LGBTQI advocate Sister Jeannine Gramick received a handwritten letter on December 10 from Pope Francis, thanking her for five decades of LGBTQI ministry.

It is one of several letters the Pope has sent to LGBTQI Catholics and allies.

According to Jesuit publication America Magazine, the Pope congratulated Sister Gramick on “50 years of closeness, of compassion and tenderness,” which he described as being in “the style of God.”

‘You Did it Feeling the Pain and Without Condemning Anyone’

He also wrote, “You have not been afraid of closeness and in getting close you did it feeling the pain and without condemning anyone, but with the tenderness of a sister and a mother.”

Sister Gramick, along with the late Father Robert Nugent, cofounded the Catholic apostate New Ways Ministry. They educated Catholics about the science and theology concerning homosexuality.

This was met with condemnation by some American bishops who demanded she be removed from her ministry.

Refused to Stop Advocacy Work

Gramick and Nugent refused to stop their advocacy work for LGBTQI people, which led to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith launching an 11-year-long investigation.

It ended with a notification that stated the pair’s work did not accurately represent “the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination.”

Gramick and Nugent were forced to stop doing pastoral work for the LGBTQI community. The nun also had to change orders to continue doing her religious duties.

She said she felt “wonderful” having received the letter from the pontiff on the 50th anniversary of her working with and advocating for LGBTQI people.

She also told the Washington Post she was “overjoyed” and went on to say, “it felt like a turning point in the Church because for so long, this ministry has been maligned and in the shadows.”

The executive director of New Ways Ministry said the Pope “wants LGBTQ people speaking.”

‘One of Pope Francis’s Steps Forward’

Reverend James Martin, a New York-based Jesuit priest, told the Washington Post, “for most LGBTQ Catholics, Sister Jeannine is a real hero, so they’ll be delighted. They’ll rightly see this as one of Pope Francis’s steps forward.

“He doesn’t change church teaching on this but takes steps…added up, all the steps, we’ve come a long way.”

“What would I say to LGBT Catholics is, ‘Hold on, it will change,’” Sister Gramick told The Post. “We have to make our views known so that the officials of the church can properly express that change.”

Christopher Lamb, Rome correspondent for the weekly Catholic journal, The Tablet, tweeted, “The letter from Francis is significant given Sr Jeannine faced an 11 yr investigation & censure by the Vatican’s doctrine office. Despite that, she described Cardinal Ratzinger-Pope Benedict as a ‘holy man’ and is someone she respected.”

Fellow nun Christine Schenk from the Sister of St. Joseph tweeted: “Sometimes prophets ARE honored in their own times. Thank you Jeannine for your courage and persevering love. I am blessed to call you a friend.”

Rev. Martin tweeted: “Pope Francis has sent a new letter to Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SL, cofounder of @NewWaysMinistry and longtime #LGBTQ advocate, praising her for 50 years of LGBTQ Catholic ministry. A significant step in the Vatican’s outreach to LGBTQ people.”

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