on the cross

The Maryland Church That Dares Accept Homos Is Drawing the Wrath of Catholic Leaders

If you ever needed reason to believe the fine folks behind the Roman Catholic Church were the leaders of a cult, then you need only look at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ response to a Marland church standing in support of gay marriage: don’t trust them!!

New Ways Ministry, based in Mount Rainier, Maryland, calls itself a “gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities.” Saying such nonsense is, as we all know, blasphemy. And it’s also got the USCCB — most recently in the news over another pro-gay scandal — furious that anyone would believe New Ways Ministry represents true Catholic teachings.

In a statement released Friday, Cardinal Francis E. George says, “No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice.”

To which News Ways’ executive director Francis DeBernardo, who testified last year before state lawmakers in opposition to a constitutional ban on gay marriage, responded: The cardinal’s statement “will not impede or slow us in our efforts to work for justice for lesbian/gay people in the church and society.”

Though the two parties have a long history of going back and forth over gays and the church:

DeBernardo said he was “astonished that Cardinal George released such a statement” without contacting New Ways or informing the organization that it was being released to the press.

Cardinal George said that as far back as 1984, then-Archbishop James A. Hickey of Washington “denied New Ways Ministry any official authorization or approval of its activities,” citing “the organization’s lack of adherence to church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts.”

“This was the central issue in the subsequent investigation and censure of the co-founders of New Ways Ministry,” Cardinal George added. “This continues to be the crucial defect in the approach of New Ways Ministry, which has not changed its position” since then.

New Ways Ministry was co-founded in 1977 by Sister Jeanine Gramick and Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent, who were ordered by the Vatican in 1999 to stop their ministry to homosexuals because “ambiguities and errors” in their approach caused confusion for Catholics and harmed the church community.

After they continued to speak and write about homosexuality, the two were directed by their religious superiors in 2000 not to speak publicly or write about the topic or about the Vatican actions. Father Nugent accepted the discipline and is in parish ministry, but Sister Gramick refused and continues on the lecture circuit.