Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, 75, revealed last week that a priest inappropriately touched him while he was a student at a Catholic high school in the mid-1940s.
The revelation came as he spoke in Columbus, Ohio, in support of Ohio legislation to extend the statute of limitations on lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.
Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the Detroit archdiocese, said Sunday that Gumbleton himself authorized church lawyers to invoke a statute of limitations to block lawsuits that claimed he and others failed to monitor a priest accused of abusing children.
"I'm surprised by Bishop Gumbleton's stand on this," McGrath said in Monday's Detroit Free Press. "He's authorized the archdiocese lawyers to use the statute of limitations stance on his defense."
Gumbleton said the legal defense was invoked "without my knowledge."
Speaking after Sunday Mass at St. Leo's, the Detroit parish where he serves, Gumbleton said the church should worry more about victim outreach and less about guarding its money.
"If it costs us lots in material goods, the spiritual purification will be worth it," Gumbleton said. "The more I hear from these survivors, the more widespread I think this is."