St. Patrick’s Cathedral Offers Reparation Mass After ‘Scandalous’ Funeral for Trans Activist

On Saturday, the pastor of St. Patrick’s said in a statement on the website of the Archdiocese of New York that Church officials shared in the ‘outrage over the scandalous behavior at a funeral here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral earlier this week.’

St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. (photo: Richard Trois via Flickr / (CC BY-NC 2.0).)

The pastor of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City says the church has offered a Mass of Reparation after a controversial irreverent funeral service was held there this week for a well-known transgender advocate. 

The Manhattan cathedral hosted the Feb. 15 funeral service for Cecilia Gentili, an activist who helped to decriminalize sex work in New York, lobbied for “gender identity” to be added as a protected class to the state’s human rights laws, and was a major fundraiser for transgender causes. Gentili was a man who identified as a woman. 

Throughout the liturgy, the presider, Father Edward Dougherty, referred to Gentili with feminine pronouns and described the trans-identifying man as “our sister.” Additionally, during the prayers of the faithful, the reader prayed for so-called gender-affirming health care, while attendees frequently and approvingly referred to Gentili as the “mother of whores.”

On Saturday, Rev. Enrique Salvo, the pastor of St. Patrick's, said in a statement on the website of the Archdiocese of New York that Church officials shared in the “outrage over the scandalous behavior at a funeral here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral earlier this week.” 

“The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way,” Father Salvo said. 

“That such a scandal occurred at ‘America’s Parish Church’ makes it worse; that it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual forty–day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us,” the priest wrote. 

“At [Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan's] directive, we have offered an appropriate Mass of Reparation,” Father Salvo said. 

Several mainstream media outlets had framed the event as a breakthrough occasion and a sign of the Catholic Church shifting its teaching — or at least its tone — on sexuality and human anthropology.

Time magazine described the fact that a funeral service for a trans activist was held in a Catholic cathedral as “no small feat,” while The New York Times described the service as “an exuberant piece of political theater.”

Organizers reportedly did not disclose to the cathedral that Gentili, who died Feb. 6 at age 52, was a biological man who identified as a woman.

“I kept it under wraps,” Ceyeye Doroshow, the service’s organizer, told The New York Times.

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