October 5, 2015 at 10:41 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
LGBT Catholic groups meet in Rome

Jeannine Grammick, New Ways Ministry, Dignity, Catholic Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of the Maryland-based New Ways Ministry, speaks to Michael Tomae from Owning Our Faith, left, and Stephen Seufert of Keystone Catholics at the John C. Anderson Apartments in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2015. Gramick is among those who attended a meeting of LGBT Catholics in Rome that took place over the weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

More than a dozen organizations that advocate on behalf of LGBT Catholics met in Rome over the past weekend.

The Maryland-based New Ways Ministry, DignityUSA and 11 other groups that are part of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics took part in the coalition’s inaugural meeting from Oct. 1-4. The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, the Christian Association of Gays and Lesbians of Catalonia in Spain, LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council in the U.K., the Dette Resources Foundation in Zambia and Pastoral de la Diversidad Sexual in Chile are among the other organizations that attended the gathering.

New Ways Ministry Executive Director Frank DeBernardo told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview from Rome the meeting caps off efforts to launch the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics that began two years ago. He said these groups “felt it was time for an international organization since there are so many of us.”

Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, and former Irish President Mary McAleese, who has a gay son, are among those who spoke at a conference in Rome on Oct. 3 that focused on “pastoral care” for LGBT Catholics and their families.

“A pastoral approach is better than an ideological one for promoting peaceful and fruitful relationships with LGBT people in the everyday life of Roman Catholic communities,” reads a description of the conference. “Beginning from the common humanity LGBT people share with all people and leaving ideology aside for a while can yield important discoveries for both the LGBT people and the church.”

The gatherings coincided the beginning of a three-week meeting of Catholic bishops in Rome during which they will vote on a document that specifically addresses the family. Leaked drafts of the document indicate it will reiterate the church’s opposition to unions between gays and lesbians.

Krzysztof Charamsa, a Polish monsignor who had worked in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003, came out as gay on the eve of the meeting and revealed he has a boyfriend.

The Holy See on Oct. 3 removed Charamsa from his post. The Associated Press reported the Polish monsignor is no longer able to work at the Vatican or pontifical universities in Rome where he had taught theology.

“Notwithstanding the respect due to the events and personal situations, and reflections on the issue, the decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible,” said Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, in a statement. “It aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure.”

Charamsa’s decision to come out coincided with the revelation that Pope Francis met privately with Yayo Grassi, an Argentine man he taught in the 1960s, and his partner at the Apostolic Nunciature in Northwest D.C. on Sept. 23. The Vatican continues to downplay the meeting between the pontiff and Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs, that took place in Washington the following day.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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