The Case against “Sister” Jeannine Gramick

“The best defense is no offense”
May 20, 2014
By: Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.

In the Light of the Law

A Canon Lawyer’s Blog

Quick overview:


 Sr. Jeannine Gramick, a chronically controversial Loretto religious, has signed a public letter to President Obama expressly urging him (as if he needed urging) to fund abortion overseas.


Canon 1369 of the Johanno-Pauline Code states: “A person who in a public show or speech, in published writing, or in other uses of the instruments of social communication utters blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, expresses insults, or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty” (emp. added).


the diocesan bishop of her place of domicile or quasi-domicile (c. 102) has jurisdiction over her in regard to penal matters


However, I don’t think that anyone would imagine that any American bishop would move against her or anyone like her – not in our times. That’s what Canon Lawyer Peters is getting at when he says that there is “no offense” against her.

One thing that Canon Lawyer Peters does not discuss: can a member of the laity file a private complaint against her, a complaint that some Church authority is thereby obliged to formally dismiss or pursue? This would be analogous to filing a private criminal complaint in U.S. state law, which is a mechanism designed to allow a citizen to pursue justice through a magistrate when the prosecuting authorities refuse (for their own reasons, such as political expediency) to move against someone. Or, can a member of the laity directly commence an action against her? That would be analogous to filing a civil suit – and seems less likely. Almost impossible would be the possibility of getting a writ of mandamus to force her superiors to somehow move against her.


Imagine the possibilities, though… Biden, Pelosi, Cuomo, Kennedys…



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