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US Catholic bishop declares he was sexually abused

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

An auxiliary Roman Catholic bishop in Detroit, Michigan, has declared he was sexually abused as a teenager by a Catholic priest while he attended seminary.

The statement by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, aged 75, is believed to be the first time that such a prominent US Roman Catholic cleric has said he was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest.

Gumbleton said in a 11 January statement he favoured legislation being debated in the state of Ohio that would temporarily waive time limits that have prevented some abuse victims from suing the church for alleged incidents that happened up to 35 years ago.

"I do believe that the abusers need to be exposed," he said.

The Ohio legislation would give claimants a one-year window after it came into force to introduce new suits for past abuse or to reintroduce suits previously filed that had been dismissed because of the current statute of limitations. It would also extend time limits for future abuse cases.

Ohio bishops agree with extending the time limits for future abuse cases but oppose the one-year window for victims to sue over past abuse.

(c) Ecumenical News International

Photo : Bishop Thomas Gumbleton