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Pope Francis, Sr. Gramick. Composite photonone/Shutterstock & New Ways Ministry

(LifeSiteNews) — A dissident Catholic nun, formerly silenced by the Church for her rejection of Catholic teaching on LGBT issues, has described Pope Francis’ recent letters of support to her as a “very significant” step, signaling a pro-LGBT stance from the Vatican.

“There’s a new era in the church because of Pope Francis. He’s enabling people to feel freer,” said Sister Jeannine Gramick in a phone interview with Crux.

Gramick came under renewed media attention December, after it came out that Pope Francis had written a letter praising the dissident, pro-LGBT organization New Ways Ministry (NWM) which she co-founded in 1977 with dissident priest Robert Nugent. The Pope’s comments had come in a series of letters earlier in 2021, between Gramick and NWM executive director, Francis DeBernardo.

NWM released the letters in a political move intended to show the papal support they enjoyed, after the Vatican’s General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops removed a New Ways Ministry video from the list of resources provided for the multi-year Synod on Synodality.

The Secretariat subsequently apologized to the group, re-instated the video, and asked NWM to contribute more to the Synod on Synodality. 

Consolidating his support for NWM, Pope Francis then wrote again on December 10, in the midst of the media controversy over the video, praising Gramick for her “50 years of closeness, of compassion and of tenderness.” 

Yet Gramick has a long history of dissenting from Catholic teaching on homosexuality and abortion, and was officially silenced by the Vatican in 1999, an order which she ignored. In 2010 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) further declared that New Ways Ministry “has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church” to speak on the LGBT issue.

Gramick, in her interview with Crux, explained how she and long-time homosexual advocate DeBernardo had written to Francis, “telling him we didn’t want to do anything without his permission.”

The Pope’s swift replies to their correspondence she described as “beautiful,” as he praised their “neighborly work” and “shepherd closeness.”

Gramick also highlighted how the Vatican’s apology to NWM marked a key moment and was “very significant,” since it was “the first time any LGBT group has gotten an apology from the Vatican.”  

Crux described the apology as representing “a sea change” in the Church’s official position.

Despite the USCCB’s previous censorship of Gramick and NWM, she explained how the group nevertheless enjoyed “good private relationships [with U.S. prelates] since Cardinal Hickey,” continuing with the current Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory. 

“If we would only follow our conscience and do what we believe is right, no matter what a person in authority thinks or believes, we should not be moved by fear of sanctions, we should not be moved by wanting praise,” said Gramick. “We should be moved by doing what is right, what we believe is right.”

Pope Francis will eventually change the Church’s teaching, Gramick is convinced

The dissident nun revealed even more about her hopes from the current pontiff in a lengthy January 7 interview with Jesuit-run America Magazine. 

The papal letters indicate that Francis “saw that we [NWM] were participating in the mission of the church,” she said.

The nun revealed her hopes, and certainty, that Pope Francis would in time even change Church teaching to align with her previously condemned views. “Gay people say to me, ‘Pope Francis is wonderful, but he hasn’t changed the teaching of the church.’ Well, that is not his job right now,” said Gramick. “Eventually, it’s his job, but right now it’s up to us, the people, to articulate the faith. What do we believe?”

“Sometimes we have to go against what the leaders of our church say. We have to operate out of love and not fear. Pope Francis doesn’t want little robots. Vatican II didn’t, either.”

She praised Catholics who were holding “public outcries” for more Church promotion of LGBT issues. “The laity are beginning to stand up. That gives me hope,” she said.

While promoting a form of revolution against Church authorities, Gramick further accused the USCCB of being behind in its LGBT promotion. “I think the bishops’ conference has a lot of work to do,” she said. 

“They need to start talking with each other, and get with the program — Pope Francis’ program.”

Gramick also mentioned how she had previously used “the institution” of the Church and consecrated life to promote LGBT issues in a “political” move, by deliberately wearing her nun’s veil — which she “never” normally did — while testifying for a “gay rights bill.”

Pope Francis has given ample evidence of the pro-LGBT “program” which Gramick referred to, with a long history of promoting LGBT issues at the expense of Catholic doctrine, including an occasion in which he is reputed to have told a gay man that “God made you gay.” 

In his strongest statement to date on the topic, Francis called for same-sex civil unions in a film released in October 2020. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” declared the pontiff. 

LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen has compiled a non-exhaustive list of the Pope’s support and promotion of LGBT ideology.