7 Questions for Sister Jeannine Gramick

September 17, 2013
Michael O'Loughlin

Michael O’Loughlin

Michael O’Loughlin, who blogs at “Faith Fix” on the Religion News Service website, has recently instituted a new feature called “7 Questions,”  in which he briefly interviews a prominent person on an item of importance.

This week, O’Loughlin has featured New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick. on LGBT ministry and advocacy in the Catholic church and the greater society.  You can read the entire interview here, and I recommend that you do so.   I’ve excerpted two of the questions and answers below to give you a flavor of the interview.

By the way, Bondings 2.0 readers may already be familiar with O’Loughlin’s work.  A few months back he published a wonderful essay about LGBT issues at Catholic colleges, which we noted on this blog.

FROM “7 QUESTIONS FOR SISTER JEANNINE GRAMICK”

Sister Jeannine Gramick

Sister Jeannine Gramick

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, S.L., co-founded New Ways Ministry in 1977 to minister to gay and lesbian Catholics. Her work has been investigated by Vatican officials and was cited in the ongoing investigation of American nuns and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). She was told by officials in Rome in 1999 to stop her work, but she refused, continuing to lead the Catholic organization and advocating for same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues in civil society and the Catholic Church.

O’LOUGHLIN: Catholic bishops in the US today are some of the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage and other civil rights issues important to the LGBT community. Was there institutional support for your work early on?

GRAMICK: We were able at to gather institutional support from bishops. Now it was very quiet support, but let me give you some examples. The first time that the US bishops spoke about homosexuality was in their pastoral letter on moral values that they issued in 1976. There’s a paragraph on homosexuality, which was introduced by an auxiliary bishop in Baltimore whom we spoke with. We influenced him to bring this issue to the attention of the bishops. There’s a paragraph that says homosexuals, like everyone else, deserve compassion, justice, and should have active roles in the Christian community. There were some bishops who would invite us into their dioceses to give workshops, and they came to our workshops and commended us. In fact, when [New Ways Ministry’s co-founder] Fr. Robert Nugent and I were going through our inquisition with the Vatican, we had 20 bishops who wrote supportive letters. They were all bishops in the late 70s and into the 80s, but by the early 90s, the complexion of the US hierarchy began to change because of the appointments by Pope John Paul II.

_____________________________________________________________

O’LOUGHLIN: Some have said that with the leadership of Pope Francis, that the Catholic Church might be emerging from an anti-Vatican II mentally. What would this church look like?

GRAMICK:  We would have pastoral bishops who look to the people, who not just consult the people, but bring the laity into the church’s decision-making. I think these pastoral bishops would have a more modern understanding of governance, that we don’t live in monarchies anymore, or even benevolent dictatorships, that we in the twenty-first century are looking for more democratic forms of governance. If they do that, we’re going to have a very different looking church. Because the polls show us that the laity, at least in the US, are very different from the views of the hierarchy, particularly in sexual matters, financial matters. The laity has a lot of experience that the bishops don’t have, and we have to draw on that experience.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Pope Francis Re-Affirms Vatican Censure of American Nuns

April 15, 2013

LCWRPope Francis has re-affirmed the Vatican’s censure against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which had been investigated by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith under the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Australian newspaper reports:

“Pope Francis has backed a doctrinal report drawn up under his predecessor Benedict XVI that accuses the largest group of nuns in the United States of holding “radical feminist” views, the Vatican says.

“The new Pope has ‘reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform’ for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents around 45,000 US nuns and is known for its social work, the Vatican said.

“The statement said the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ludwig Mueller, met with representatives of the LCWR in the Vatican on Monday in an attempt to smooth over differences.”

The National Catholic Reporter has a full story which gives the background of the case and more details about this latest development.

As we reported last year, the investigation focused on three topics:  support for women’s ordination, support for LGBT issues, and questioning whether salvation exists outside the church.   As far as LGBT issues goes, support for New Ways Ministry was specifically identified as a problem in the “Notification” document that was issued last April.

LCWR today issued the following statement in response to this news:

“On April 15, 2013 Sister Florence Deacon, OSF, LCWR president; Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, LCWR president-elect; and Sister Janet Mock, CSJ, LCWR executive director; met with Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Archbishop Luis Ladaria, secretary of CDF; and other members of the CDF dicastery. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was also present.

“The LCWR officers reviewed the activities of this past year since receiving the report of CDF’s doctrinal assessment of LCWR in April 2012.

“In his opening remarks, Archbishop Müller informed the group the he had met with Pope Francis who ‘reaffirmed the findings of the assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.’ “

“The conversation was open and frank. We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the Church.”

Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle had been appointed by the Vatican to oversee LCWR’s activities, but because of negotiations during the past year, no such oversight had begun.

New Ways Ministry asks you to join us in prayer for women religious in the United States and for the LCWR which is the national association for the leaders of women’s communities. We pray in gratitude for their service and witness, and we pray that they will be allowed to continue their ministry unimpeded.

A list of Bondings 2.0 blog posts about the history of the LCWR case can be found by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Our 500th Post: Time to Pause for Some Levity

January 7, 2013

Bondings 2.0 has reached a milestone today:  this post is our 500th post!!!!!

To celebrate this little landmark, we thought we would provide a break from our usual serious material, and provide some humorous (though relevant) content.

Last week, on January 1st, The Washington Post‘s “Style” section printed it’s annual list of what is “Out” and what is “In,”  an annual inventory of what is hot and what is not in American culture.  Listed among the various fads, TV characters, celebrities, and  the latest political lingo was this one little item of Catholic interest:

Out:  Bishops

In:  Nuns

This note obviously refers to the many stories during 2012, when it was proven time and again that Catholic respect for nuns has been on the increase.  This respect is due in no small part to the fact that many nuns view LGBT issues primarily as justice issues.   In 2012, nuns’ support of LGBT issues contributed to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious’ (LCWR) run-in with the Vatican.  Back in April and May of 2012, when the LCWR story was front-page news, the following cartoon ran in many papers and was circulated widely on Facebook and the internet:

Nuns

We hope these items lightened your day a bit!

–Francis DeBernardo and Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


The Worst of 2012 in Catholic LGBT News

December 30, 2012

thumbs downAs the year 2012 winds to a close, it’s time to review the news of the Catholic LGBT world of the past 12 months. In today’s post, we will look at the  stories of the worst happenings of the past year, and in tomorrow’s post, we will look at the best stories.  Bondings 2.0 asked you for your feedback on what the worst and best news stories of the past year were, so the ranking of these stories is based on your responses.  The percentage following each story is the percentage of people who chose this item as one of their top five. Thank you to all 311 of you who participated.

The Top Ten

1. The Parliament in Uganda, a pre-dominantly Catholic nation, re-introduces a bill to make the death penalty a possible sentence for lesbian and gay people.  16.34%

2. The Vatican censures the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for, among other things, their support of LGBT issues and New Ways Ministry. 15.69%

3. Pope Benedict opens the year by stating that new models of family are a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity.” 14.05%

4. The Knights of Columbus have contributed $6.5 million to oppose marriage equality over the past seven years, according to an Equally Blessed report. 12.09%

5. A Catholic lesbian woman in Maryland is denied communion at her mother’s funeral Mass. 10.13% 

6. The Vatican censures Sister Margaret Farley, a theologian who has supported the moral goodness of gay and lesbian relationships. 6.86%  

7. U.S. bishops attempt to make religious liberty an issue as a way to defeat marriage equality initiatives. 6.54%

8. Minnesota teen is denied confirmation for supporting marriage equality. 4.9%

9 & 10. TIE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Catholic University of America again denies a request for recognition of a gay-straight alliance on campus. 2.29%                               Several Catholic church employees are fired because of their support of marriage equality. 2.29%

Other items:

In several cases, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development withdraws funding from organizations which support LGBT equality. 1.96% 

Catholic theologian Tina Beattie is disinvited from a fellowship appointment at the University of San Diego because of her support of marriage equality. 1.63%  

The U.S. Catholic bishops investigate the Girl Scouts of America for connections to liberal causes, including LGBT equality. 1.63%  

Minnesota’s Archbishop John Nienstedt instructs his priests not to speak publicly in support of marriage equality. 1.63%

A Catholic high school in Indianapolis refuses to call a female-to-male transgender student by his male name. 0.98%

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LCWR Supporters Write to Bishops with Christmas Greetings

December 19, 2012
New Ways Ministry staff write to support LCWR

New Ways Ministry’s Bob Shine and Sister Jeannine Gramick write to support LCWR.

New Ways Ministry staff and local friends sent over two dozen cards in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the nuns who have long championed LGBT persons and organizations, including New Ways Ministry.

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic church reform and social justice organizations including New Ways Ministry, asked Catholics to send Christmas cards and emails to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and the three American bishops (Archbishop Peter Sartain, Bishop Leonard Blair, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki) tasked with implementing the Vatican’s mandate for LCWR.

You can add your support through this link. New Ways Ministry strongly encourages all Catholics and LGBT advocates to send notes expressing your support for LCWR in this Christmas season.

As reported previously, the Vatican’s critique of the nuns partially emerged out of their support for LGBT persons and organizations.  You can find previous Bondings 2.0 posts about the nuns’ controversy by typing “LCWR” into the “Search” box in the right-hand column of this page.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Previous post on the LCWR card writing campaign:

December 5, 2012: Support LCWR with a Christmas Card to the Nuncio and the Bishops!


Support LCWR with a Christmas Card to the Nuncio and the Bishops!

December 5, 2012

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic church reform and social justice organizations including New Ways Ministry, is urging Catholics to send Christmas cards to leading prelates in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

Launched after a harsh Vatican critique of LCWR in early 2012, the Nun Justice Project asks the nuns’ supporters to write with gratitude for the prophetic ministry of the American sisters and to request a withdrawal of the Vatican-imposed mandate against LCWR.

The Project is targeting the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, and the three bishops charged with implementing Vatican-mandated reforms to LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, IL. You can add your support through this link.

As reported previously on Bondings 2.0, with links provided below, the Vatican’s critique of the nuns partially emerged out of their support for LGBT persons and organizations. Specifically named by the Vatican was New Ways Ministry, which has benefited greatly in its 35 years from the unequivocal and sustained support of communities of women religious.

The women religious of LCWR were one of those things the staff of New Ways Ministry was most thankful for this year and we stand with the sisters in these challenging times. New Ways Ministry strongly encourages Catholics and LGBT advocates to write to the bishops and express your support for the nuns who have adamantly struggled for equality within the Church and society.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Previous posts relating to LCWR:

August 11, 2012: LCWR Will Continue to Work Towards Dialogue With Vatican Officials

July 22, 2012: LCWR President Offers “Fresh Air” on Vatican Challenge to Nuns

June 21, 2012: Support the Sisters by Re-Directing Peter’s Pence Donations

June 12, 2012: Report on LCWR Meeting With the CDF at the Vatican

June 1, 2012: LCWR Responds to the Vatican with a Vision of Equality, Hope, and Dialogue

May 28, 2012: Support Our Sisters: Pray at a Vigil!

May 11, 2012: Sister Jeannine, Cardinal Ratzinger, New Ways Ministry, and Solidarity with LCWR

May 1, 2012: Round-up of Actions and Commentary on LCWR

April 23, 2012: Message to Nuns: ‘Be Not Afraid’

April 22, 2012: Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations

April 21, 2012: Support for U.S. Nuns Spreads Quickly Among Catholics and Others

April 20, 2012: Can There Really Be “Collaboration” Between the Vatican and LCWR?

April 19, 2012: Sister Joan Chittister & Sister Simone Campbell Respond to Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns

April 18, 2012: Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns; New Ways Ministry’s Response


Progress Arrives in a Small, Quiet Way

September 23, 2012

Progress on LGBT issues is sometimes announced in bold headlines:  “Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ ”  “Same-sex Marriage Law Passes,”  “First Lesbian Wins State Election,” and other such important milestones.

Sometimes progress is shown in small, quiet ways, too, however.  Such is the case in a National Catholic Reporter online column which appeared this week.  Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo does a bi-weekly interview, exploring how relationships, experiences, faith, and spirituality take shape in an individual’s life.  They are powerful reading due to the immediacy and simplicity of the Q and A format, but also because Sister Camille, a seasoned journalist, knows how to ask penetrating questions that get to the heart of the matter.

Michael Moran and Hiroshi Okamoto

In this week’s installment, Sister Camille interviews Michael Moran, a gay man whose life has been spent in service to others, most frequently to the poor and dispossessed.  One thing that struck me as I read it was that this is an interview with a gay man in a Catholic publication, and yet his sexual orientation was not the focus of the story.  It was simply another facet of who he was.  The interview mentions his partner in the same way that heterosexually married spouses are mentioned in such interviews.

The casual treatment of a gay person’s sexuality in a national Catholic periodical was an inspiring milestone.  It signaled an acceptance and matter-of-factness that was refreshing to read.  Progress had been made in a small, quiet way.

Reading the interview was like a foretaste of the future:  when all will be accepted in our church, and where a person’s relationship with God and acts toward others will be the hallmark of a faith-filled life, not whether the person is male or female, gay or straight.

If you’d like to read the entire interview–and I recommend that you do–you can access it by clicking here.  I offer some excerpts to give you a flavor of this inspiring life story and to illustrate how naturally orientation are treated:

Sister Camille: Although you left the Franciscans, you seem to have carried their values with you through a series of professions. Please trace that journey.

Michael Moran: I was a teacher, guidance counselor, school psychologist, high school principal, campus minister, administrator in agencies serving homeless persons and people living with HIV/AIDS, and a hospital chaplain. I retired in July 2010 when I was 67.

Your impressive academic record cites four universities that prepared you for each of these important works. Is there anyone who shares your life?

I have a partner with whom I am celebrating 20 years of life together. He is Japanese, a former sushi chef who is now a caregiver. He’s a real introvert who balances my off-the-wall extroversion. His calm personality balances my sometimes frenetic activity. We seem to complement one another nicely.

. . . .

What is your favorite scripture passage?

Matthew 25:35-45

Does this passage, Jesus’ blueprint of how to care for our neighbor’s needs, make a difference in your life?

It means everything. I consider it my vocation — a blueprint for how I try to live my life.

What is your image of God?

Jesus on the breadline. I draw it from a Catholic Worker lithograph by artist Fritz Eichenberg. I see God as personally connected to my life and the life of the worlds he identifies with the marginalized and rejected.

. . . .

Michael, what do you want from the church?

Openness and inclusion. More dialogue between hierarchy and the rest of us. Openness to the ordination of women and same-sex marriage; more preaching on topics of social justice; compassion and justice for immigrants. I am concerned about the move away from Vatican II. I am very dismayed by the conflict between the bishops and the LCWR. I believe the sisters are our contemporary prophets and the best hope for the church. They should never compromise their rich values. What would our church be without their dedication? We should not allow the hierarchy to hijack our church.

What would prevent that?

Greater dialogue on all sides, open ears and hearts. I believe our church is missing out on the great contributions and gifts of laypeople and could benefit from encouraging these treasures. I would ordain women and gay people and highlights the leadership of laypeople.

What causes you joy?

That so many talented, sincere Catholics have not abandoned our church, but hang in there and do what they can to reinvent it.

What gives you hope?

Every year, I attend the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress with at least 30,000 other people, many of whom are young Latinos/Latinas. To be present at the rich liturgies, the marvelous keynote address and workshops, to experience the warm camaraderie — this is an experience of church I hope for in the wider church community.

Is there something you wish I had asked?

“Why haven’t you become Episcopalian?” My roots are too deep in Catholicism. My parents would turn over in their graves and my good friends, Patrick and Mary Ellen, would feel abandoned. I still have hope that things will change in our dear church.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LCWR Will Continue to Work Towards Dialogue With Vatican Officials

August 11, 2012

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the American nuns’ organization that was censured by the Vatican earlier this year in part because of their support of LGBT issues, met in St. Louis this past week to discern what their response to the hierarchy’s critique would be.

Sister Pat Farrell, OSF

On Friday, Sister Pat Farrell, OSF, president of LCWR,  announced that the nuns’ group will continue to dialogue with church officials about the situation. The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) summarized Sister Farrell’s statement:

“Reading aloud from a prepared statement, which came after approval from the 900 sisters gathered at the assembly, LCWR’s president, Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell, said LCWR membership wanted to use the occasion of the Vatican order ‘to explain to church leaders LCWR’s mission, values and operating principles.’ ”

NCR explained how the Sisters’ outlined what their next steps will be:

As part of the Vatican’s mandate, LCWR has been ordered to place itself under the authority of an ‘archbishop delegate,’ Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain.

“LCWR national board is expected to meet with Sartain in St. Louis Sunday for about two hours. The focus of that meeting ‘will be on beginning to process with him and see how that unfolds,’ Farrell said at a press conference.

“The LCWR expect ‘open and honest dialogue’ with Sartain that ‘may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church,’ the statement said.

“ ‘Religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised,’ it said.

“ ‘The assembly instructed the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue,’ the statement said. ‘The officers will proceed with these discussions as long as possible, but will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.’ ”

New Ways Ministry’s Sister Jeannine Gramick (co-founder, right) and Francis DeBernardo (executive director, left) pose with LCWR president emerita, Mercy Sister Theresa Kane (center) at New Ways Ministry’s exhibit table at the LCWR Assembly in St. Louis. New Ways Ministry works for justice and equality for LGBT Catholics.

Sister Farrell explained to NCR her hopes for the discussion between the LCWR national board and Archbishop Sartain:

“Asked what she hopes to receive in dialogue with Sartain, Farrell said LCWR wants ‘to be recognized and be understood as equal in the church.’

” ‘And really we do want to come to the point of having an environment … for the entire Catholic church to search for truth together, to talk about issues that are very complicated. And there is not the environment right now.’

“The Vatican’s critique of LCWR said the Vatican congregation identified a ‘prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith’ in the group’s programs and ‘corporate dissent’ in the group regarding the church’s sexual teachings.

Farrell said during questioning from the press that ‘dialogue on doctrine is not going to be our starting point.’

“ ‘Our starting point will be about our own life and about our understanding of religious life,’ Farrell continued. ‘And the documents, in our view, misrepresent that.’ ”

Sister Farrell expressed hope that dialogue “may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church.”

During her Presidential Address to the LCWR meeting, Sister Farrell offered the Sisters’ leaders six ways forward in their continuing discussions with church officials:  through contemplation, with a prophetic voice, through solidarity with the marginalized, through community, non-violently, and by living in joyful hope.  

She closed her address by stating:

“We stand in the power of the dying and rising of Jesus. I hold forever in my heart an expression of that from the days of the dictatorship in Chile: ‘Pueden aplastar algunas flores, pero no pueden detener la primavera.’ ‘They can crush a few flowers but they can’t hold back the springtime.’

Support for LCWR outside the Assembly hotel in St. Louis.

The Nun Justice Project, a coalition of Catholic groups supporting the LCWR, issued a statement praising Sister Farrell’s remarks and LCWR’s response:

 “Today, the sisters stood in their integrity and, once again, responded to the needs of the people,” said Erin Saiz Hanna, spokesperson for The Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of the Women’s Ordination Conference. “As a young woman of faith, I find hope in their statement for the role of women in our church, and that dialogue is possible.”

“We commend the sisters on their prayerful discernment and response to the Vatican,” stated Jim FitzGerald, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of Call To Action. “Their actions speak to their faithfulness and the reasons why Catholics across the country support them.” 

The Nun Justice Project is comprised of American Catholic Council, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church , Call To Action, Catholics for Choice, CORPUS, DignityUSA, Federation of Christian Ministries, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, Quixote Center, RAPPORT, Voice of the Faithful, WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual, and Women’s Ordination Conference

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LCWR President Offers “Fresh Air” on Vatican Challenge to Nuns

July 22, 2012

 

 

The Vatican’s critique of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the association of the heads of Catholic nuns’ communities in the United States, focused on the organization’s approach to three issues:  openness to women’s ordination, whether salvation exists outside the Church, and support for LGBT issues generally (with support for New Ways Ministry noted particularly).

Sister Pat Farrell, OSF

The LCWR’s annual assembly will be coming up in the second week of August.  In advance of that meeting and to discuss the Vatican’s challenge, Sister Pat Farrell, OSF, the current President of LCWR, sat down this week for interview on WHYY’s popular syndicated radio talk show, Fresh Air. A report on the interview, along with excerpted passages, is available on the website of Vermont Public Radio.  The report notes:

“. . .the nuns said the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of the group was based on ‘unsubstantiated accusations’ and may ‘compromise the ability of female nuns to ‘fulfill their mission.’

” ‘I would say the mandate is more critical of positions we haven’t taken than those we have taken,’ says Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the Leadership Conference. ‘As I read that document, the concern is the issues we tend to be more silent about when the bishops are speaking out very clearly about some things. There are issues about which we think there’s a need for a genuine dialogue, and there doesn’t seem to be a climate of that in the church right now.’

“Farrell tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that the leadership organization is currently gathering the perspectives of all of its members in preparation for its national assembly in August.

” ‘We’re hoping to come out of that assembly with a much clearer direction about [the Vatican's decision], and that’s when the national board and presidency can proceed,’ she says.

“Among the options on the table, she says, are fully complying with the mandate, not complying with the mandate or seeing if the Vatican will negotiate with them.”

” ‘In my mind, [I want] to see if we can somehow, in a spirited, nonviolent strategizing, look for maybe a third way that refuses to define the mandate and the issues in such black and white terms,’ she says.”

Included among the excerpts on the website are the following three sections:

On questioning doctrine within the Catholic Church

“The question is, ‘Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?’ That’s what we’re asking. … I think one of our deepest hopes is that in the way we manage the balancing beam in the position we’re in, if we can make any headways in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders along with rank-and-file members can raise questions openly and search for truth freely, with very complex and swiftly changing issues in our day, that would be our hope. But the climate is not there. And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue.”

On their options

“We’re not talking about the risk of excommunication or leaving the church. That’s not our intent. We’re talking about the Vatican’s dealing with a national organization, not with specific religious congregations or individual religious. The one and only underlying option for us is to respond with integrity with however we proceed. That is our absolute bottom line in this. Some of the options would be to just comply with the mandate that’s been given to us. Or to say we can’t comply with this and see what the Vatican does with that. Or to remove ourselves and form a separate organization.”

On the criticism from the Vatican regarding human sexuality

“We have been, in good faith, raising concerns about some of the church’s teachings on sexuality. The problem being that the teaching and interpretation of the faith can’t remain static and really needs to be reformulated, rethought in light of the world we live in. And new questions and new realities [need to be addressed] as they arise. And if those issues become points of conflict, it’s because Women Religious stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives. That is our gift to the church. Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That’s where we spend our days.”

Other excerpts on the website cover the following topics: roles in the church, women’s ordination, the Vatican’s phrase “radical feminist themes, and abortion.

Previous Bondings 2.0 posts (selected) on the LCWR controversy:

April 18, 2012: Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns; New Ways Ministry’s Response

April 19, 2012: Sister Joan Chittister & Sister Simone Campbell Respond to Vatican Action Against U.S. Nuns

April 21, 2012: Support for U.S. Nuns Spreads Quickly Among Catholics and Others

April 22, 2012: Comments on LCWR Action from National Catholic LGBT Organizations

May 11, 2012: Sister Jeannine, Cardinal Ratzinger, New Ways Ministry, and Solidarity with LCWR

June 1, 2012: LCWR Responds to the Vatican with a Vision of Equality, Hope, and Dialogue

June 12, 2012: Report on LCWR Meeting With the CDF at the Vatican

June 21, 2012: Support the Sisters by Re-Directing Peter’s Pence Donations

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

Support for U.S. Nuns Spreads Quickly Among Catholics and Others

 


Support the Sisters by Re-Directing Peter’s Pence Donations

June 21, 2012

NunJustice.org, the coalition of Catholic organizations which has formed to support Catholic nuns in the wake of the Vatican’s challenge to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, is recommending an alternative donation option to a popular Catholic Church fundraising project.

On June 24th, the Vatican will be sponsoring its annual Peter’s Pence, a worldwide collection of donations from Catholics to support the pope’s private charities.  The NunJustice.org coalition is asking Catholics to donate, inste ad, to a community of nuns in their local area, as a sign of support for the nuns, and a sign that Catholics disagree with the Vatican’s critique of women’s religious life in the U.S.

The NunJustice.org  website is NOT collecting any funds for this effort, but they are asking Catholics who donate to a local women’s religious community to visit the website and let them know how much was donated, as a way for them to track how much money was actually raised by donating to local women’s communities.

The website also has a comment about the lack of transparency concerning Peter’s Pence donations:

“Jason Berry’s recent book Render Unto Rome: the Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church exposes a shocking misuse of charitable donations by people who administer the finances of the Catholic Church. An investigative journalist, Berry’s meticulous documentation reveals that Peter’s Pence donations are frequently used to cover Vatican operating costs even though Catholics are told the money will be used for the Pope’s private charities. There is no public accounting of Peter’s Pence contributions as would be expected of other charitable organizations in the US and around the world.”

The Vatican’s critique of LCWR was in part motivated because of the Sisters’ public support of LGBT ministry and justice generally, and of New Ways Ministry in particular.

NunJustice.org has already succeeded in collecting over 57,000 signatures, one for each of the nuns in the U.S., on a petition against the Vatican’s challenge to LCWR.  The coalition presented these signatures to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at their recent semi-annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.  You can read about the petition delivery in a New York Times article here.

Please be as generous as you can to your local sisters for two important reasons:  1) to thank them for their presence and ministry in our church; 2) to show the Vatican that Catholic support is with the Sisters during this important crisis.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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