Friday, February 5, 2010

USCCB Chief Clarifies Church's position on "New Ways Ministries" - it ain't Catholic

Cardinal Francis George in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit on the occasion of Archbishop Allen Vigneron's installation

I hope we see more of this kind of action out of our bishops, and I"m glad to see Cardinal George taking care of it on behalf of the US Bishops.  Too many people are being misled by these groups claiming to be Catholic, when are not in the good graces of the Church because they are obstinate in spreading error. 

Let's pray the US Bishops, led by Cardinal George, can take on the National Catholic Reporter and the doctrinal error spread there next.

Back in 1999, the founders of New Ways Ministries were sanctioned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which issued a notification.  Here is how it ends after the relevant background is provided in that notification:

Given the failure of the repeated attempts of the Church's legitimate authorities to resolve the problems presented by the writings and pastoral activities of the two authors, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is obliged to declare for the good of the Catholic faithful that the positions advanced by Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination are doctrinally unacceptable because they do not faithfully convey the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church in this area. Father Nugent and Sister Gramick have often stated that they seek, in keeping with the Church's teaching, to treat homosexual persons "with respect, compassion and sensitivity". However, the promotion of errors and ambiguities is not consistent with a Christian attitude of true respect and compassion: persons who are struggling with homosexuality no less than any others have the right to receive the authentic teaching of the Church from those who minister to them.

The ambiguities and errors of the approach of Father Nugent and Sister Gramick have caused confusion among the Catholic people and have harmed the community of the Church. For these reasons, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience of May 14, 1999, granted to the undersigned Secretary, approved the present Notification, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 31, 1999.

+ Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect
+ Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli, Secretary

Apparently, it was clear enough to some and clarification was needed on the organization they founded,  New Ways Ministries.  Rocco Palmo reports:

It might be late on a Friday afternoon, with snow bearing down on the capital... so it seems, though, the Mothership's still whirring away.

Just before 4pm Eastern, a "clarification" emerged from the USCCB President, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, on the ecclesial standing of New Ways Ministry, the "gay-positive" outreach for Catholic gays and lesbians whose founders were sanctioned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999 and barred from further ministry to the community.

Apparently motivated by New Ways' criticism of "efforts by the church to defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman" and the group's call for "Catholics to support electoral initiatives to establish same-sex 'marriage,'" here's George's statement in full:
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I, archbishop of Chicago and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on the status of the organization "New Ways Ministry":

New Ways Ministry is an organization based in Mount Rainier, Maryland, that describes itself as "a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities." From the time of the organization's founding in 1977, serious questions have been raised about the group’s adherence to Church teaching on homosexuality. In 1984, the archbishop of Washington denied New Ways Ministry any official authorization or approval of its activities. At that time, he forbade the two co-founders of New Ways Ministry, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Fr. Robert Nugent, to continue their activities in the Archdiocese of Washington. In the same year, Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent were ordered by their superiors to separate themselves from New Ways Ministry. Although they resigned from leadership posts, they continued their involvement in New Ways Ministry activities until 1999, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that because of errors and ambiguities in the approach of Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent they are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.

In reference to his decision not to grant any approval or authorization to New Ways Ministry in the 1980s, Archbishop James Hickey of Washington cited the organization's lack of adherence to Church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts. This was the central issue in the subsequent investigation and censure of the founders of New Ways Ministry, Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent. This continues to be the crucial defect in the approach of New Ways Ministry, which has not changed its position after the departure of the cofounders.

New Ways Ministry has recently criticized efforts by the Church to defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and has urged Catholics to support electoral initiatives to establish same-sex "marriage." No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination. Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!