Jeannine Gramick

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Jeannine Gramick
Born 1942 (age 71–72)
Nationality American
Occupation Religious sister, academic
Religion Roman Catholic

Jeannine Gramick, S.L., (born 1942) is a Roman Catholic religious sister and leading advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights as a co-founder of New Ways Ministry.

Career and Ministry[edit]

Sr. Jeannine was educated in Catholic grade and high schools in Philadelphia. She moved to Baltimore in 1960 to join the School Sisters of Notre Dame, teaching high school mathematics through the 1960s. Later, she was an associate professor of mathematics at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in the early 1970s.[1]

Having graduated in 1969 with an M.Sc. degree from the University of Notre Dame, Sr. Jeannine completed a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, obtained in 1975.[2] While at Penn, Sr. Jeannine befriended a gay man, Dominic Bash,[citation needed] and began ministering to lesbian and gay people. She organized religious services for those who had left the Catholic Church because of prejudices against them.[1]

She began three chapters of Dignity USA in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia,[citation needed] as well as the Conference for Catholic Lesbians.Sr. Jeannine co-founded New Ways Ministry with Fr. Robert Nugent, which is a Catholic LGBT-positive[neutrality is disputed] ministry of justice and advocacy in the Catholic Church and civil society.

Since her time at Penn, Sr. Jeannine has conducted spiritual retreats, workshops and pilgrimages to holy places for the LGBT community, their families, and friends. She travels extensively through the English-speaking world to lecture on sexual identity from a faith perspective, promoting the judgment of the American Psychiatric Association that a homosexual identity is a sexual orientation, not a sickness. Her ministry involves building bridges between different elements within Catholicism through dialogue and education. Sr. Jeannine advocates the full acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people into religious and civil groups in the belief that peace in the world comes through treating each person with dignity and respect.[1]

Many publications written and edited by Sr. Jeannine explain further on her positions and ministry, including "Homosexuality and the Catholic Church," "Homosexuality in the Priesthood and Religious Life," "The Vatican and Homosexuality," and "Voices of Hope: A Collection of Positive Catholic Writings on Lesbian/Gay Issues." She is the co-author with Fr. Robert Nugent of "Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church,".[3] "Building Bridges" was translated into Italian and published as "Anime Gay: Gli omosessuali e la Chiesa cattolica" (Editori Riuniti, Rome, 2003).[2]

She has also served as co-chair of the National Coalition of American Nuns and on the Board of the Women's Ordination Conference.[3]

Vatican Controversy[edit]

Sr. Jeannine's ministry since 1971 to attain reconciliation for sexual minorities has not been without controversy. For nearly twenty years, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, her religious community, assigned her to this work.[2] The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reviewed Sr. Jeannine's public activities on behalf of the hierarchy. In 1999, the CDF declared grave doctrinal error and asked her to stop pastoral ministry with the gay and lesbian community.

In 2000, the religious congregation told her to cease speaking publicly on the topic of homosexuality. Sr. Jeannine responded by saying, "I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]".[3] After this, she transferred to the Sisters of Loretto, another congregation of Catholic women religious which supports her ministry of education and advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community.

In 2009, as the Vatican conducted two investigations into the life of American women religious, commentator Maureen Dowd recalled that the CDF investigated and attempted to silence Sr. Jeannine while former Pope Benedict XVI served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[4]

Public Recognition[edit]

Sr. Jeannine has been recognized for her ministry in the Catholic community by the National Coalition of American Nuns, the Loretto Community, the Paulist Community, Call to Action, Dignity USA, the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, Pridefest America, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,[5] and the American Psychological Association.[citation needed] The Santa Claus Foundation in Turkey awarded her the 2005 Peace Prize for her ministry with sexual minorities.[6] She was named Laureate of the International Mother Teresa Awards in 2006 for human rights activism.[7]

Sr. Jeannine has served on the national boards of the National Assembly of Women Religious, the Religious Network of Equality for Women, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Women's Ordination Conference. She is currently an Executive Co-Director of the National Coalition of American Nuns.[8]

The documentary film In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick's Journey of Faith, by Barbara Rick, details Sr. Jeannine's decades of ministry with the LGBT community and her struggles with the Vatican.

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