New Ways Ministry Launches Symposium Website!

New Ways Ministry has launched a website with information and registration materials for its Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss:  LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago.

newwayssymp-draft_03-01By going to www.Symposium2017.org, you will find all the information you will need about speakers, program, schedule, travel and hotel discounts–and even a form to register online!

Sign-up by December 31, 2016 to receive a substantial discount on the registration fee!

The Eighth National Symposium is looking to be the best one ever!  With Pope Francis in the Vatican, we are living in a new moment in our Church.  We’ve seen the opening of a dialogue on LGBT issues, but we’ve also seen that repressive practices and policies continue, too.  How to make sense of this new situation?

The program is designed for church leaders and ministers, parents, LGBT people, members of religious communities, and all who are interested in building a more welcoming and inclusive Catholic Church.

Our plenary speakers will cover some of the most pressing topics of our day:

  • Lisa Fullam, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, will discuss “Sexual Ethics and Same-Sex Marriage”
  • Leslie GriffinUniversity of Nevada, Las Vegas, Law School, will examine “Religious Liberty, Employment, and LGBT Issues”
  • Rev. Bryan Massingale, Fordham University, will speak about “Pope Francis, Social Ethics, and LGBT People”
  • Frank Mugisha, Sexual Minorities Uganda, will report on “The Catholic Church, Criminalization Laws and the LGBT Experience in Uganda”
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Lisa Fullam
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Leslie Griffin
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Rev. Bryan Massingale
Frank Mugisha of Uganda poses in front of a painting of Robert F. Kennedy, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Frank Mugisha

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, the weekend includes some exciting prayer experiences:

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Bishop John Stowe
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Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
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Sr. Simone Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to these main events,  the symposium includes break-out sessions on the following topics:

  • transgender and intersex family issues
  • youth and LGBT topics
  • gay priests
  • lesbian nuns
  • LGBT ministry in the Hispanic community
  • parish outreach
  • LGBT church worker justice

And, of course, there will be opportunities to network with hundreds of Catholics from many different parts of the U.S. and the globe about the challenges and joys of advocating for LGBT people.

Our website, www.Symposium2017.org, has all the information you need to plan your participation at the symposium.  If you have any additional questions, please contact our office at info@NewWaysMinistry.org or (301)277-5674.

Register today to reserve a space and to get a great discount!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 6, 2016

 

 

 

Five Years–And Counting!!!

Time really does fly when you’re having fun!  I can’t believe that it was five years ago today that I sat down at my computer at New Ways Ministry and typed into Google the words “how to start a blog.”  I spent the day learning about platforms and scheduling, and by the time 5:00 p.m.rolled around, I had my very first post for a blog I dubbed Bondings 2.0.  The Bondings part of the name was taken from New Ways Ministry’s paper newsletter, published continuously since 1978.  The 2.0 part was a nod to the fact that this was a social media version of Catholic LGBT news.

I started the blog that day with the hope that I would post something three times a week.  However, I so much enjoyed the work of blogging that I found myself posting every single day.  And for the past five years, we have put up at least one post (sometimes two or three) every single day.  This isn’t just bragging about our epistolary stamina.  The fact that there is something to post every single day for five years attests to the fact that Catholic LGBT news and opinion has blossomed and is one of the main stories of our contemporary world.

One of the main joys of this work is that I get to interact with wonderful people:  our readers!  Your comments on individual posts have helped to open my eyes to perspectives and information that are truly enlightening.  I’m grateful, too, to the many readers who send me “tips” in the form of news links to articles I might have missed.

I also have been blessed with great co-workers over the years who have kept this blog vibrant.  Of course, at the top of this list is Bob Shine, a tireless writer and investigator who does the lion’s share of the work in producing posts week in and week out.  And of course, my colleagues at New Ways Ministry who have written several posts over the years–Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Matt Myers, Cynde Nordone, Glen Bradley–have also added to this great conversation.

Last, but not least, are our guest contributors, too many to mention by name, but whose writings have brought new dimensions to this ongoing conversation.  Our latest guest contributor debuted yesterday, in an Advent Scriptural reflection series written by young LGBTQ theologians.

Only twice a year do we come to our readers and ask for financial support for this project.  Tomorrow is “Giving Tuesday,”  a day set aside to make holiday donations to non-profit organizations and charities.  We would be deeply honored if you could assist this blog project by making New Ways Ministry one of your charitable donations this year.   You can donate by clicking here, filling out the form, and writing “blog” in the comments box at the end of the form.  You don’t have to wait until Tuesday to make your donation.  Do it today so that you don’t forget!   Of course, your donation is tax-deductible.

If you prefer not to donate on-line, you can call our office 301-277-5674, during business hours, Eastern U.S. time, and we can take your credit card information over the phone.  Or you can send a check made to “New Ways Ministry” to 4012 – 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712.  However you decide to donate, your gift is tax-deductible.

At this anniversary time, we also like to let folks know about our criteria for approving “Comments” to individual blog posts.  Some of the criteria are very common to many blogs and some are particular to ours. Here are the guidelines that we use:

Common to many blogs;
1. No obscenities or anything offensive
2. No personal attacks or name-calling
3. Be relevant to the material posted
4. Argue politely
5. Avoid sarcasm
6. Nothing that is patently self-promotional
Particular guidelines for our blog:
1.  Nothing that would be pastorally harmful to our readers (e.g.,  “you are going to hell,”  “God hates gays,”  etc.)
2.  No condemning people–even people who are anti-LGBT
3.  No blanket calls to leave the Catholic Church, or invitations to join other churches (e.g, “All LGBT people should leave Catholicism,”  “I don’t know why you all don’t become Protestant”).

Blogging has been a wonderful adventure these past five years!  Each day, we learn something new.  We look forward to many more adventurous years with you in the future!  Thanks so much for being a part of this online community!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 28, 2016

Counting Our Blessings and Giving Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving to all Bondings 2.0 readers! We hope that you have much to be thankful for this year.

At New Ways Ministry, we are particularly grateful for all those people around the globe who support us spiritually, financially, and in many other ways great and small.  We are also thankful for all our blog readers and commenters.  Your thoughts and reflections make this site a wonderful place for discussing Catholic LGBT issues.

Our tradition on Bondings 2.0 for Thanksgiving is to gather thoughts of gratitude New Ways Ministry’s volunteers, board members, and staff. Their reflections are below.

What are you thankful for this year, especially items that may pertain to Catholic LGBT issues? We invite you to share your items in the “Comments” section of this post.

Glen Bradley, Staff Associate:

I am thankful for all the inclusive and supportive people in my life who helped me find God’s love for everyone, including myself.  I am also thankful for all the safe spaces that our LGBTQ+ siblings and allies build with great devotion, particularly those prophetic spaces in Catholicism.

Mary and Joseph Byers, Board Members:

This Thanksgiving, as all other Thanksgivings and always,  we are grateful for our blended family of gay sons and straight daughters.  They are a blessing to us and each other.  Together they bring joy to our family and a shining example to others.

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director:

This year, I am thankful that so many Catholics are speaking out about LGBT equality.  I’ve worked in this field for 24 years, and I can’t remember a year when so much discussion has happened as in this past year.  We may not have achieved our dream of full equality in church and society, but I think we have reached a point where the discussion cannot be stopped.

Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, Co-Founder:

I am grateful that Pope Francis recently named three U.S. cardinals who smell like the sheep and are not afraid to defend their sheep. I’m thinking, in particular about Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s new Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, who said he does not agree with Archbishop Chaput’s guidelines that exclude LGBT people from church ministries and same-gender couples from Communion. These “Francis bishops” give me hope for the future of the Church and LGBT ministry.

Brother Brian McLauchlin, SVD, Volunteer:

I am grateful for Church hierarchy who are willing to speak out on behalf of LGBT people and issues.  Bishop McElroy of San Diego, for instance, who named the anti-gay prejudice in connection to the Pulse nightclub massacre.  In general, I think Bishop McElroy is someone who would be willing and able to dialogue on LGBT issues.  Also, I am grateful that noted members of the clergy, like James Martin, SJ, speak out in favor of LGBT people.  I pray that next year, I will be even more grateful that more and more bishops and members of the hierarchy will address LGBT issues and open themselves up to constructive dialogue.
Robert Shine, Social Media Coordinator:
I am grateful for:
1. Younger LGBTQ theologians who are helping to guide the church into healthier and more liberating understanding of gender and sexuality;
2. Transgender Catholics who call our church to greater fidelity to the Gospel by courageously sharing their stories and educating others on trans realities;
3. Catholic youth and young adults who reject treatment from church leaders that is anything but fully equal and respectful of LGBTQ people, and seek a church that is “a home for all.”

Vern Smith, Volunteer:

I am thankful for those individuals who, when treated with bigotry and injustice by the church hierarchy, have spoken out and told their stories.  Many have lost their jobs or their ministries merely because they were married or came out as LGBT+.  I have heard so many painful, touching, and courageous stories by those who experienced terrible treatment by their official church.  They are powerful, important stories that must be heard. I am so thankful that the spirit has moved them to speak out honestly, in their own voices, bringing light to the implications of hierarchical actions.

Cristina Traina, Board Member:

I am grateful for :

1.LGBTQ Catholic groups, both local and national, especially the group at my parish, St. Nicholas, in Evanston, Illinois.  Thanks to you all for your faithfulness, joy, hospitality, and visible involvement in parish life;

2. Catholic theologians and ethicists, because throughout Catholic history major changes in official teaching have come after they have laid the groundwork for it;
3. Gay and lesbian parents, whose matter-of-fact involvement in the church life is a quiet witness of hope.

Pilgrimage of Mercy Stressed Reconciliation Between LGBT People and Bishops

Last month’s “Pilgrimage of Mercy,” sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame and St. Mary College, was a plea for extending mutual mercy between the LGBT community and the institutional Catholic Church.

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Piligrimage organizer Greg Bourke welcomes the participants. (All photos in this post by Glen Bradley/New Ways Ministry)

The march, which began in New York City’s Central Park, paused for a prayer rally at Columbus Circle, and concluded by participating in the Sunday liturgy at St. Paul the Apostle parish, attracted about 50 participants.   Greg Bourke, a gay Notre Dame alumnus who organized the event, explained to The Observer the intention of the program:

” ‘What we wanted to show with this pilgrimage is that being merciful and forgiving is an interactive process,’ Bourke said. ‘We extended our forgiveness and mercy to the Catholic Church, and we ask for those same things in return.’

“Bourke said the rally was meant to be ‘an expression of faithful LGBTQ Catholics.’

” ‘There are many of us, and Pope Francis has started to push that door open for us,’ he said, referring to the statements the pope has made on LGBTQ issues.”

He expressed a similar sentiment to The National Catholic Reporter:

“We are both seeking mercy from our church, and in return we offer mercy and forgiveness to all those in our Church who have not been so gracious to us in the past,” said Bourke.

The idea of LGBT people and the institutional church showing mutual respect to one another was the theme of Jesuit Fr. James Martin’s talk when he accepted New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award last Sunday.  You can read his talk by clicking here.

Bourke also recalled Notre Dame’s legendary president, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, as an inspiration for the event:

” ‘By supporting the civil rights movement among conservative circles, he [Hesburgh]was ahead of the curve in many ways,’ Bourke said. ‘Now, he is respected and admired for that courage.’

“Bourke said a main theme in the day’s speeches was the need for mutual reconciliation. 

” ‘We all need to give a little and work better at understanding each other,’ he said. ‘We need to find that area we can agree on.’ . . . 

” ‘We need someone willing to take a controversial stand, someone within Catholic leadership and the Catholic community,’ Bourke said. ‘Notre Dame could do that.’ “

The event was modeled on a similar Pilgrimage of Mercy in Louisville, Kentucky, held earlier this year.

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Phil Donahue addresses the pilgrims.

At the New York event, legendary television talk show host Phil Donahue was one of the speakers at the prayer rally.  Other speakers included: Jack Bergen, of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College; Chris Hartman of Catholics for Fairness; Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry executive director; Fr. Warren Hall, an openly priest from the Newark archdiocese who was recently because of his support for LGBT issues; Dave Swinarski, a St. Paul’s parishioner and a leader of their OUT at St.Paul’s LGBT ministry; and Holly Cargill-Cramer and Rosemary Grebin Palms of Fortunate Families.

Legendary television talk show host Phil Donahue was one of the speakers at the prayer rally.  Other speakers included: Jack Bergen, of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College; Chris Hartman of Catholics for Fairness; Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry executive director; Fr. Warren Hall, an openly priest from the Newark archdiocese who was recently because of his support for LGBT issues; Dave Swinarski, a St. Paul’s parishioner and a leader of their OUT at St.Paul’s LGBT ministry; and Holly Cargill-Cramer and Rosemary Grebin Palms of Fortunate Families.

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Francis DeBernardo speaks at rally. Pilgrim Leonard Discenza listens in background.

At the rally, DeBernardo called for greater conversation between bishops and LGBT people:

“This morning, all of us gathered here renew our call to our church, and especially to our church’s leaders, the U.S. bishops, to reject homophobic and transphobic words and deeds of the past, and instead to reach out in a spirit of mercy to LGBT Catholics who are an important but often under-recognized blessing to our Church.  And we ask LGBT Catholics to show mercy to church leaders for past harm, to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to them, just as Jesus offered forgiveness and reconciliation to Peter who denied him three times.

“In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we ask the bishops to remember the words of Pope Francis, spoken in a homily soon after his election in 2013, when he said that from Jesus ‘we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation.’  This year of mercy is a time to begin the conversation. It’s a time for both the church’s bishops and LGBT Catholics to sit down together in humble and honest dialogue. May the Spirit of God open minds, hearts, ears, and mouths so that this dialogue can take place with understanding and charity.”

The Pilgrimage was co-sponsored by the following organizations: Catholics for FairnessGLAAD, HRC, New Ways Ministry, Equality Blessed, Dignity/USADignity/New York, Freedom for All Americans, Out At St Paul, Fortunate Families and Believe Out Loud.

–Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 3, 2016

 

“There Is No Place for Homophobia,” Pope Francis Told Gay Former Student

Pope Francis explicitly rejected homophobia in his pastoral ministry, according to the pope’s former student and friend Yayo Grassi.

 

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Yayo Grassi

In impromptu remarks during New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award Ceremony on Sunday, Grassi, who made headlines in 2015 because of his personal meeting with Pope Francis in Washington, DC,  shared about his relationship with the pope and Francis’ approach to homosexuality, saying:

 

“I have known Pope Francis since he was my teacher, my professor in high school when I was seventeen years old. I know that he knew then that I was gay, and we have been friends ever since. I visited him in Rome and then we visited when he came to Washington. He met who was at the time my boyfriend both times, and he’s always asking about him.”

Grassi and his partner met with Francis in Washington, D.C. during the 2015 papal visit to the United States last fall. This private meeting was made public after it was alleged the pope had met with and blessed Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who had denied marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Grassi told reporters at the time he felt he needed to defend his friend, the pope, from unfair criticism.

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Fr. James Martin, SJ, and Yayo Grassi

Grassi also told attendees at the New Ways Ministry event (which honored Jesuit Fr. James Martin for promoting dialogue in the church on LGBT issues) about an exchange he had with the pope, when Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina:

“When the gay marriage law was being discussed in the Senate in Argentina, I read on the internet that then-Cardinal Bergoglio was very much against it and that he had said really painful and hateful things about the approval of the law. I was very surprised. I was very surprised more than anything else because knowing him, and knowing how much love there is in his heart, it was difficult for me to understand that he would do such a hateful thing. . .

“So I wrote him a quite extensive letter. I sent him an email telling him how much I admire him, how important he was in my life, and how much he did for me. How he had brought forward through his education the most open and progressive thought in my life. And then I went on saying, I will never be able to thank you, so you might think its a very strange way to thank you if I tell you I’m very disappointed by the way you treated the gay [marriage] law.”

Cardinal Bergoglio replied to Grassi’s letter in two days. He first asked forgiveness because of the hurt his former student felt and continued, as paraphrased by Grassi:

“Believe me I never said any of those things. The press picked up from two letters that I sent to the nuns asking them not to give any kind of opinion on this, and they were distorted and they were put as my words.”

Concluding his brief remarks, Grassi offered what he considered to be “the most beautiful thing. . .the most amazing thing” about Pope Francis, which came at the end of that reply letter:

“[Bergoglio in 2008] ends his letter, besides asking me to pray for him as he always does, saying, ‘Yayo, believe me, in my pastoral work, there is no place for homophobia.’ And that is the first time that I realized what an amazing person he was. He not only said, ‘Who am I to judge?’, there is something very important that he said later, he said ‘Who are we to judge?’. . .The we was the whole church, and the whole humankind.”

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Yayo Grassi offering his thoughts at the Bridge Building Award ceremony

Fr. Martin’s address was about bridge building, an invitation to a two-way bridge on which LGBT communities and the institutional church can dialogue. You can read a report on the address here. What Grassi’s experiences with Pope Francis reveal is a model for just how the institutional church can be changed by encounter and by friendship.

Equally important, however, is the necessity for church leaders to explicitly and unequivocally reject homophobia in the church and in society. It would be a wonderful step towards building bridges if the supreme pontiff in the church, Pope Francis, were to publicly declare what he told Grassi privately, that “in my pastoral work, there is no place for homophobia.”

Watch Yayo Grassi’s full remarks below or by clicking here.

–Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 1, 2016

WATCH LIVE: Fr. James Martin Addresses LGBT Issues

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Don’t Miss Out!
Watch Fr. James Martin, SJ’s Major Address LIVE!

We know you don’t want to miss Fr. James Martin, SJ’s major address advocating for LGBT Catholics after he receives New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award. We also know not everyone is able to make the event this Sunday.

But we have good news! Our staff has organized a “live stream” of the whole event.

You can join us from your computers and mobile devices for the entire Bridge Building Award ceremony and hear what promises to be an enlightening and entertaining address on Catholic outreach to LGBT people.

How and When to Watch Live:

Click here and join us at 2:00 pm Eastern Time TODAY, October 30, 2016

You will be redirected to our Facebook profile for the live video, which will appear at2pm on Sunday.

(Does the hyperlink not work? Copy and paste this link into your browser: https://www.facebook.com/NewWaysMinistry).

And it’s not too late to attend in person! Just click here to register.

We look forward to this new opportunity to join us in this historic moment!

PS: Want to spread the word to your friends? Share the link on Facebook, Twitter, email, and other social media! Your friends won’t want to miss this event!

Lessons from Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Woman of Mercy

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Co-Founder of New Ways Ministry, was featured by the Catholic reform organization FutureChurch as their Woman Witness of Mercy for October. The following reflection by Bondings 2.0’s Associate Editor Bob Shine was included in a resource packet on Jeannine. For more information, and to purchase the packet, click here.

home-page-slide-jeannine-gramickAfter fifty -plus years in religious life, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SL has encountered numerous people and touched many lives in her ministry of justice and reconciliation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Catholic Church. I first met Jeannine a few months after college and in this reflection, I share a little of how she has impacted my own life and what I know younger Catholics can learn from this holy and humble person.

I began at New Ways Ministry during a service year with the Loretto Volunteers. The first evening at the Volunteers’ opening retreat, held at the Sisters of Loretto’s motherhouse in Kentucky, we watched a documentary about Jeannine’s life and ministry. I lay in bed that evening and, quite overwhelmed, questioned myself on how I had jumped into such deep waters. Sisters had shared their stories with us over meals and in side conversations. Theirs were stories of integrating schools and accompanying communities, of artistry and feminist witnesses, of poetry and anti-war protests. Theirs was a mission, to paraphrase their famed former superior Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, of going out to the ends of the branches of our world because that is where the fruit resides. And I had committed to wandering out an ecclesial branch with a sister who was taking on the Catholic Church.

Events that fall would not, at first, quiet the questions from that opening retreat. Within a few weeks, I had spent a Saturday witnessing at various sites in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the Loretto Community’s 200th anniversary and helped organize Catholic events for the marriage equality campaign in Maryland. I had discovered that even the enthusiasm and energy I had at 22 could not keep pace with Jeannine and the other sisters.

With time, working alongside Jeannine and Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, I have learned much. Four years on, Jeannine and I now teach one another. It is not quite equal – I help her navigate Facebook and she helps me navigate the complexities of being a disciple of Christ – but it is a friendship I cherish. The following are four lessons Jeannine has taught me, lessons which can aid younger Catholics like myself as we find our way in the troubled church we love.

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Sister Jeannine Gramick

“What is the Catholic Church doing for gays and lesbians?” A young gay man named Dominic posed this question to Jeannine in 1971, and it would be this question that radically transformed her life. Jeannine began organizing home liturgies for gay people in the Philadelphia area, educating herself on homosexuality, offering some workshops, and, in just a few years, launched New Ways Ministry with Fr. Robert Nugent. Being open to Dominic’s question and tender to the pain of gay people excluded from the church led Jeannine down a path she never expected, but which came to define her life. I was not there, but I believe it was the Spirit speaking through Dominic when he asked that question. This story is a reminder that we, as Christians, must be ever present to the people around us, ever listening to voices at the margins, and ever willing to let the Other make claims on our life that may have profound consequences.

Don’t say the church when you mean the hierarchy. Jeannine lives committed to Vatican II’s teaching that the church is fundamentally the People of God, and that community is essential for Christian life. Before I knew Jeannine well, I thought she was a rogue figure who alone had challenged the Vatican, yet this narrative is not accurate. Her decades of ministry would not be possible without the people and communities that support her and work with her – the congregations to which she has belonged, other women religious, LGBT Catholics and their families, supporters of New Ways Ministry, theologians and scholars, and more. And Jeannine is not only supported by, but actively contributes to the communities she is in. For younger Catholics in the United States, we cannot forget how essential community will be for our journeys even if parish pews are thinning out and the hair of fellow believers’ greys. Enacting the church’s evangelical mission is not possible unless we live as the People of God: baptized as priests, called to holiness, and supporting one another whatever may come.

The envelopes need stuffing. On Tuesday evenings, you will find Jeannine with the New Ways Ministry volunteers who prepare the organization’s bulk mailings and then gather for pizza and camaraderie. Jeannine models what it means to be a leader who serves. Even though she is quite busy, she attends to people with kind notes and small loving acts. She willingly does the tedious but necessary tasks with everyone else. She works long hours to ensure every detail is correct, and exhibits a persistence in ministry possessed by few (and the teacher in her never wastes an opportunity to teach me a grammar lesson). Jeannine teaches younger Catholics that seeking ecclesial reform and renewal means hard work that is hardly glamorous. We must resolve each morning to seeking a just church, steadily running the race Christ has set before us that is not even a marathon but an ultramarathon.

“I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression.” These words, with which Jeannine responded to the Vatican’s attempt at silencing her, are a haunting reminder to me of what being Christian entails. Being part of the church means calling the church to live more fully the Gospel that we proclaim, but people will resist this threatening call. Jeannine endured two decades of degrading investigations and punitive sanctions by church leaders because she refused to believe LGBT people are anything less than wonderfully made by God. She challenges even today the church she loves and the communities to which she belongs, exercising the prophetic office which we all share through baptism as she invites all people to be reconciled. To be Christian is to prioritize Christ against all else, and there will be times when following the decisions we make in conscience leaves us isolated, rejected, and deeply pained. But we should never collaborate in our own oppression or the oppression of others, especially when it is the church for which we are responsible that is inflicting wounds.

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Jeannine Gramick, SL & Bob Shine

The widespread acceptance of LGBT people among Catholics in the United States and growing acceptance internationally can largely be attributed to Jeannine’s tireless labors. She is an incarnation of these words from Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, words which Jeannine introduced me to (they hang in a frame over her desk) and which are so powerful for Catholics who seek a reformed and renewed church:

“All the works of God proceed slowly and in pain; but then their roots are the sturdier and their flowering the lovelier.”

Holy people are holy not because of their greatest flowering acts, but because of their quietest habits which create sturdy and deep roots. Jeannine Gramick has acted greatly in listening to Dominic’s voice and being faithful to her response even when the Vatican bore down. Yet, the person I know Jeannine to be is a person whose quietest habits in daily life are what have most catalyzed the reception of Vatican II and renewal of the Catholic Church on matters of gender and sexuality. Honored to know Jeannine as a colleague and as a friend, I conclude with this prayer:

Radiant colors stretched across the sky,
the rainbow is your sign of loving covenant,
after flood waters bathed the earth, O Divine Creator.

From You, creation is breathed into being,
from chaotic waters, infinite diversity rises,
every person reflecting You, wonderfully made,
every creature beloved by You, wonderfully made.

Arms stretched to the ends of the Cross’ beam,
Jesus is your sign of lasting covenant,
after we forget how to love, O Divine Redeemer.

Slowly, creation seeks Your embrace by
our daily labors and our bread broken,
yet imperfect lives keep restrained the love
You poured into our beings, love to pour out.

With lives stretched outward from within,
we are your sign of liberating covenant,
after we encounter the Other, O Divine Healer.

Pierced by the Other’s inquiry of “Will you love?”
our reconciling hopes foundations for new bridges,
creating a church where God’s queer people
from margins to center come, radiant people,
lives echoing Jesus’ prayer to be One.

We are the People of God, invoking your creative breath,
as a sacrament in the world, as an outstretched rainbow
proclaiming anew in our renewing witness,
Your loving, lasting, liberating covenant.
May this be so; may we be one. Amen.

–Bob Shine,  New Ways Ministry, October 29, 2016