- New Ways Ministry
History and purpose
New Ways Ministry was founded in 1977 by Jeannine Gramick, a Roman Catholic nun, and Fr. Robert Nugent, a Roman Catholic priest, both of whom had been writing and speaking on the topic of homosexuality since 1971. The organization intended to help allow all homosexual Catholics to find acceptance within the Catholic Church. New Ways Ministry adopted its name from a pastoral letter entitled "Sexuality: God's Gift", written by Bishop Francis Mugavero of the Diocese of Brooklyn. The letter, written in 1976 to homosexual Catholics, stated; " ...we pledge our willingness to help you ...to try to find new ways to communicate the truth of Christ because we believe it will make you free." These sentiments served as an inspiration to the pastoral ministry carried out by Gramick and Nugent
Aims and objectives
New Ways aims to advocate justice for gay and lesbian Catholics, and to reconcile homosexuals and the entire Christian communion. On occasions New Ways Ministry has also taken stand on civil matters in society, defending what is considered the right of homosexuals. The organization posits that homosexuals are not yet equal members of society and the church and wishes to change this, via the use of dialogue, research, and education. New Ways Ministry maintains that homophobia in society derives mainly from ignorance and a lack of understanding about homosexuality, thus, the organization feels that mature and responsible communication, along with education can be the only way to resolve the current scenario.
New Ways has formed its viewpoints on the belief that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, and that efforts should not be made to "correct" homosexual orientation (drawing, in part, on the action taken by the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders). New Ways Ministry feels that gays and lesbians should not be forced to repress their sexuality, and should be embraced within the church
The organization employs a number of different techniques to promote their cause. New Ways analyzes and creates responses to Vatican Instructions, creating a compendium of statements and documents tackling Catholic issues about homosexuality. In addition, the organization holds national conferences which are attended by prominent guest speakers, of recent, important speakers have been the Roman Catholic Bishops Dr. Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Matthew Clarke of the Diocese of Rochester.
Controversy and criticism
New Ways Ministry has received controversy and criticism from numerous sources. Most notably, the organization has been condemned by the Vatican, albeit indirectly when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) disciplined Gramick and Nugent, ordering them, on May 23, 2000, to cease ministry to gays and lesbians because they were not strong in teaching that homosexual acts were intrinsically disordered and that the homosexual inclination which often leads to the activity itself was objectively disordered. In the final analysis, however, the central issue was the fact that neither were willing to reveal their personal conscience positions on the teaching that homosexual acts were intrinsically evil and that this teaching was virtually infallible and unchangeable. Fr. Nugent was willing to give assent of intellect and will to church teachings on homosexuality but refused to use terminology like intrinsically evil or disordered in his pastoral work. Gramick simply refused to give any internal assent to Church teaching.
Both Nugent and Gramick were forced by Rome to resign from New Ways Ministry in 1984 when the Vatican ordered them out because of pressures on the Vatican by Archbishop James Aloysius Hickey of Washington. From 1984 to 1999 both continued writing, speaking, and lobbying independently, both nationally and internationally. Nugent accepted both of the Vatican's decision in 1999 and 2000 and returned to parish ministry as a priest in good standing. Gramick accepted the first Vatican prohibition, but rejected the 2000 order and continues to provide support to homosexuals. In the formal document, Gramick was informed that she "may not speak or write on homosexuality, on the notification, or on any ecclesiastical processes that led to it..." further, that she "may not encourage the faithful to publicly express their dissent from the official Magisterium, nor protest decisions of the Holy See, nor criticize the Magisterium in any public forum whatsoever". After this the School Sisters of Notre Dame expected Gramick to accept both prohibitions of the Vatican. Gramick eventually transferred her religious vows voluntarily to the more sympathetic Sisters of Loretto).
Election of Pope Benedict XVI
The election of Joseph Ratzinger to the Papacy caused an immediate response from New Ways Ministry, which was likely due to Pope Benedict XVI's history of having been particularly faithful on orthodox views in regard to homosexuality. This would centre particularly on Benedict XVI's actions whilst Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After the results of the April 19th 2005 conclave, New Ways Ministry released a letter on the same day, addressing concerns about the suitability of Ratzinger to be Patriarch of a church that it believes urgently requires caring and understanding pastoral ministry to gays and lesbians. The letter stated:
"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s record at the Vatican has been marked by decisions to end discussion on important questions and issues facing Catholics and the world. His hard-handed tactics of silencing theologians and using language that offends rather than heals have caused much alienation and anger."
New Ways Ministry again criticized the Pope in 2009 over his scientifically discredited statements that condom distribution increased AIDS prevalence.
- LGBT-welcoming church programs
- Homosexuality and Christianity
- New Ways Ministry website
- Biographical Article about the Early Years of New Ways Ministry[dead link]
- New Ways Ministry Records
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