NEWS NOTES: January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012

Here are links to some items you might find of interest:

1) In an announcement in all parish bulletins this past weekend, Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Satrain called on Catholics to contact their state legislators to oppose the marriage equality bill there.  Details can be found in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer  blog post,  “Archbishop Sartrain: ‘Protect Marriage.’ “

2) The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports “In Haugen casts key marriage equality vote” that Washington State’s marriage equality bill has received the 25 needed votes for passage in the Senate.  Passage in the state’s House is expected, and Catholic Governor Christine Gregoire has pledged to sign the bill.

3) Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, a Catholic, has introduced a marriage equality bill to the state legislature, reports the Baltimore Sun in “O’Malley introduces same-sex marriage bill.”  Strengthened exemptions for religious institutions distinguish it from last year’s bill, which was tabled.  The Sun also reports that “O’Malley will back transgender rights bill,”  too.

4) The first gay man nominated to the New Jersey Supreme Court was named by Governor Chris Christie, a Catholic.   In “Christie Names a Gay Man and an Asian for the Top Court,” the New York Times reports that Christie, who has opposed marriage equality in his state denied that this pro-gay appointment is any indication that he will support marriage equality in this legislative session.

5) The Catholic Catechism’s directive that lesbian/gay people ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ is cited in a Malta Times article, “NGOs call for ‘hate crime’ to also cover anti-gay acts.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


A Habit of LGBT Equality

January 24, 2012

Over the past three years, nuns’ communities in the US have been “visited” by a Vatican appointee to assess their lives and missions.  Though the Vatican said that the reason for this visitation was the welfare of the sisters, Mary Johnson, a writer for Bloomberg.com and a former nun,  has another theory:  “American nuns frighten them.”

In an article entitled “Nuns in Street Clothing Shouldn’t Frighten Vatican,”Johnson examines how and why American nuns have been in the forefront of justice issues in society and in the church.  Singled out for special mention is a nun very dear to New Ways Ministry:

Sister Jeannine Gramick

“Liberal American sisters are courageous women. Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, continues to advocate for gay rights despite official church efforts to silence her.”

It’s no secret–though it’s not well-known, either–that high on the list of Catholic supporters of LGBT equality are nuns.  Communities of women religious have consistently been supportive of education, dialogue, and justice activities for LGBT people since the late 1970s.

After Vatican II, when nuns’ communities re-evaluated their charisms and ministries, they quickly realized that the church had long neglected lesbian/gay rights and that this was an issue that cried for justice.  They responded positively and actively.

Johnson’s article  highlights the reason that nuns can be so steadfast:

“American nuns don’t want to fight the official church, but neither are they likely to sacrifice the integrity of their consciences for the sake of peace.”

At New Ways Ministry,  we are indebted to our Sisters for financial, spiritual, and practical support over our 35 year history.  More New Ways Ministry programs have been held in convents and motherhouses than in any other type of Catholic facility by far.

Their support continues. For our upcoming Seventh National Symposium, 23 women’s religious groups have publicly endorsed the program.  20 more have provided financial and practical support for the program.  The success of the Symposium is always due to the great publicity and promotion of the event that sisters’ communities do for it. For all of our programs, the largest number of participants tend to be nuns.

The Catholic LGBT community–and New Ways Ministry, in particular–is deeply indebted to the Sisters of the church.  We should repay them with our undying support and with the greatest gift with which they have blessed us:  their unceasing prayer.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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