Protesters demand apology from Archdiocese of New York after funeral of transgender activist

Janice Yu Image
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Rally demands apology from Archdiocese after controversial funeral
Janice Yu has the latest.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A rally was held outside City Hall on Wednesday to demand an apology from St. Patrick's Cathedral after a controversial funeral last week.

It comes following the service at the church for a transgender activist and self-proclaimed atheist -- which the church has called deceptive and sacrilegious.

Those at the rally say the funeral was cut an hour short and they want an explanation as to why that happened. The family of Cecilia Gentili says the cathedral's decisions last week stemmed from anti-trans hatred.

The controversy started last Thursday at Gentili's funeral -- she was a leading activist for the transgender community, sex workers and those living with HIV. More than 1,000 people were at the service at St. Patrick's and they initially praised the church for being inclusive.

But the clergy members cut the service short over what they called scandalous behavior during the funeral.

RELATED | New York Archdiocese denounces St. Patrick's funeral service for transgender advocate

The Archdioceses of New York called it an insult to the Catholic faith and that it was not aware Gentili was transgender or that she was an atheist when they agreed to allow the funeral.

The group that organized the rally says it's not accurate to say those organizing the funeral manipulated members of the cathedral.

Some members of the transgender community say the funeral should have been a big step in the relationship between them and the Catholic church, but now tension is boiling over.

"But how dare you scream this blasphemy, how dare you attack us continuously for us living our true selves authentically," said Tiffany Jade Munroe with the Caribbean Equality Project

Cardinal Dolan says he stands by the actions of the members of the cathedral.

"Again, I applaud our priests who made a quick decision that with behavior like this, we can't do a Mass," Dolan said. "We'll do the Liturgy of the Word, which is the readings, and the sermon and the prayers, the petition and the Our Father, and then we'll stop it. The Mass is not going to go on. Bravo for our cathedral people who knew nothing about this that was coming up. And then of course it got worse with the eulogies, which were very irreverent and disrespectful."

Dolan asked the pastor to hold a special mass to pray for forgiveness for the funeral -- something that is done when there is a particularly sacrilegious event that happens in a church.

The group at the rally outside City Hall says the language used by the Archdiocese of New York further discriminates against a community that is already prone to violence.

The Catholic Church has long condemned queer and transgender people, but the Vatican recently announced trans people would be allowed to be baptized and serve as godparents in certain situations.

ALSO READ | St. Patrick's Cathedral funeral service for transgender advocate sparks controversy

Sonia Rincon has the story from Midtown.


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