Detroit-area Bishop calls for Catholics to refuse to participate in US wars


  • mike.benedetti, Flickr Creative Commons
  • Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.

As the U.S. comes off of a tense standoff with Iran, a Detroit-area Bishop known for speaking truth to power has now set his sights on the prolonged U.S. wars in the Middle East.

Writing in CounterPunch, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of Detroit has called for Catholics to refuse to participate in further U.S. wars. In his argument, Gumbleton, 89, cites the release of the Afghanistan Papers, a massive trove of documents published by the Washington Post late last year that shows how U.S. officials went to great lengths to mislead the public about the war in Afghanistan.

Gumbleton writes:

The U.S. has killed untold numbers of civilians by unmanned aerial drones, bombing raids, cruise missile attacks, and special operations missions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia—also in Syria and Yemen. The U.S. toppled the Libyan government leading to years of violent chaos. In all of these places, United States war-making has helped cause humanitarian catastrophes.

Rather than follow the lead of the Vatican and other states that have signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the U.S. now exacerbates a new nuclear arms race by upgrading every warhead and delivery system, along with every production and command and control site in the nuclear weapons complex.

Gumbleton ends with a call to U.S. Catholics to implement radical acts of anti-war protest.

"I call on Catholics in the military, including chaplains, as well as all who work for the military or any branch of the armaments industry, to heed Pope Francis’ call to set aside the futility of war," he writes. "All Catholics should refuse to kill and should refuse cooperation with United States wars. Catholic taxpayers should make every effort to avoid paying for war and weapons. Rather, embrace Jesus, who calls us to love our enemies, put up the sword, and take up the cross."

Gumbleton has long spoken out against the war in Iraq, getting arrested for peacefully protesting outside the White House in 2003. In 2006, he made headlines after he alleged he was sexually abused by a priest as an adolescent while in the seminary. As a result, the Church forced him to resign from his role at St. Leo's in Detroit in 2007.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.