The Vatican in 1999 barred Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent from ministry involving homosexual people. The two had been involved in gay ministry in the United States for more than 30 years.

In two letters to New Ways Ministry this year, Pope Francis commended the organization for its outreach to the LGBTQ community and referred to one of its co-founders, Loretto Sr. Jeannine Gramick, as “a valiant woman” who had suffered much for her ministry.

Written in Spanish on official Vatican stationary, Francis’ letters mention that the pope is aware that New Ways Ministry’s “history has not been an easy one,” but that loving one’s neighbour is still the second commandment, tied “necessarily” to the first commandment to love God.

“Thank you for your neighborly work,” Francis wrote in a June 17 letter addressed to Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which is based in Mount. Rainier, Maryland.

“Despite what some church leaders might say or think of us, it appears that Pope Francis is happy that we’re reaching out and helping to bring LGBTQ people into the church, and helping those who are here to stay,” DeBernardo told NCR.

DeBernardo said he decided to publicly disclose the correspondence between New Ways Ministry and the pope in response to the Vatican’s General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops removing a New Ways Ministry webinar video from a resources website for the 2021-2023 synod on synodality.

Reports in conservative Catholic media outlets indicated that the secretariat removed the video on Dec. 7 after learning that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had censured New Ways Ministry in 2010 for its support of civil marriage for same-sex couples. A spokesman for the secretariat has not returned requests for comment from NCR.

“We weren’t planning on making the correspondence public,” DeBernardo said, “but given this situation, it’s important for people to know. We do believe [Francis] wants LGBTQ people speaking, and we think it’d be helpful for him and helpful for his message and his invitation of inclusion, that people know that he has been corresponding with us.”

Tweet from Jesuit Fr. James Martin
A day later, however, the video had been removed. Martin, who has more than 303,000 Twitter followers and often enrages Catholics on the right for his ministry to the LGBTQ community, said the removal of the video raises questions of how LGBTQ Catholic voices will be heard at the synod.

Fr James Martin


Francis has a different aproach to the LGBT issue that most other members of the RCC hierarchy.

And sometimes Francis’ approach can be contradictory.

There is the “we should not judge” Francis and there is the Francis who says that gay men are unsuitable to priesthood.

Although it is perfectly consistent to promote pastoral care and non judgementalism to the LGBT community and also to say gay men are not suitable for priesthood.

But the the RCC does JUDGE LGBT people and regards them as “disordered” and their sexual actions as sinful.

I don’t think that Francis would go as far as offering such couples either a marriage or a blessing.

Personally, I am happy to both MARRY and BLESS such couples – and have been doing so for 35 years.

Do I think a same sex marriage can be a SACRAMENT?

I do.

A sacrament is an outward sign of an inner spiritual reality.

If the love of a same sex couple is of a certain quality, then surely it can be as much a sign of Christ’s love for his “bride” the church as an opposite sex couple’s love?

True love and God’s love is not just about genitalia?

I’m glad Francis has honoured Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent.

They were good people, who did especially good work who suffered at the hands of the Vatican and the American bishops.

The RCC has a special skill for torturing good and loving people.

And in doing that they do the work of Satan.