Washington, DC - July 13, 1999 - DignityUSA is dismayed and angry at the decision of Vatican authorities to "permanently prohibit from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons" Sister Jeanine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent co-founders of New Ways Ministry.
DignityUSA Executive Director, Charles L. Cox said, "The efforts of Sister Jeanine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent to build bridges of understanding and reconciliation between lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons and the Catholic Church is to be commended. Unfortunately, their message of compassion and inclusion has fallen on deaf ears at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Cox went on to say further, "The CDF's continued use of "intrinsic evil" to describe homosexual acts, and implicitly homosexual persons, is a chilling reminder of the Church's on-going attempt to marginalize and stigmatize pastoral care for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons."
Echoing Cox's comments, DignityUSA President Robert Miailovich said, "That the Vatican through the CDF, would seek to prohibit the pastoral work of Sister Gramick and Father Nugent runs counter to the Church's clear teaching that homosexual people are the "beloved creation of God." Miailovich also said, "As tragic as the decision of the CDF is, the greater tragedy lies in the future when young men and women come to understand their sexual orientation, and learn that they are truly strangers in the pews who are asked not to tell who they are or whom they love."
Sister Gramick and Father Nugent are the co-founders of New Ways Ministry in Mt. Rainer, Maryland. As teachers, authors, and editors of several publications concerning homosexuality and the Catholic Church, Sister Gramick and Father Nugent have been a source of learning and inspiration to an untold number of people seeking to reconcile their sexual orientation with their spiritual heritage. Their outreach to parents of gay and lesbian children has been very important, especially in light of the October 1997 release of Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers. Despite what happens in the future, whether the prohibition is effective or not, and what career steps Sister Gramick and Father Nugent may make, we echo Galileo's aside of "Yet, is round," even as he was forced to recant before a church tribunal. The Church may try to stifle the speaker but the truth will yet remain.
The work of Sister Gramick and Father Nugent is good work; it is necessary work; it is holy work. The members of Dignity wish them well in the long time to come. We thank them for their ministry and we pray for them at this critical time.
DignityUSA remains committed to serving the spiritual needs of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons, and our families and friends. Our hope is that despite the sad news concerning the work of Sister Gramick and Father Nugent, that bishops, priests and pastoral counselors will continue the important work of ministering to homosexual persons. DignityUSA believes that it is only through honest dialogue and mutual respect that real change can be achieved. To that end, DignityUSA invites the U.S. Catholic Bishops to recall their 1997 offer of an "outstretched hand" and meet with us to discuss our mutual interests and concerns.
DignityUSA, founded in 1969, is the nation's largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, and their loved ones, families and friends.