among the thousands of people who were in the church seen were unusual outfits

About the Scandal in New York’s Cathedral of Gay Irreverence During a Funeral and What This Has To Do with Fiducia Supplicans

In addition to some criticisms of what happened from Catholic sectors, the LGBT+ community complains that the service was shortened and that the mass was not held. In fact, they also ask for an apology for the vocabulary used in the archdiocese’s statement.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

(ZENIT News / Rome, 22.02.2024).- It was the month of December 1989 when hundreds of homosexuals entered Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and chained themselves to the pews of the emblematic New York church. It was the time of sexually transmitted diseases and the gay community needed visibility.

Three and a half decades later, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral was filled again with homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals, etc. The occasion was the funeral of a member of the community — Cecilia Gentili, an activist of Argentine origin, nationalized in 2022 an American, who exercised activism for the now called LGBT+ community and also a prostitute.

On Thursday, February 15, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral received Gentili’s mortexacty al remains, who died on February 6. According to what has been said, no one knew whose funeral it was.  But among the thousands of people who were in the church seen were unusual outfits: glitter miniskirts, sleeveless shirts, colourful wigs, leggings and fitted pants, pointed heels, leather clothes, black vests . . . Added to the garbs were images of Gentili simulating halos of holiness, rumours, shouting and a more festive atmosphere than the recollection proper to a funeral.

Father Edward Dougherty decided not to celebrate Mass and opted for a simple funeral rite, but without the Eucharist. The shouts, dances, words that oscillated between lack of respect and irreverence, did not guarantee an appropriate atmosphere for a celebration of this kind.

The fact of listening later to speeches of Gentili’s friends, words that bordered between irreverence and blasphemy, seem to give reason for the priest’s decision not to go ahead with the Mass. From the ambo where the Word of God Is proclaimed, some asked for access to change of sex treatments; others changed the words of the Hail Mary  to “Hail Cecilia,” while still others proclaimed  — also from the ambo –,  Cecilia’s name as “mother of all whores . . . “

But how was it possible that this should happen in the most important church of the United States? Not a few of the media gave space, on one hand, to criticism in response to the question, and on the other, to present the matter as liberalization in the Catholic Church.

It’s known that the person who called the Cathedral to request the funeral was a friend of Gentili, and also a transsexual, Ceyenne Doroshow. In statements to The new York Times, Doroshow said that Gentili wanted a funeral in Saint Patrick’s for one reason: Saint Patrick’s “is an icon like her,” but admitted that when the funeral was requested, no mention was made that Gentili was transgender. “I kept it secret,” Doroshow said textually. And, although important, perhaps it was the least thing given that Gentili was atheist. It’s true that, in a 2023 interview with “Interview Magazine,” Gentili admitted an interior search for God and her going to several churches, but only up to there.

After this event, the Archdiocese of New York issued a press release stating:

Thank you to the many people who have said to us that they share our indignation over the scandalous behaviour during the funeral here in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral at the beginning of this week. The Cathedral only knew that relatives and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and we had no idea that our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceitful way. That such a scandal happened in the “Parish Church of the United States” makes it worse, that it took place at the beginning of Lent, the annual forty-day struggle against the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need prayer, reparation, repentance, grace and mercy, to which this holy time invites us.

The press release added that, by instruction of Cardinal Dolan, a Mass of Reparation was offered (which, ZENIT learnt, took place on Saturday, February 17.)

A few days later, the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Dolan, touched upon this subject in his podcast. He said, “we didn’t know the antecedents” as “we don’t engage in FBI controls on people who want a funeral. And he specified, “The only thing we knew is that someone called and said: ‘Our dear friend died. We would love to have the funeral in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It would be a great source of consolation. She is Catholic. It would be a great source of consolation for us, her family and friends. So, of course, the priest of the Cathedral said: ‘Come in.’”

Asked if the priests had acted properly, the Cardinal responded: “I applaud our priests who took a swift decision: ‘Oh, oh, with behaviour such as this we can’t celebrate a Mass. We’ll do the Liturgy of the Word, which are the Readings, the Homily, the Prayer of Petition and the Our Father, and then we’ll stop. The Mass will not continue.’”

However, to the criticisms of what happened from Catholic sectors are added those of the LGBT+ community, which complained that the service was shortened and that there was no Mass. In fact, they also asked for an apology for the words used in the Archdiocese’s press release.

A portal raised a collection of signatures against the Archdiocese of New York and has over 10,000 signatures. They link the event with the Fiducia Supplicans Declaratioin. In reality, this event leaves us some lessons:

1st Desires don’t generate rights. According to the statements of Gentili’s friend, who succeeded in having the funeral in Saint Patrick’s, the deceased wanted a funeral in Saint Patrick’s as it’s an iconic place. But Gentili didn’t have a “right” to that or any other church, not for being transexual but for being atheist.

2nd It’s understandable that Saint Patrick’s Cathedral didn’t investigate the identity of the person for whom a funeral would be celebrated. There is usually an attitude of compassion and special closeness in one of the harshest moments in human life as are deaths. Perhaps this teaches something on how to combine pastoral care, compassion and legitimacy in a greater context to be able to anticipate necessities, but the attitude is understood of those that, in good faith, hosted a funeral.

3rd The good faith of the Church presupposes the good faith of one who approaches her. And it’s clear that there wasn’t sincerity in one of the two sides. Hence, it’s not about Fiducia Supplicans and gay blessings, but about the lack of honesty, which in this specific case has been the “gay side.”

4th As a priest, I wondered what I would have done, faced with the fact that the people and the deceased were there. There are lots of factors that are not seen when you are the one in front. It happens, as it does with many people who watch soccer or American football on a screen, who shout and give pointers from the comfort of a sofa, but who have never had the opportunity to play in the field. What I’ve just said isn’t an attack against anyone, it’s a context for all. And I think the priest did the best he could. What would have happened if he had celebrated the Mass and that, added to the fact of the irreverence, many of those people went to Communion? Or what would have happened if the priest refused to celebrate the funeral? There were a thousand people inside. And if, in the courage to cut everything, there were destructions? The priest acted the best he could in that specific moment.

5th There are those who criticize that the Mass of Reparation was held in private. I can understand the reason: had it been held publicly, can you imagine that whole community complaining outside the Cathedral or trying to enter to complain about the Mass of Reparation, seen by them as a Mass against them? How many more days would the controversy have been prolonged unnecessarily!

In 1989 homosexuals that entered the Cathedral were doing so for political reasons, as they sought to make their cause visible. In 2024 there continues to be a political issue. Remember that in not a few States of the United States “change of sex” operations are being prohibited, as are biological men, who feel themselves women, to compete in sports against biological women and harmonization for “transsexual children.” One can also read this event in all this context.

Thank you for reading our content. If you would like to receive ZENIT’s daily e-mail news, you can subscribe for free through this link.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Jorge Enrique Mújica

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation