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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first woman appointed by Pope Francis to a voting position in the Vatican, is endorsing a radical Catholic LGBTQ+ campaign group that defies Church teaching on homosexuality and gender ideology.
Becquart, one of the highest-ranking nuns in the Holy See, will deliver the 2022 Fr. Robert Nugent Memorial Lecture organized by the New Ways Ministry, a dissident group promoting same-sex "marriage" and transgenderism in the Church.
Titled "Synodality: A Path of Reconciliation," the April lecture will explore how the Synod on Synodality "aims at the synodal conversion of the Church to become a listening Church and an inclusive Church with the style of discernment."
The lecture seeks to bring "a Vatican official into conversation with LGBTQ people and their allies as part of the synodal process," New Ways Ministry announced.
The 52-year-old French nun belonging to the Ignatian religious order of the Xavières Sisters was appointed by Pope Francis as undersecretary to the Vatican Synod of Bishops in 2021.
"The Holy Spirit works by innovating in continuity with the past," notes Becquart. The nun will speak in honor of the late Fr. Robert Nugent — a Salvatorian priest who was permanently banned in 1999 by Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) from New Ways Ministry for his "erroneous and dangerous" homosexual advocacy.
Ratzinger ruled that Fr. Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, cofounders of New Ways Ministry, had questioned "the definitive and unchangeable nature of Catholic doctrine" on sexuality and "caused confusion among the Catholic people."
By downplaying the Church's position on homosexuality, they also failed to provide people "struggling with homosexuality" with the benefits of the Church's "true teaching," stated Ratzinger, then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"The positions advanced by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination are doctrinally unacceptable because they do not faithfully convey the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church in this area," the CDF ruled.
Even before Ratzinger took over the CDF, the Vatican had, in 1978, barred Nugent from hearing confession and celebrating Holy Mass after he was repeatedly warned against imparting "ambiguous" information in his teaching.
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, then-president Cdl. Francis George warned that New Ways Ministry has "criticized efforts by the Church to defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and has urged Catholics to support electoral initiatives to establish same-sex 'marriage.'"
"No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice," the USCCB statement emphasized, noting that the group "has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church."
However, in a sweeping U-turn, Pope Francis wrote supportive letters to Sr. Gramick and the heterodox group, congratulating them for their solidarity with LGBTQ+ people.
"Thank you for your neighborly work," Francis wrote in a June 17 letter to Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the organization.
On Dec. 10, the pontiff sent a handwritten letter on official Vatican stationery to Sr. Gramick, acknowledging he knew "how much she has suffered" and describing the Loretto sister as "a valiant woman who makes her decisions in prayer."
Francis' letter to Gramick came on the heels of a fierce controversy involving New Ways Ministry after organizers of the Vatican's Synod on Synodality included a video from the heterodox group in the "resources" section of the synod website.
The controversial video calls upon "LGBTQ people and allies" to "make sure that every voice is heard and recorded" during the Church's two-year synodal process.
The video was removed from the synod website on Dec. 7, and synod communications manager Thierry Bonaventura told journalists that synod organizers were not aware the USCCB had clarified the status of New Ways Ministry as heterodox in 2010.
But after Francis wrote to Gramick, Bonaventura restored the video on Dec. 12 and apologized for removing the link, claiming the decision was made for "internal procedural reasons." Bonaventura took personal responsibility for the decision, acknowledging how "this brought pain to the entire LGBTQ community who, once again, felt left out."
"Vatican officials rarely apologize, and they almost certainly have never apologized to LGBTQ people or an LGBTQ Catholic ministry. This action signals that Vatican officials are becoming aware of how their decisions impact LGBTQ lives," director Francis DeBernardo remarked, calling the decision to republish the video "an historic moment."
Meanwhile, Sr. Becquart's elevation has been hailed by Women's Ordination Conference, a caucus fighting for female deacons and priests in the Catholic Church.
The heretical group, says Becquart, is certain that "change will come" in terms of more women in Church leadership as "an evolution" since "it is also an important topic for many men, priests and bishops — and even the pope!"
The feminist nun contends her appointment is a "brave signal and prophetic decision" by Pope Francis, and evidence that the "patriarchal mindset is changing" as the question of women becomes "a sign of the times."
On Thursday, New Ways Ministry praised openly gay black priest Bryan Massingale for saying: "My dream wedding would be either two men or two women standing before the Church, marrying each other as an act of faith."
"I can be there as the official witness to say, 'Yes, this is of God,'" Fr. Massingale said to a class at Jesuit-run Fordham University, adding, "if they were Black, that would be wonderful."