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.

P.S. We are an Easter People.

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