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LGBTQ Catholic Group Mourns the Passing of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

April 5, 2024. DignityUSA joins members of the Archdiocese of Detroit and millions of people around our country and the world in mourning the death of Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton. Bishop Gumbleton presented at DignityUSA's 1999 convention in Denver and received DignityUSA’s Risk Taker/Justice Maker Award in 2013, recognizing his courageous challenges to official Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and his pastoral care of LGBTQIA+ people and families.

Frank D’Amore, President of Dignity/Detroit noted that Bishop Gumbleton had presided for Chapter liturgies on several occasions. “His ministry and support were real bright spots in our 50-year Chapter ministry to the LBGTQIA+ people here in Detroit,” said D’Amore.

“Bishop Tom Gumbleton modeled Christian love and service quietly, and with extraordinary humility and bravery,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA. “He made himself present to many vulnerable, marginalized communities, including LGBTQIA+ people. He addressed racial marginalization, stood with the poor in Central America, celebrated Christmas with the hostages in Iran, and was unwavering in solidarity with people who were abused by priests and others in our church. He was a staunch opponent of war, and raised concerns about nuclear weapons, always focused on the threat posed to humanity. Bishop Gumbleton lived what he preached.

Duddy-Burke said that she admired Bishop Gumbleton’s willingness to learn and change his mind. “Whether on racial issues, the extensive effects of poverty, or LGBTQ issues, Bishop Gumbleton listened to people directly impacted, trusted their testimony, and reconsidered his own beliefs. Early in his clerical career, he followed church teachings on sexual orientation. However, after his mother asked if the bishop’s brother would go to Hell for being gay, he was forced to acknowledge that these teachings were wrong and harmful. That demonstrated both humility and a deeply pastoral approach to Catholic ministry that we need more of. He dared to challenge church dogma at a time it was career-ending to do so.”

Carolyn Shalhoub, acting Vice President of Dignity/Detroit said, “I think that Bishop Gumbleton’s experience of learning something new due to his experience of having a gay brother, and having to make sense of that despite his seminary training had a big impact. It extended into many areas. He had true compassion for people.”

DignityUSA expresses its deep condolences to Bishop Gumbleton’s families, friends, and all who were touched or inspired by his ministry.

DignityUSA is the world’s oldest organization of Catholics working for justice, equality and full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our church and society. Dignity/Detroit will mark its 50th anniversary of ministry and service in May 2024.