Thursday, January 02, 2014

Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS, RIP

I came across this on Fr. Martin's Facebook page:

R.I.P. Father Robert Nugent, SDS, co-founder with Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, of New Ways Ministry, which helped and continues to help many gays and lesbians feel welcome in the church.

In 1999, after many years of working with gays and... lesbian Catholics, Fr. Nugent was ordered by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to cease his ministry, and was told not to speak or write about gays and lesbians. Faithful to his vow of obedience as a Salvatorian, he accepted the Vatican's silencing. He remained a priest in good standing and continued a life of dedicated service to the church. - Fr. Martin, SJ
I intuitively never followed New Ways Ministry because of its dissent from Catholic teaching.   After reading the literature I recognized I was unable to agree with the group's tenets, and I moved on.  Nevertheless, the work accomplished by New Ways Ministry is extensive and without doubt its influence has made a huge impact on Catholic teaching in the United States.  Especially amongst clergy and Catholic educators, which may help explain why gay marriage has such a high approval rating amongst Catholics.  I think NWM has been successful in effecting a paradigm shift within the minds of many who claim to champion Church teaching in their efforts to minister to homosexual persons.  As the New Ways Ministry website makes clear:
“It is impossible to overestimate the impact and value of Father Nugent’s lesbian and gay ministry.  He educated a generation of pastoral leaders who began to put into practice the inclusive ideals that he taught.  A tireless researcher and writer, he produced a number of important works on pastoral care that helped to shape the movement in Catholicism of gay-friendly parishes.  In the mid-1990s, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life as they produced their landmark pastoral document, Always Our Children.* A sensitive counselor, he supported scores of gay priests and brothers as they worked at reconciling their spirituality with their sexuality. - Bondings 2.0

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May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

*Bishop Bruskewitz referred to the document as a "calamity and frightening disaster".  As I noted, obviously the influence of New Ways Ministry has had a significant impact upon Catholic attitudes toward homosexual behavior.  Though NWM is officially 'condemned', the philosophy behind it has deeply influenced what is taught in many of our schools and parishes.

1 comment:

  1. He was an associate pastor at our small town parish until a couple of months ago. His homilies were more like lectures on church history and apologetics, and perhaps went over the heads of most of us. I wondered why he wasn't at some university. He was a gifted confessor, and took an extended time (even at Christmas) to discuss things and then would often assign an appropriate psalm for you to look up and meditate on. R.I.P, Fr Bob.


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