In April 2022, at the 45th anniversary conference of Pax Christi Michigan outside of Detroit, members of Pax Christi Michigan with representatives of the Pax Christi USA National Council and staff, formally recognized Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace and founding member of Pax Christi USA, as Pax Christi USA’s Bishop-President, Emeritus. The in-person celebration had been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, following the original announcement made by the Pax Christi USA National Council at their January 2020 meeting in Washington, D.C.
At the time of the announcement, then-National Council chair Bob Shine wrote that “Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has been named Bishop-President, Emeritus of Pax Christi USA in honor of his decades-long commitment to the Catholic peace movement.
“Bishop Gumbleton’s involvement with Pax Christi USA dates back to his crucial role as a co-founder in 1972. He was one of the few U.S. bishops willing to condemn the Vietnam War at the time. In the intervening years, Bishop Gumbleton has advocated courageously for the cause of peace with justice, work rooted deeply in nonviolence. He has traveled the world to accompany peoples mired in conflict and violence, all the while condemning publicly the militarism behind so much of their suffering. He was instrumental in the U.S. bishops’ 1983 peace pastoral.
“Beyond the cause of peace, Bishop Gumbleton has been an advocate for many other justice issues. He stood against his own archbishop’s decision to close parishes attended predominantly by communities of color, and has been a strong advocate for racial justice in his hometown of Detroit and elsewhere. He has been a healing presence to people harmed by the institutional Catholic Church, including to LGBTQ people and their families and to survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.”
Shine asserted how Bishop Gumbleton exemplifies those “credible witnesses,” people who refuse to be indifferent and who choose to risk for the Gospel, of which Pope Francis has said our world is in great need.
“Few Christians living today offer as credible a witness as Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, his life a masterclass in how to pursue justice even when it hurts … in the wounded church and the troubled world we inhabit, studying the credible witness of one who refused to be indifferent and risked so much for the Gospel is precisely what we need to be people of hope and action,” Shine stated.
The recognition of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton at the Pax Christi Michigan state conference included testimony to his long-time witness by Pax Christi USA Ambassadors of Peace Bill and Mary Carry, Pax Christi Michigan state coordinator Mary Hanna, and a rousing rendition of Tina Turner’s “You’re Simply the Best”, performed by Pax Christi Michigan’s Purple Ribbon for Peace Award recipient Therese Terns. Many thanks to all who participated and were present!