In what would have been unthinkable under the previous Pope Benedict, members of an LGBT religious support group in the US, called New Ways Ministry, were given VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly audience yesterday, Wednesday 18th.
They had been given the VIP seats by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, who is in charge of giving out reserved tickets.
However, the group were not announced as other groups were, and were not mentioned by Francis. This did not deter the LGBT support group of pilgrims, who realised this was a first for the LGBT community.
Whereas the Pope did not speak about LGBT issues specifically, he did urge new cardinals to reach out to the marginalised. He said church leaders should “go beyond their comfort zones” and approach people they normally would not associate with.
Monsignor Gaenswein, who had allocated the VIP tickets, had also held that position under Pope Benedict, who had prohibited the founders of New Ways Ministry to minister to LGBT people.While one of the founders, Robert Nugent (now deceased), abided by the prohibition, the nun involved, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, continued to minister to the LGBT community, and was given a seat at Wednesday’s audience.
Sister Jeannine told the media:
“To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness he has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church”.