Advice from Bishop Gumbleton:
Forgiveness and Justice are a Must

VOTF Mid-Michigan sponsored a healing service at which Bishop Gumbleton offered compelling thoughts on the abuse crisis. The following was submitted by VOTF member Harry Grether. Many of the prayers and acknowledgements used during the service were adapted from VOTF Prayerful Voice Liturgies. For more information on the Mid-Michigan affiliate contact

Nearly one hundred and fifty people gathered for a service at Blessed Sacrament Church in Midland on Sunday, April 2nd to seek healing and prayerfully address the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The Healing Prayer Service included a reflection by retired Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit. In January 2006, Bishop Gumbleton spoke in support of legislation that would create a “window” of opportunity for survivors of sexual abuse to have their “day in court.”

In his reflection, Bishop Gumbleton referred to the World Day of Peace statement for January 1, 2002 written by Pope John Paul II after the events of September 11, 2001. In the statement, Pope John Paul II spoke of “a shattered moral order” and explained that the way to restore it is through “a response that combines justice with forgiveness.” Bishop Gumbleton applied the Pope’s words to the abuse scandal in the church and further explained, “From our own hearts, we must learn to reach out to forgive rather than to hold a spirit of vengeance, resentment, or even hatred. That does not mean that we fail to work for justice. In fact, true reconciliation, ‘true peace is the work of justice’… And so to reach out in forgiveness does not exclude, in fact it must be accompanied by, holding people accountable and struggling to make that happen.”

Bishop Gumbleton’s reflection was followed by an “acknowledgement of wrongs” in which the Bishop, a priest from the Diocese of Saginaw, a nun representing all religious, and a member of the laity each acknowledged the sinful acts and criminal offenses that have been committed and asked forgiveness. People in attendance were also invited to come forward for personal prayers.

For many members of the Diocese of Saginaw, the Healing Prayer Service was the first opportunity they had to come together as Church to express their pain and sorrow over the crisis.


In the Vineyard
April 20, 2006
Volume 5, Issue 8
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