PERTH, Australia (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has written another letter of support to a pro-LGBT Catholic group, which he sent via a dissident nun with a history of being silenced by the Vatican for her heterodox advocacy.
Based in Australia, the Acceptance group is a “a fully inclusive and affirming group comprising of LGBTIQA+ Catholics, their families, and their friends.” With centers in Perth, Canberra, and Melbourne, the group seeks to be a place where “LGBTIQA+ people of faith can be their true selves and live out their faith with full flourishing of their humanity.”
While no mention is made of promoting or adhering to Catholic teaching on morality or chastity, the group encourages members in “embracing the truth about ourselves, and celebrating God’s love – we seek to point towards the full inclusivity to which God is calling us.”
To mark the 50th anniversary of Acceptance’s foundation this year, Pope Francis sent a “handwritten note” to the group. Presenting the Pope’s message, Sr. Jeannine Gramick stated that the Pope had instructed her to convey his “happy greetings at this time of your anniversary.”
Gramick added that Francis had stated how he was praying that members of the LGBT advocacy group would “grow closer in love with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Full details of the letter were not released to the public, with a Melbourne-based section of the Australian group yet to have their official 50th anniversary celebrations and to read the letter themselves.
In response to the papal note, Acceptance stated that it had written to the Pope in thanks for “his warm and encouraging message and the support it provides to continue its mission of providing a welcoming ministry of LGBTQ+ Catholics, affirming their dignity and Catholic faith.”
Father Claude Mostowik, a former national coordinator of the group, praised Francis’ message since it “validates the importance of our work in creating a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ individuals within the Catholic community.”
“This milestone inspires us to continue our advocacy, fostering understanding, and promoting dialogue between LGBTQ+ people of faith and the Church,” said Mostowik.
Meanwhile Angela Han, who coordinates the Perth Acceptance group, said that the Pope’s message “reflects a message of welcome, inclusivity, compassion and acceptance, affirming the important role Acceptance has played in supporting LGBTQ+ people of faith over the past five decades.”
Acceptance boasts of being one of the oldest pro-LGBT Catholic groups in existence, and documents its history noting that the group has had a consistent practice of offering weekly LGBT Masses since 1972.
In their early days in the 1970s, priests offering Masses for the group “preached a Gospel message that welcomed gays and lesbians as loved people of God,” the group recounts. As of 1990, the group was able to use Catholic churches to hold their Masses, courtesy of a local Jesuit parish priest.
No mention is made that the group promotes or practices the Catholic teaching on chastity, or the teaching that “homosexual activity is immoral,” as clearly taught by the Vatican in the 1986 document on pastoral care for those experiencing homosexual attractions.
In fact, the group notes how “it is not surprising that many LGBTIQA+ Catholics who follow church teaching in general, find the church’s teaching on sex and sexuality both outdated and unhelpful, even damaging to their life and loves.”
Instead, the group promoted the practice of an LGBT lifestyle and the participation of full life in the Catholic Church as being a matter for each individual’s “primacy of conscience.”
“We also welcome those discovering or questioning or transitioning. As the Pope says: ‘Who are we to judge?,’” Acceptance writes.
A similar note was sent by Francis, via Gramick, to the U.K. group Quest, which seeks to “reassure and demonstrate to LGBT+ Catholics that it is possible to reconcile their sexual orientation and gender identity with their Catholic faith.”
Speaking at Quest’s 50th anniversary celebrations this summer, Gramick conveyed a greeting of the Pope. “I beg you to extend my greetings and my blessing to the Quest group. Tell them that I pray for them and ask them to pray for me also.”
But the 1986 text from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) states how a “truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
As such, the CDF advised bishops “that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”
LifeSiteNews contacted the Archdiocese of Perth inquiring whether Acceptance has been officially approved by the archdiocese. No response was received by time of publication.
The bearer of the Pope’s message, Sr. Gramick, is herself a figure of notable controversy. As the co-founder of dissident LGBT group New Ways Ministry, she has consistently advocated for homosexuality, LGBT ideology, and abortion, and as a result was officially silenced by the Vatican in 1999, an order that she ignored.
In 2010, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) further declared that New Ways Ministry “has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church” to speak on LGBT issues.
Gramick’s defiance of Catholic teaching on such matters has continued unabated, but has been particularly aided in recent years by support from Pope Francis on a number of occasions. The Pontiff has written to Gramick at least twice in the past two years, including praising Gramick for her “50 years of closeness, of compassion and of tenderness.”
In January 2022, Gramick said of Pope Francis’ letters to her were ushering in a “new era” of LGBT acceptance. She also condemned bishops for not following suit, saying “they need to start talking with each other, and get with the program – Pope Francis’ program.”