Bishop Bars Sr. Jeannine Gramick from North Carolina Family Gathering

Sister Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo in St. Peter's Square following the Ash Wednesday audience.

Sister Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo in St. Peter’s Square following the Ash Wednesday papal audience.

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, has been barred from speaking at a Catholic parish in North Carolina, a move which seems to contradict Pope Francis’ initiatives for a more listening and merciful church.

Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte personally expelled a PFLAG-Charlotte event from St. Peter Catholic Church where it was set to be held, according to QNotes. (PFLAG stands for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.) Diocesan spokesperson David Hains explained that Jugis acted against Sr. Gramick’s presence because of her connection to New Ways Ministry and outspoken support for LGBT rights. Gramick is in Ireland at the moment, encouraging Catholics to vote for marriage equality in that nation’s upcoming referendum.

LGBT advocates are criticizing Jugis’ decision as out of touch, contrasting it with Pope Francis and a new era in the Catholic Church he is helping to usher in. PFLAG-Charlotte President Diane Troy, a Catholic, said:

” ‘Sr. Jeannine’s message is very much in line with Pope Francis’ message of welcoming LGBT people to the Catholic Church. Her message of inclusion and acceptance has been well received by LGBT Catholics, the Catholic Church and its hierarchy for decades…It’s unfortunate that the Bishop, as our spiritual shepherd, has chosen to turn his back on so many.’ “

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, expressed similar sentiments:

” ‘It’s disappointing in the era of Pope Francis, where we see many Catholic leaders taking a more open approach to find out that Bishop Jugis has taken a more old-fashioned approach of silencing rather than [engaging in] dialogue and encounter, which are the words Pope Francis uses.’ “

QNotes’ report recalled the VIP seating at a papal audience that Sr. Gramick and 50 LGBT Catholics were granted this past February, a clear contradiction to Jugis’ rejection of Gramick.

However, this ban is especially unfortunate because the event, entitled “Including LGBTQ People and Their Families in Faith Communities,” takes up the very theme of pastoral care for families that Pope Francis has championed in the last two years. As DeBernardo pointed out, Catholics are engaged in LGBT inclusion precisely because they are Catholic and not in spite of it. This is particularly true when it comes to family life:

“For many Catholics, this particular issue is a matter of family. It is a matter of keeping families together and strengthening families. In the past two decades, more and more people in the U.S., including Catholics, have learned about an LGBT member in their family and that’s changed their hearts and their minds and moved them to work for equality.’ “

Diane Troy spoke to this reality as well:

” ‘My Catholic faith is profoundly important to me, as is the unconditional love and pride I feel for my gay son. Our Catholic school and parish communities should be a spiritual haven where all families receive acceptance and unconditional love.’ “

Despite the ban, the event scheduled for May 16 will go ahead at an alternate site that has yet to be determined.

This is only the latest controversy in the Diocese of Charlotte, which has fired two gay church workers in the past three years. All of this reveals just how much more Bishop Jugis and church leaders in Charlotte need to be attentive to Pope Francis’ example, allowing dialogue around LGBT issues particularly as they relate to pastoral concerns and working to make sure the local church is as inclusive as possible. Hopefully, in the weeks between now and May 16, clarity will come to Charlotte, and this harmful decision will be reversed.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

25 replies
  1. Sister Lea
    Sister Lea says:

    Let us not waste time and energy on what the ultra-orthodox RC Church does in fear of the saints among us. Let us rejoice with Sister Jeannine and all our courageous sisters and brothers who follow the Christ.

    • Consilia karli
      Consilia karli says:

      Catholics should know by now that church property, and how it is used and disposed of, is for the bishop to decide, never the people. Church property has been sacredly guarded ever since the Roman Empire recognized and incorporated Christianity. Celibacy was instituted to protect church property. Churches/cathedrals built by the people can be closed/sold without the consulting the people. In the US states have been kept from discriminating against the gay community by the people. It is only a matter of time until lawsuits are brought against dioceses that continue to violate the rights of gay members. Discrimination may become an issue for eliminating tax exempt status for religious institutions???

      • Sean Karees
        Sean Karees says:

        A friendly reminder: This very proprietorship of churches and monasteries lead to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the same. It is time for us to do the same.

  2. Neil V. Christensen
    Neil V. Christensen says:

    This poor benighted fool, needs to realize He can’t act this way in the United States of America. He can’t ban her. Pflag isn’t a Catholic group, find a neutral space & reschedual. HE can’t inerfear with her Civil rights as an American. Speech and Assembly. Abbot +neil, c.s.e.f.

  3. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    The US hierarchy seems to have a major problem when LGBT issues are concerned. I think of my home archdiocese of Detroit banning the local chapter of Dignity of meeting in any parish (luckily the IHM run college allows them to use their chapel at least weekly). Until there is an absolute statement prohibiting this kind of behavior these actions will continue!

    • Fr Anthony
      Fr Anthony says:

      years ago I attended A meeting with Fr Bob Nugent that the Bishop would not let meet in a Parish so they met at St Elizabeth College run by the Sisters of Charity in Madison New Jersey. Hooray for the Sisters.

  4. Friends
    Friends says:

    Not even to mention the fact that Pope Francis himself, in a personal meeting with several nuns who are active in the LCWR, has just removed Benedict’s interdiction against them, and has empowered them to go forth and do good work among the Catholic people whom they devotedly serve! Jugis has been an ultra-reactionary “bad actor” from the get-go. I would love to see Pope Francis summon him to Rome for “official consultation” — as is done with ambassadors in the secular world. All bishops are ex officio “Ambassadors of the Vatican”, and they serve at the Pope’s pleasure. I hope Francis can be prompted to intervene, especially in the case of a particularly bad actor, such as Jugis has persistently shown himself to be.

    • Brian Kneeland
      Brian Kneeland says:

      There was no interdiction (which is a canon law term) it was an investigation of the LCWR. Interdict means they cannot really be Catholic – and the investigation was to see if they were being true to dogma.

  5. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    Interesting that today’s Gospel includes Jesus’ words, “…I will not reject anyone who comes to me…”. Bishop Jugis seems to be turning his back on the Lord as well as the Pope. The Church of Charlotte deserves better.

  6. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    Little has actually changed. I fear that the next Pope may be much different than Francis. It is sad but the RC continues to be the negation of the Christ’s teaching. There are, of course, many genuine and open Christians in the RC, Unfortunately, those in control remain imperialistic.

    • Friends
      Friends says:

      Interestingly, Carlos, there are several very famous ancient prophesies which predict that there will be, at most, only one Pope after Pope Francis — if even that much. Beyond this point, huge cataclysms are going to be unleashed upon the earth; and the communities of continuing believers will gather in small cells or groups, to pray and worship together, utilizing whatever pastoral resources remain available to them. The youngest among us may live to see the start of such a drastic transformation. Kyrie Eleison.

  7. Mary-Ellen Mohring
    Mary-Ellen Mohring says:

    Sister Jeannine is truly Christ’s disciple and despite how she is censored by the Bishop, all LGBT people and their loved ones see and appreciate her brave actions.

  8. John Grooms
    John Grooms says:

    I am a parishioner at the church where the Sister Jeannine event was to take place, St. Peter Catholic in Charlotte, and I am fed up with this bishop and his obsessive hang-ups about homosexuality, his disrespect of women and his old school authoritarianism.

  9. Janelle Lazzo
    Janelle Lazzo says:

    It is a terrible thing when prejudice which is so out of line with the message of Jesus comes from the very shepherds who should be safeguarding all of us. Sister Jeannine has had so much more than her share of intolerance. She just keeps smiling and carrying on. She is an inspiration to me. I am sure this bishop needs my prayers more than my criticism, but I am fighting a battle with myself not to say something mean.

  10. freecatholic808
    freecatholic808 says:

    Reblogged this on Dawn Morais and commented:
    Tone deaf: one US Bishop’s response to Pope Francis’ call for a more inclusive, truly loving church. Somewhere in the Gospels bishops like Jugis have perhaps discovered Christ’s call to expel Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays? (PFLAG)


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  1. […] teacher firings, a Dominican nun’s anti-gay lecture to high school students, and banning Sr. Jeannine Gramick from speaking to Catholic parents on church property. This latest incident is not surprising, but […]

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