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:
“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