(LifeSiteNews) –– A prominently pro-LGBT nun, who has received repeated praise from Pope Francis, has argued that the idea the Catholic Church cannot change its teaching on homosexuality “is simply wrong.”
Writing in the heterodox National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Jeannine Gramick – the co-founder of dissident LGBT group New Ways Ministry – continued her life-long advocacy for homosexual and LGBT ideology, an advocacy that has consistently been in opposition to Catholic teaching.
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 that 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 LGBT issues.
In her NCR article, Gramick used Francis’ recent comments opposing anti-sodomy laws as a spring-board for a renewed attack on the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding homosexuality.
Idea Church teaching on homosexuality cannot change ‘simply wrong’
The Catholic Church teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.” The catechism is very clear that homosexual activity can never be approved, and repeats that “[h]omosexual persons are called to chastity.”
Citing this language, Gramick argued that “[a]long with many other Catholics, including bishops, I believe that the ‘disorder’ language must be removed from the catechism and official church teaching.”
“While some will say the church can never change its teaching, including its sexual teaching, that idea is simply wrong,” she stated, citing a 2017 speech given by Francis to defend this position.
In his speech, Francis argued for doctrine to “develop” away from “interpretation that is rigid and immutable.” Gramick welcomed this, saying that Francis’ word were in line with what she and her fellow LGBT advocates desired:
It is precisely such a development of doctrine that LGBTQ Catholics and their allies have been calling for. They do not want a ‘rigid and immutable’ interpretation of sexual ethics that would be ‘demeaning to the working of the Holy Spirit’ in their own lives and in the life of the church.
She presented a summary of the advance of LGBT ideology within the Church during the recent decades, culminating with the current Synod on Synodality which has highlighted calls for “radical inclusion” of LGBT ideology.
Such undercurrents of thought, wrote Gramick, were resulting in “LGBTQ people and serious-thinking Catholics… increasingly ignoring the church’s teaching about homosexuality and gender.”
Gramick praised this state of affairs. She added that “[t]hese Catholics believe that morality grounded on obsolete knowledge is flawed, whether the morality is applied to heterosexual, homosexual or transgender people.”
Misquoting Vatican texts to defend homosexuality
Gramick also selectively quoted from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) 1975 document Persona Humana, stating the document accepted that “some lesbian and gay persons ‘are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct.’ This ‘innate instinct’ would imply that same-sex feelings are quite natural for some people.”
While Persona Humana does use the words “innate instinct,” it does so in a very different way to that which Gramick proposed. The document differentiates between people experiencing homosexual temptations due to poor education or habit, and those “homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.”
Of this latter kind, the CDF wrote that some suggest such an “innate instinct” justifies homosexual activities. However, it rejected this proposal, stating that while the “culpability” of such people must be judged “with prudence,” there is no pastoral or moral argument which justifies homosexual acts:
But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality.
In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.
Persona Humana also states: “There can be no true promotion of man’s dignity unless the essential order of his nature is respected.”
In 1986, the CDF then issued a document instructing bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons. The CDF admonished bishops to ensure they, and any “pastoral programme” in the diocese, are “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.”
In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul states that homosexual actions are sinful, explaining that “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers” will “inherit the kingdom of God,” but rather, according to his letter to the Romans, those who practice homosexuality will receive “in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”
Church teaching will ‘inevitably change’
Notwithstanding her misrepresentation of Church teaching, Gramick was convinced that such teaching would soon echo her own LGBT advocacy. “Church teaching on sexuality will inevitably change,” she claimed, “but, as in the past, this change will not come quickly enough for some or without great angst for others.”
Gramick did not outline specific changes which she wished to see within the Church on the matter.
However, Francis’ record since the CDF’s March 2021 responsum against same-sex “blessings” has been to make a number of statements praising and supporting advocates of LGBT ideology and same-sex civil unions.
Notably, Francis wrote a series of letters to Gramick and New Ways Ministry’s executive director Francis DeBernardo during 2021. The group 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 initially removed a New Ways Ministry video from the list of resources provided for the multiyear Synod on Synodality. The video was subsequently reinstated after the Secretariat apologized in light of the Pope’s support for the group.
Consolidating his support for NWM, Francis then wrote again on December 10, 2021, in the midst of the media controversy over the video, praising Gramick for her “50 years of closeness, of compassion and of tenderness.”