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N.C. Catholic Bishop Nixes Event With Pro-LGBT Nun

N.C. Catholic Bishop Nixes Event With Pro-LGBT Nun


However, an LGBT-affirming Baptist church has stepped in to host a talk on inclusion by Sister Jeannine Gramick.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Charlotte, N.C., has nixed an appearance by a pro-LGBT nun at one of the city's Catholic churches -- but the sponsors of the event have found another venue.

Sister Jeannine Gramick, cofounder of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBT equality in the Catholic Church, was to speak at an event called Including LGBTQ People and Their Families in Faith Communities at St. Peter's Catholic Church May 16, local LGBT publication QNotes reports. Event sponsors are PFLAG Charlotte and St. Peter's Gay/Lesbian Ministry.

However, this week the Charlotte diocese announced that Bishop Peter Jugis had intervened to cancel the event. "New Ways does not speak legitimately for the teaching of the Catholic Church and therefore cannot be allowed to hold gatherings on Church property," said a short written statement from diocesan spokesman David Hains.

New Ways has been condemned by the church hierarchy because its positions on homosexuality run counter to official church doctrine. "The positions advanced by Sister Jeannine Gramick and [cofounder] 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," said a 1999 decision by the Vatican's Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith. However, in February, on Ash Wednesday, a group of LGBT Catholics and allies organized by New Ways received VIP seating for Pope Francis's weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Diane Troy, president of PFLAG Charlotte and a parishioner at St. Peter's, which is considered an LGBT-friendly congregation, expressed disappointment with Jugis's decision. "Sr. Jeannine's message is very much in line with Pope Francis' message of welcoming LGBT people to the Catholic Church," she said in a prepared statement. "Her message of inclusion and acceptance has been well received by LGBT Catholics, the Catholic Church and its hierarchy for decades. 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. ... It's unfortunate that the Bishop, as our spiritual shepherd, has chosen to turn his back on so many."

To local TV station WCNC, she added, "When you're a PFLAG mom, it's very personal."

Gramick's talk will go on, however. Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte has agreed to host the May 16 event. It is an LGBT-affirming church (not affiliated with the antigay Southern Baptist Convention). The event is open to the general public.

"Sister Jeannine will be there and she will be glad to meet with the people, particularly now because of this very sad intervention [by Jugis]," New Ways executive director Francis DeBernardo told QNotes (Gramick is currently out of the country). "I think the need for reconciliation is going to be even stronger, because I'm sure there are a lot of people who are upset with this decision. It would have been great if the event could have been in a Catholic church; it would have sent a really important message. But the work will go on and she'll be there on the 16th."

This is not the first time the Charlotte diocese has angered LGBT people. In 2012 it fired a church music director who had married his same-sex partner, and this year it fired a substitute teacher who announced plans to enter into a same-sex marriage, QNotes reports.

Watch the WCNC report below.

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