The Vatican condemnation of two US ministers to the gay community was "handled very badly", according to the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George.
    Sr Jeannine Gramick and Fr Robert Nugent were "permanently banned" from their ministry in July last year, and this restriction was recently tightened to include all speaking or writing on homosexuality.
    Neither has been given the chance to communicate with the Vatican departments which acted against them - the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Institutes of Consecrated Life (CICL). Sr Gramick has described the conduct of the process as "outrageous", and has said she will not accept the curbs . Her verdict has been echoed by representatives of several Catholic groups.
    The cardinal's expression of regret reportedly came during a recent meeting with the superiors of religious communities in the Chicago diocese. The orders to which Nugent and Gramick belong are affiliated to the Conference of Major Superiors of Male Religious (CMSM) and the Leadership Council of Women Religious; observers say these bodies are hoping to promote fresh dialogue over ministry to homosexuals during the coming months.
    A colleague of Gramick and Nugent who did not want to be named told The Tablet that ways were being sought behind the scenes to prevent Gramick's expulsion from her order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Nugent has accepted both this year's and last year's Vatican curbs without public complaint. He is said to have circulated a letter from a friend pleading with him to remain in his order "as a silent witness to injustice". This is generally presumed to be Fr Nugent's own view of the situation.
18 July 00

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