Bishop reveals he was sexually abused by a priest

Retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has said that he was "inappropriately touched" by a priest as a teenager 60 years ago.

The National Catholic Reporter says he is the first US bishop to reveal himself as a victim of clergy sex abuse.

The revelation comes in a statement from Gumbleton endorsing legislation in Ohio that would open a one-year window for victims to file lawsuits over sexual abuse, no matter how long ago it took place. The legislation is opposed by the bishops of Ohio.

The Washington Post published a story about Gumbleton's testimony yesterday. In a telephone interview with the Post, Gumbleton said, "I don't want to exaggerate that I was terribly damaged. It was not the kind of sexual abuse that many of the victims experience." But, he said, he knows why sex abuse victims often cannot file lawsuits within the period allowed by the statute of limitations, which in many states is two to five years after the alleged crime.

"They are intimidated, embarrassed, and they just bury it. I understand that," he said. "I never told my parents. I never told anybody."

During a meeting of the national bishops conference in Washington a few years ago, he said, he came close to mentioning his own experience with sexual abuse. "But then the conversation somehow changed," he said.

Gumbleton told the Post that the incidents took place in 1945, when he was in the ninth grade at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.

"As often happens in these cases," he said, a priest used to invite him and one other boy to a weekend cabin. "At some point, he would start wrestling with one of us. Then he would be putting his hands into your pants," the bishop said.

Gumbleton, 75, declined to name the priest, who he said has been dead for more than a decade. "I don't have any animosity for him. I hope he's praying for me in heaven," he said.

Gumbleton reveals he was sexually abused by a priest (National Catholic Reporter 11/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (Archdiocese of Detroit - PDF)

Bishop stands up to Vatican on retirement requirement (CathNews 28/1/05)

Detroit Catholic bishop says he was molested by priest (Detroit Free Press 11/1/05)
Bishop Tells of Paper of Abuse by Priest (Leading the Charge 11/1/06)

12 Jan 2006