In an unprecedented moment during the ongoing Synod on Synodality at the Vatican, Pope Francis met with the co-founder and representatives of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic group known for its advocacy for LGBTQ+ inclusion within the Roman Catholic Church. The meeting, which took place at the pope’s residence, marked a significant shift in the church’s approach to LGBTQ+ issues.
The attendees at this historic meeting included Sister Jeannine Gramick, who co-founded New Ways Ministry in 1977, along with Matthew Myers, Francis DeBernardo, and Robert Shine from the organization. New Ways Ministry has long advocated for the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals within the Catholic Church, challenging traditional teachings on gender and sexuality.
Sister Jeannine Gramick expressed her emotions about the encounter, saying, “From the day he was elected, I have loved and admired Pope Francis because of his humility, his love for the poor and for those shunned by society. He is the human face of Jesus in our era. Pope Francis looks into your heart, and his eyes say that God loves you.”
The meeting, which lasted for 50 minutes, followed two years of friendly correspondence between Pope Francis, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and other New Ways representatives. While the details of their conversation were not disclosed, it is seen as a significant affirmation of the work carried out by New Ways Ministry and the broader LGBTQ+ community within the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis has been notably more open to LGBTQ+ issues compared to his predecessors while still upholding official church doctrine. His recent comments on the potential blessing of same-sex relationships, though not endorsing them as the norm, generated both support and debate within the Catholic community. This historic meeting with New Ways Ministry reaffirms his willingness to engage with and acknowledge LGBTQ+ concerns.
While the Vatican has downplayed the centrality of LGBTQ+ issues in the Synod, the meeting with New Ways Ministry underscores the evolving dialogue within the Church on matters of inclusion and acceptance. As the Synod continues, it remains to be seen how these conversations will shape the future of Catholic doctrine and practice, particularly concerning LGBTQ+ individuals and the potential ordination of women as deacons or priests.