Brooklyn Bishop: Music Video Shot in Church ‘Attack on Religion’ and ‘Glorification of Mass Murder’

Bishop Robert Brennan warns parents about the destructive message it sends to young girls.

The façade of the Church of the Annunciation is seen Dec. 27, 1016, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.
The façade of the Church of the Annunciation is seen Dec. 27, 1016, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. (photo: Fernando Garcia Esteban / Shutterstock)

Pop musician Sabrina Carpenter shocked and offended many Catholics with the Oct. 31 release of the music video for her song “Feather” in which she danced provocatively on the altar of the historic 19th-century Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Brooklyn, New York. 

Bishop Robert Brennan, who heads the diocese, launched an investigation into how the video was permitted to be filmed on Church property in violation of diocesan policy; he also offered a Mass of Reparation and disciplined Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the pastor of the parish, earlier this month. At the bishops’ fall meeting in Baltimore last week, he told the Register that setting aside “the attack on religion” in the video, “just from a societal point of view, I am shocked by the glorification of mass murder that was the theme of this video.”

The video shows a group of men fighting over Carpenter and killing each other as she watches, taking pictures on her phone and being occasionally sprayed with blood. Their funeral coffins end up in the church and one of the coffins says “RIP B----.” Carpenter dances in provocative attire and mockingly folds her hands as though in prayer and winks.

Bishop Brennan said that in the video “there’s the desecration of the church. There's the attack on religion and the blasphemy.” And while “all of those things are serious in themselves,” he has concern as well for “the fact that an artist who has 30 million subscribers and most of them very young teenage women” is glorifying “murder,” referencing Carpenter’s significant following on Instagram. The video has amassed more than 8 million views on YouTube. 

“That's what's being glorified in the culture that … is supposed to be so peaceful and so tolerant and all that,” he lamented. “We're promoting mass murder.”

He called the messages in the video “a real concern,” but added that “there's an opportunity to speak to young people here,” and said it could serve as “an awakening for parents to realize this is what's being portrayed in our culture.” 

“This is what's being portrayed among music artists today. This is what's so popular.”

After questions were raised about the location of the music video, the Brooklyn Diocese told CNA on Nov. 2 that Bishop Brennan was “appalled at what was filmed at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Brooklyn.”

“The parish did not follow diocesan policy regarding the filming on church property, which includes a review of the scenes and script,” they said.

Bishop Brennan offered a Mass of Reparation on Nov. 4 and the diocese told CNA that “a review of the documents presented to the parish in advance of the production, while failing to depict the entirety of the scenes, clearly portray inappropriate behavior unsuitable for a church sanctuary.”

“In light of this,” they continued, “Bishop Brennan has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski as the temporary administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-Annunciation Parish.” Bishop Mroziewski will assume “all administrative oversight” of the parish pending an administrative review that “will immediately commence,” the statement said.

“Additionally, Msgr. Gigantiello’s tenure as vicar for development for the diocese has concluded as of Nov. 3, 2023,” according to the statement.

Msgr. Gigantiello wrote a letter to the parish Nov. 4 taking “full responsibility” for the matter and offering his “sincere apologies to our faithful parishioners for this shameful representation, which I wholeheartedly renounce.”

“While I take full responsibility for the erroneous decision to allow the filming, I want to assure you that I had no knowledge that such a scene would be filmed in our church, which we worked so hard to restore to its present sacred beauty,” he wrote. 

He said that he and the parish staff “were not aware that anything provocative was occurring in the church nor were we aware that faux coffins and other funeral items would be placed in the sanctuary. Most of the video was supposed to be filmed outside, near the church, which it was.”

Bishop Robert Brennan blesses the altar at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Brooklyn, New York, with holy water on Nov. 4, in response to the filming of an indecent music video in the church. Assisting the bishop is Msgr. Joseph Grimaldi, vicar general of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Pastor Apologizes for Provocative Music Video Shot in Church

The $5,000 paid to the church for the filming of the video will be donated to Bridge to Life, a pro-life pregnancy center in College Point, New York. Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello said that he was not present for filming but added that he removed the Blessed Sacrament from the church prior to shooting.