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Catholic priest once condemned by Vatican for his ministry to gays dies

Thursday, January 2, 2014

BALTIMORE — A Roman Catholic priest who was censured by the Vatican for his ministry to gays and lesbians has died.

The Rev. Robert Nugent, a co-founder of New Ways Ministry, had been suffering from lung cancer when he died Wednesday in Milwaukee at age 76, the group said in a statement.

Rev. Robert Nugent

Rev. Robert Nugent

Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick created the ministry in 1977 with a goal of reconciling gays and lesbians with the wider church community.

In 1999, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog, said they had harmed the church by causing confusion about church teaching that same-sex relationships were sinful. Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI, ordered the co-founders to permanently stop their outreach.

Nugent told The Associated Press in an interview that year he didn’t dissent from the core teachings on homosexuality, but opposed the language the church used when discussing the issue.

“I spent 25 years telling homosexuals that the church cares for you, that it wants you to have a part in it,” Nugent said. “How can I talk to them and convince them of that if I use language like evil, depravity and disorder?”

New Ways Ministry, based in Mount Rainier, Md., continued to operate.

Nugent mostly stayed on the sidelines as the Vatican had directed, while Gramick continued to advocate for gay rights, often running afoul of U.S. bishops. New Ways Ministry supported the 2012 Maryland law that recognized same-sex marriage.

Nugent, a member of the Salvatorian religious order, had said he had been deeply pained by the Vatican order, but he complied since disobedience would have cost him his priesthood. Francis DeBernardo, who now leads New Ways Ministry, said Nugent had “exhibited uncommon courage” in his work.

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48 more reader comments:

  1. R.I.P.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:28am
  2. Cept we all know what happens behinds the doors of the Vatican. lol

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:28am
  3. R.I.P.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:29am
  4. Ok kinda coincident??

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:29am
  5. Thank you.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:29am
  6. sad news

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:29am
  7. R.i.p

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:31am
  8. r.i.p

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:32am
  9. RIP

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:33am
  10. may he rest in peace…

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:33am
  11. R.I.P. Father

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:34am
  12. RIP Father Nugent

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:34am
  13. R.I.P and ratzinger should to die :poop:

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:36am
  14. only the good die young.

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:14am
  15. R.I.P.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:37am
  16. Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him! May he rest in peace.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:37am
  17. May he see the face if God. RIP

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:40am
  18. RIP

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:40am
  19. RIP, indeed. :(

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:40am
  20. R.I.P.YOU WERE A GOOD PERSON!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:42am
  21. RIP he was the hands of Jesus

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:46am
  22. RIP

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:46am
  23. Of course there are some who will try to say that he was struck dead for his deeds. You have to expect it.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:49am
  24. Well, if he was condemned by the corrupt Vatican then he probably has an express pass to heaven. Nice to know one guy had it right! RIP dear man.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:49am
  25. someone who followed Christ instead of man!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:50am
  26. May your soul be warm and filled with light ! Blessed be !

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:51am
  27. May God rest his soul

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:52am
  28. Well done good and faithful servant.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 2:58am
  29. Talk about paying it forward…thank you! It’s because of people like you that we have a magnanimous Pope today, marriage and equal rights (with more to come) all during a time when gays were considered lesser than. Peace, my brother!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:36am
  30. There’s a special place in heaven for people like this! RIP

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:37am
  31. Eternal rest grant unto Robert, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:46am
  32. R-I-P

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:56am
  33. dies, or poisoned? sorry but I am very suspicious of the corrupt CC.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:13am
  34. Censured by Cardinal Rat-zinger for doing the work to which he committed his life. So much for “hate the sin, love the sinner,” eh, Catholic church?

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:48am
  35. Sad.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 4:58am
  36. Bet he got haven First Class with VIP Treatment all the way ..

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:14am
  37. … A-true-HERO for my LGBTQ Catholic friends!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:44am
  38. How sad…may he rest in peace.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:58am
  39. RIP…

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:13am
  40. …and like Madiba, the world has lost another kind soul. Jesus weeps. We weep. RIP father. My hope is for many more like you to fill your shoes here.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:35am
  41. good

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:48am
  42. RIP matey

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:20am
  43. rip to one of the good christans that got it.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:01pm
  44. RIP my brother. You did a wonderful thing while you were here.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:08pm
  45. RIP, …and thanks!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:38pm
  46. It’s a loss to humanity and not the church.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 1:09pm
  47. Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:00pm
  48. May God rest his soul for his kindness and respect for all

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 3:18pm