man who wished his total indifference to public notice to be universally recognised."

We see in the photo accompanying the piece Gumbleton himself in the act of being open to a woman of color, and collaborating in the Ministry of Presence with another woman garbed in an alb and in a second vestment which is probably not quite a priest's stole. A cute act for a cute bishop.

Gumbleton's naughtiness is of a humdrum Sisters of Loreto nature, and has pretty well run its course. The threats of ecclesiastical sanctions ring hollow, alas, as they are almost entirely a product of his daydreams -- think of the third-rank Lefty journalism prof at your community college who goes ecstatic with indignation when he finds out there's an FBI file on him, never mind that it contains nothing but a newpaper clipping about an Animal Rights lecture. That makes Tom Reese's kicker all the more bogus:

No matter what the Vatican decides, Gumbleton will retain the title of bishop. Said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and editor of America magazine, "You can't scrape away the sacrament of ordination" for bishops.

True, but they can scrape away the unction and return him to the lay state, as prescribed in the finale of the Rite of Degradation of a Bishop given in the Roman Pontifical of Benedict XIV.

Post haec Pontifex cum eodem cultello aut vitro abradit leviter caput degradandi, dicens:

Consecrationem, et benedictionem, atque unctionem tibi traditam radendo delemus, et te ab ordine pontificali, quo inhabilis es redditus, abdicamus.

With the same knife blade or shard the degrading prelate lightly scrapes the head of the degradandus, saying:

We utterly erase and eradicate the consecration, blessing, and anointing bestowed upon thee, and we put thee out of the episcopal order, whence thou returnest unclothed.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Fr. William - Feb. 17, 2005 12:50 PM ET USA

    DIogenes, you are good. Could we make this required reading at the next USCCB meeting... as a little motivational holy reminder for the successors to the apostles...?.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2005 10:03 PM ET USA

    That was a truly frightening picture. I wonder how many liturgical abuses weren't DIDN"T show up in that picture?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2005 2:38 PM ET USA

    I hope you're right about the "footnote to a footnote", but I'm afraid you may not be. In fact, I'll bet you fiftgeen cents and half a jar of mustard he tries to ordain a woman at some point.

  • Posted by: patriot6908 - Feb. 15, 2005 12:57 PM ET USA

    The film is almost over and the credits soon will appear with the sound track from Marty Haugen. Let's not scrape away his unction lest we make him a martyr, and then will hear no end of stories about his persecution. Soon, he will be a footnote to a footnote and then return to the dust promised to all of us. In life, he was a clown. In death, we know not. But for posterity, let's just leave a vacuum where once a bishop stood.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2005 12:13 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, such scraping is merely symbolic, and, unlike the Sacrament of Holy Orders, does not effect what it signifies.

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