A statement signed by more than 4,500 U.S. Roman Catholics protesting the Vatican's decision to bar a Baltimore priest and nun from their ministry to gays and lesbians will appear in today's editions of a national Catholic weekly newspaper.
The statement, which will appear as an advertisement in the Nov. 19 issue of the National Catholic Reporter, calls on the nation's bishops to "exercise their collegial right and ask the Vatican to reconsider this decision" to end the ministry of the Rev. Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick.
The publication of the ad was timed to coincide with the semi-annual meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops this week in Washington. It was signed by one bishop, Thomas Gumbleton, an auxiliary bishop in Detroit, and more than 230 Maryland individuals and organizations.
Gramick, a School Sister of Notre Dame, and Nugent were ordered in July by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to end their nearly 30-year ministry to gays and lesbians, because they failed to explicitly state the church doctrine that a homosexual orientation is "disordered" and that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Nugent and Gramick have been ministering to gay and lesbian Catholics since 1971.
The advertisement notes that the bishops have emphasized issues of social justice as the church celebrates its yearlong jubilee next year.
"A lot of people recognized the injustice in the process of the investigation," said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the Hyattsville-based New Ways Ministry, which organized the ad. "We felt that the bishops' call for justice in the jubilee year would be strengthened if they themselves practiced justice in this decision."
Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Houston, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, supported the Vatican action in a statement released during the bishops' meeting. The topic never came up for discussion during official business.
"The Congregation gave both Sister Gramick and Father Nugent several opportunities to express the belief of the Church, which unfortunately they did not do satisfactorily," he said.
"As a result the Congregation had no alternative but to take action."