The Detroit Free-Press announced (blared, even) in this morning's editions that the Holy See would accept the resignation of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton as auxiliary of Detroit today, on his 76th birthday. Gumbleton has also written a letter to be given to his parishioners this weekend, published in today's paper, saying that his resignation was accepted "On Thursday of this past week," i.e. today.
Only problem is: It didn't happen. No announcements of anything came from Rome this morning, let alone the Gumbleton stuff.....
Gumbleton's letter indicates that, counterintuitively, he wanted to keep sticking around:
"If anything, this resignation as an auxiliary to Cardinal Maida will make him even freer than he was before to travel, to speak and to write," the Rev. Thomas Reese, a California-based scholar who is an expert on church structure, said Wednesday.
The major question that emerged Wednesday evening was whether Maida will allow Gumbleton to continue as pastor of St. Leo's Catholic Church on Detroit's west side. The parish has become a haven for peace activists. Around the world, Gumbleton's weekly homilies are read on a Web site dubbed the Peace Pulpit.
In a statement late Wednesday to members of St. Leo's parish, Gumbleton indicated that his resignation is not related to his recent revelation that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a teenager or his highly controversial call for lawmakers to open up past cases of priestly abuse to civil action.
"I will continue to teach, preach, celebrate sacraments and carry on my work for justice and peace wherever I am called to do so," Gumbleton said in an open letter to parishioners. "This of course includes as a priority my ministry at St. Leo's."
However, archdiocesan spokesman Ned McGrath would not confirm that Maida will keep Gumbleton at St. Leo's, an appointment he has held since 1983.
"It's up to the cardinal now," McGrath said. "I don't know about staying pastor at St. Leo's. They'll have to have discussions about that."
During the past year I have carried on correspondence with Cardinal Giovanni Re, the head of the Congregation for Bishops, regarding this request. However, some time ago he indicated that my request to defer my resignation was not acceptable. Finally, I decided to end the discussion. On January 21, 2006, I wrote to Pope Benedict asking him to accept my resignation from my office as auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Maida.Hmmmm.... Any coincidence that NCR's cover this week is on women's ordination?