Church officials postpone award for fired nun

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BOSTON - A nun who was fired from a Jesuit center for helping perform baptism rites reserved for priests won't receive the center's highest honor this year - if ever.

Sister Jeannette Normandin was to receive the annual Imago Deo ''in the image of God'' award from Boston's Jesuit Urban Center during a Nov. 17 ceremony.

But Jesuit officials decided to postpone the dinner after Normandin was fired last week for violating a church law by anointing children during their baptisms.

Her punishment sparked a furor in the community. That prompted the center to postpone the dinner until next spring.

''It's simply to have the event in a peaceful time,'' the Rev. Thomas Carroll, director of the center, said Thursday.

Carroll said Normandin hasn't been stripped of the award.

''So far, that is not the issue,'' he said.

But her fitness for the award may be in question after her violation of church law. Carroll refused to comment on that.

''We reflect on many things in weekly staff meetings,'' he said. ''I'm sure we will talk about these things.''

Church officials believe Normandin was making a political statement when she helped baptize the adoptive sons of two gay couples Oct. 22. Under church law, baptisms can only be performed by ordained ministers, except in an emergency. Normandin has said women should be ordained as priests.

Normandin and the Rev. George Winchester, who watched as she performed the baptisms, were both fired and were ordered to move out of the Jesuit center.

Normandin said Thursday she doesn't believe her actions were wrong.

''In my heart, I don't think I'm out of sync with God and have done a horrible thing,'' she said.

Normandin, a member of the Sisters of Saint Anne, is known in the city for her work with women in prison, homeless women and women with AIDS. She had worked on the center's pastoral staff for 11 years.

She said she understood why the ceremony has been delayed.

''I'm not disappointed,'' she said. ''I think it might give us some time to settle down.''


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