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Letter from Apostolic Pro-Nuncio appointing Maida to commission

Apostolic Nunciature

United States of America

3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20008-3687

May 9, 1988

Most Reverend Adam J. Maida

Bishop of Green Bay

P.O. Box 66

Green Bay, WI 54305

Dear Bishop Maida:

As you may be aware, since 1979 the Holy See, through the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, has been in frequent contact with the appropriate Religious Superiors concerning the public ministry of Father Robert Nugent, SDS, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND. Following considerable and prolonged dialogue, in 1984 the Holy See notified these Superiors of the decision that Father Nugent and Sister Jeannine must separate themselves "totally and completely from the New Ways Ministry" and that they are not to "engage in any apostolate or participate in any program or write on any subject concerning homosexuality unless [he/she] makes clear that homosexual acts are intrinsically and objectively wrong." This action was deemed necessary because, while presenting the Magisterium of the Church on homosexuality, Sister and Father seem to present the views of dissenting theologians in such a way as to give the impression that these latter positions are acceptable alternate opinions.

Unfortunately, despite the sincere efforts of the Holy See and the Religious Superiors, Cardinal Hamer, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, advises that, from the information that continues to be brought to the attention of the Roman Dicastery, it seems all too apparent that a consistent ambiguity persists, at least insofar as this regards the press interviews and other public statements attributed to the two religious.

Realizing that the ministry to the homosexual community is both sensitive and necessary, but knowing also that when it is conducted in the midst of controversy and ambiguity it can cause more harm than good, the Holy See has determined that Father Nugent and Sister Jeannine must be given the opportunity of providing a clear and unequivocal presentation of their position on the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. To this end, a special committee is to be established, the membership of which will meet with Sister and Father, in the presence of their respective major superiors, to evaluate the clarity and lack of ambiguity of their statements with respect to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

Because of your demonstrated expertise in the area of theology and canon law, you have been asked by our superiors in Rome to chair this committee of three. With this letter, Cardinal Hamer requests that I convey to you the confirmation of your appointment. As chairman of the committee, you will work in collaboration with Msgr. James Mulligan, Director of Priestly Life and Ministry Programs, Diocese of Allentown, and a noted moral theologian; and Sister Sharon Holland, IHM, Assistant Professor of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America, and highly respected for her knowledge and understanding of religious law in particular.

While expressing to you the deep gratitude of Cardinal Hamer for your gracious assistance in this matter, I likewise take this occasion to pledge the help and resources of the Apostolic Nunciature as you carry out your deliberations.

With every good wish and personal regards, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Pio Laghi

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio