Jeannine Gramick

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Jeannine Gramick
Born1942 (age 76–77)
OccupationReligious sister, academic

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


Gramick was born to a Polish Roman Catholic family in Philadelphia, and attended Catholic grade and high schools.[1] 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.[2]

Having graduated in 1969 with an M.Sc. degree in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame, Gramick completed a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, obtained in 1975.[3] In 1971, while engaged in graduate studies, Gramick became involved in a pastoral outreach to the lesbian/gay community. In 1972-73 she co-founded chapters of Dignity USA in Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.,[4] as well as the Conference for Catholic Lesbians.[citation needed]

Gramick co-founded with Fr. Robert Nugent, New Ways Ministry, a social justice center working for the reconciliation of lesbian/gay people and the Catholic Church.[4]

Many publications written and edited by Gramick explain 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,".[5] "Building Bridges" was translated into Italian and published as "Anime Gay: Gli omosessuali e la Chiesa cattolica" (Editori Riuniti, Rome, 2003).[3]

She has served on the boards of the National Assembly of Women Religious, the Religious Network of Equality for Women, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Women's Ordination Conference and the National Coalition of American Nuns.


Gramick's activities have not been without controversy. In 1984, because of alleged ambiguities in her presentation of church teaching on homosexuality, the Archbishop of Washington prohibited her from engaging in any pastoral activities with respect to homosexual persons in the archdiocese.[6] At the same time, the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life ordered her and Fr. Robert Nugent to separate themselves from New Ways Ministry, stating that they were not to lead any pastoral care of homosexual persons without faithfully presenting the Church's teaching on homosexuality.[6] In 1988, the Vatican opened an investigation of her and Fr. Nugent's activities, which after publication of their books and the possible doctrinal errors contained therein, was transferred in 1995 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).[6] In 1999, after a written dialogue with her and Fr. Nugent, the CDF issued a public notification that the two authors' writings and activities were doctrinally unacceptable and failed to correctly and fully present Catholic teaching on homosexuality and permanently prohibited them from any pastoral work with homosexual persons.[6]

In 2000, her religious congregation, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, told her to cease speaking publicly on the topic of homosexuality. Gramick rejected the request, stating publicly, "I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]".[5] 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 2014, she was a signatory to an open letter to President Obama that urged him to expand U.S. funding of abortion services in the cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment in foreign countries, currently prohibited under U.S. law by the Helms Amendment.[7][8]

In April 2015, Gramick was banned from speaking in the Diocese of Charlotte by Bishop Peter Jugis. A Diocese spokesman, on behalf of Bishop Jugis, stated: "We are not going to have someone who opposes Catholic teaching to be teaching in a Catholic diocese,"[citation needed] The event titled Welcoming LGBT People and Their Families in Faith Communities was scheduled at St. Peter Catholic Church before the Bishop intervened.[citation needed]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Howell Williams (2007). Homosexuality and the American Catholic Church: Reconfiguring the Silence, 1971--1999. ProQuest. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-0-549-46947-6.[dead link]
  2. ^ "CoFounders", New Ways Ministry[dead link]
  3. ^ a b The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network
  4. ^ a b Biography of Jeannine Gramick. DePaul University
  5. ^ a b "Catholic Gay Group to Honor Nun, Priest Silenced by the Vatican", Dignity, May 16, 2001
  6. ^ a b c d [1]
  7. ^ Kuebler, Joanna (May 14, 2014). "Faith-based leaders call on Obama to ensure access to abortion as part of U.S. foreign policy" (press release). Center for Health and Gender Equity / Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
  8. ^ Knox, Harry; et al. (14 May 2019). "FBOs Helms letter" (PDF). Letter to President Obama. Center for Health and Gender Equity / Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

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