Catholic Church holds 'Mass of Reparation' to cleanse the church after hosting 'sacrilegious' trans activist funeral

Monday, February 19, 2024
 – St. Patrick’s Cathedral held a rare “Mass of Reparation” at the historic Midtown church to atone for the “sacrilegious” funeral service of a trans woman there last week.

The church claimed it was duped into hosting the funeral on Thursday, Feb. 15, for Cecilia Gentili, a New York transgender activist who championed the rights of sex workers, AIDS patients and the LGBTQ community — and was eulogized as “St. Cecilia, mother of all whores” at her Manhattan service.

A Mass of Reparation was later necessary to repair and cleanse the church of sin over the funeral for the 52-year-old former sex worker from Argentina, Catholic officials said. This is a reflection of the Vatican’s unbending opposition to LGBTQ and transgender rights.

“Thanks to so many who have let us know they share our outrage over the scandalous behaviour at a funeral here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral earlier this week,” the Rev. Enrique Salvo said in a statement on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York on Saturday, Feb. 17.

“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,” Salvo wrote. “That such a scandal occurred at ‘America’s Parish Church’ makes it worse.”

Organizers of Gentili’s funeral said the church service is believed to have been the first for a transgender person at the famed cathedral.

More than 1,000 mourners, many of whom were transgender, with some donning miniskirts and fishnet stockings, packed the iconic cathedral for Gentili’s funeral, the New York Times reported.

Mass cards surrounded a photo of Gentili, pictured with a halo over her head and the words “transvestite,” “whore,” “blessed” and “mother” above the text of Psalm 25, as mourners at times danced in the aisles.

At one point during the service, a person dressed in a sleeveless top, looped earrings and a cowboy hat told the crowd of Gentili, “This great whore, St. Cecelia, mother of all whores … today we say we see you soon and that you will give us the strength, the courage to continue your legacy, to continue the challenges ahead.”

The speech received a standing ovation. The funeral also included a performance of “This Day” by actor Billy Porter before the service by Father Edward Dougherty and eulogies in both English and Spanish, Time Magazine reported.

Many people at the cathedral on Sunday, Feb. 18, said they didn’t see the funeral as a big deal.

“As a Catholic, I have no issue with it,” said Michael Horlan, a lawyer from Ireland who attended Sunday’s services. “[Trans people] are human beings like the rest of us. Jesus welcomed everybody. He didn’t say if you’re one thing or another, you’re outside the tent.”

Asked about the church’s anger over Gentili’s funeral, Horlan said that “everyone can’t be of the one viewpoint.

“Maybe it was just a mistake. We all make mistakes,” the worshipper said.

Mark Faulkner, who attended Mass with his wife, agreed.

“I consider all lives sacred. We all have shortcomings, and our Lord’s mercy covers all,” he said. “I think all people are sacred, and we are called to love our neighbour.”

British tourist Sam Myers, who is gay, said outside the church, “It’s difficult, isn’t it? “I do think it’s incompatible being queer and Catholic. A lot of queer people, we could call ourselves spiritual on a personal level. But it is a barrier.”

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