Putting the smackdown on Sister Gramick










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Equality - In Our Faiths - Putting the smackdown on Sister Gramick

August 6, 2004

Putting the smackdown on Sister Gramick
A nun wrestles with the Vatican's Grand Inquisitor

The Grand Inquisitor for Mother Rome, head of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Putting the smackdown on heresy since 1981.the driving force behind the world's most powerful campaign against same-sex marriage, has a fan club. The Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club ("Putting the smackdown on heresy since 1981!") says "Ratzinger keeps himself busy in service to the Truth: correcting theological error, silencing dissenting theologians, and stomping down heresy wherever it may rear its ugly head."

Sister Jeannine Gramick is one of those dissenting theologians whom Ratzinger has stomped on. The Church Sister Jeannine Gramick's Journey of Faith in Toronto on May 22 at 2:15 p.m.began monitoring Gramick in 1977 because of her ministry to gays and lesbians. But after Ratzinger became head of the Inquisition, he took a personal interest in Gramick's activities, and eventually he ordered Gramick to be silent on matters regarding homosexuality and religion.

Gramick began working to end the spiritual abuse of homosexuals when she was busy working with another group targeted by Ratzinger - feminists.

"It was 1971 when I became involved in church ministry," Gramick recalled for us in a recent phone conversation. "Hand in hand with that I came in contact with women who were working for justice for women and change in the Church. So that brought me in contact with others who were advocates for change in other areas."

Gramick met a young gay couple and began to feel a personal pull towards devoting her time "to change within the church on gay and lesbian issues. People during the 70's had no understanding of homosexuality other than the stereotypes. I could not pick up any Catholic newspaper and read the word gay or lesbian or homosexual - we had not yet opened up on this issue. So because of that I saw the need to work in the church, to educate people, to put homophobia to rest."

Gramick refused to be silent, and she continues to work for change. The 2003 Vatican attack against same-sex marriage in the Considerations document demonstrates just how extreme Ratzinger and the Pope are in their zeal to demonize the queer community.Listen to the radio documentary To Live With Courage - Homosexuals in the Roman Catholic Church: The Story of Sister Jeannine Gramick (CBC)

"That document reflects a whole mentality that is pervasive at the Vatican: that we have the whole truth and their job is to protect and defend this truth," Gramick said. "What I would hope is that some day the leadership of our church - it is happening now in middle-management - would have a mentality or world-view that understands that we have to search for the truth, we have to arrive at the truth. It was only at the end of the 19th century that they were defending slavery so it takes a long time for people to arrive to the The lethal effects of woman who seek power  - Lesbians & Gays Too.truth."

Ratzinger's continued attacks on women and gays demonstrates how adrift and isolated from reality the Vatican has become.

Gramick was on a pilgrimage to Munich "to pray for a miracle" when she happened to encounter Ratzinger, so she sat down and asked him if he had ever met any gay people?

"Oh yes, Sister, yes, yes," Ratzinger assured Gramick. "When the Pope and I were in Berlin there was a parade of homosexuals."

The Vatican's policies, based on a sense of absolute authority, have isolated church leaders, from their own faithful. Canadian Catholics have learned to simply ignore anything the church has to say about abortion and birth control. In Canada's last election, Catholic Bishops ordered sermons from the pulpit to denounce same-sex marriage. Election pamphlets were distributed with the intention of rewarding politicians who aligned themselves to church doctrine, and punishing those who did not. To the contrary, Canadians were frightened away from voting for the Catholic-friendly Conservative party because the party threatened to make gay marriage illegal by limiting the rights of gays and lesbians. The Vatican's demands in Canada have been tested, and thoroughly rejected, in court, and by the voters. Still the message hasn't got through to the Vatican.

"It is out of touch with people's experience," Gramick agrees. "I do not think it's helpful to expect change from above in the near future. In fact that might be counterproductive of what the true meaning of church is. If church is the people of God, and if the spirit speaks through the people for God, than it's the people of God that we should look to for change. And I have great hope, as I have seen the spirit of God working in lesbians and gays."

"The Vatican's statement that feminism "attempts to erase gender differences" is absolutely ridiculous. My wife of 40 years, Monique, is a liberated woman, and her attitude and strengths have enriched our marriage. Celibates who are totally out of touch with the realities of today, and do not understand the meaningful, and rich interpersonal relationship between a man and a woman, should not pontificate on things they know nothing about. Ironically, on our 40th anniversary, we had our union blessed in a Catholic church. Is it really the same institution we belong to? With these ridiculous statements emanating from Rome, it makes one wonder."
Wilf Langevin, Letter to the Editor, Aug. 4, 2004
The Toronto Star

While Gramick feels disappointed by the leadership in the Vatican, she does not feel herself to be a victim of the authoritarians who rule under a claim of divine infallibility. On the contrary, like others who have paid a high price for open disagreement with Church leadership, Gramick readily acknowledges that she chose her path as an advocate for gay rights because of her love of humanity and her sense of faith.

"God puts certain things in our lives and we can say that's an accident, or another way of looking at that is that is the kind of journey that we are meant to take," Gramick said about the makeup of an advocate. "It's a combination of things coming into our lives, and our response to it is a free choice, but that choice may be the hand of God working."

What you can do

  • Write to the Catholic Bishop in your area denouncing the Vatican's interference in secular life.
  • Write to the Vatican to express your outrage at their promotion of hatred.
  • If you are Catholic, withhold your financial support. Instead of dropping money in the collection plate, leave a note explaining your position.
  • Support organizations and faith communities that welcome homosexuals.


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