In a recent letter to Sister Jeannine Gramick, Pope Francis thanked her for her 50 years of advocacy and ministry to LGBTQ+ Catholics, The Hill reported.
The pope in his letter, dated Dec. 10, said Gramick has not been afraid of "closeness" and, without condemning anyone, had the "tenderness" of a sister and a mother.
"I felt wonderful, of course," Gramick told America magazine after receiving the letter. "But the Scripture that came to me was from John: 'I do not call you servants, I call you friends.'"
Last month, the Vatican apologized for "causing pain to the entire LGBTQ community" by removing a link to a New Ways Ministry webinar encouraging LGBTQ+ Catholics to take part in a two-year consultation process to make the Catholic Church more welcoming.
New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo at the time called the apology a "historic" move by the church to recognize "the harm that such a slight would have caused LGBTQ people and the entire church." New Ways Ministry champions greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ Catholics.