July 14, 1999
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents the elected leadership of more than 78,000 US women religious, is deeply saddened by the decision of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), notifying Sister Jeannine Gramick of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) and Father Robert Nugent of the USA Province of the Society of the Divine Savior, to terminate their ministry to our sisters and brothers who are gay and lesbian, as well as to their parents.
We respectfully acknowledge those congregations' longstanding support of their members' efforts to educate and challenge society to recognize the human rights and pastoral needs of persons who are lesbian or gay. Sister Gramick and Father Nugent, in the course of their long ministry, have consistently affirmed the essential dignity of each human being and have worked to change attitudes that, unchecked, have led to derision and physical violence against lesbian and gay people.
We regret the suffering and sense of alienation experienced now by those who have found ministry a reflection of God's love for them in the ministry of Sister Gramick and Father Nugent. We applaud the SSND decision to establish a fund that will support an individual in pastoral ministry to those who are lesbian and gay as an authentic expression of the congregation's charism.
We believe that the CDF decision adds to the anguish that many of our sisters experience who minister to those at the margins of our Church and society. As we live with and learn from those who have been marginalized, we come to new insights and understandings. We struggle to offer these to the larger Church community as we remain faithful to
the Church teachings on this and other sensitive issues.
We stand in solidarity with the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Society of the Divine Savior and we share in their sadness. It is our hope and earnest prayer that the current situation will open minds and hearts to increased dialogue among all people of faith and good will at every level of Church and society.