New Ways Ministry’s Work for LGBTQ Equality

Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL
June 28, 2018

NETWORK is thrilled to celebrate Pride Month with New Ways Ministry. In the Catholic world, we often find that members of the LGBTQ+ community are not recognized or affirmed. We know that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities have human dignity and we are called to treat all with love and respect. We applaud New Ways Ministry and their work as a Catholic organization to “promote the acceptance of LGBT people as full and equal members of church and society.”

The Catholic movement for LGBT equality has reached a point I had never dreamed possible when I first became involved with the LGBT community almost 50 years ago.With Pope Francis’s examples of openness and dialogue, and his encouragement of pastoral accompaniment, I have seen many church leaders and institutions willing to welcome LGBT Catholics to their rightful place in the faith community.

New Ways Ministry has been cataloguing the development of LGBT-friendly Catholic parishes for about two decades. In the last year or so, we have seen a significant increase in the number of faith communities who have adopted some form of public affirmation of LGBT people. Some parishes even have full-blown LGBT ministries of education, spiritual development, and personal support.

On Catholic college campuses, the growth in LGBT equality has been even greater. Schools are establishing gender-neutral bathrooms and dorm policies. Courses in LGBT history, theology, and spirituality are increasing. LGBT faculty members are receiving employment benefits for their spouses. Most importantly, young students are leading the way with calls for greater inclusion for LGBT people.

This tremendous growth is certainly a blessing to be treasured, but we mustn’t be swayed to think that all the work has been done. New Ways Ministry has been involved in working to end the terrible scourge of unjust firings of LGBT people who work at Catholic institutions. We are encouraging parishes, schools, and religious congregations to adopt employment non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.

Internationally, we are involved in developing the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), a coalition of Catholic LGBT organizations and ministries from around the world. At the top of the GNRC agenda is raising awareness about many countries around the globe that are adopting laws that criminalize LGBT people, who not only face arrests, imprisonment, and torture at the hands of government officials, but also experience violence and terror from their fellow citizens. New Ways Ministry and the GNRC are trying to get Catholic leaders to speak out against these horrendous human rights abuses.

Within our own church, New Ways Ministry is working to promote support for lesbian nuns and gay priests, brothers, and deacons. We have been sponsoring gatherings for these individuals with leaders of religious communities and with formation/vocation personnel.

Finally, although New Ways Ministry has had the support of thousands of Catholics over the last few decades, there have been none more generous, courageous, and consistent than the communities of women religious. It is not an exaggeration to say that we would not be in existence today if it were not for the support of the nuns.

Yes, the Catholic LGBT movement has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

Jeannine Gramick, SL is a Sister of Loretto and a co-founder of New Ways Ministry.