Cardinal Timothy Dolan is known for his homophobia. However, he took it to new lengths when he used the New York City Police Department to bar LGBT Catholics and their allies from worshipping at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The upheaval began as a protest to Cardinal Dolan’s “All are Welcome!” speech, in which he told gay Catholics that they can participate in the faith but must first “wash their hands.” The protesters, a group of about ten, labeled what they did a “Dirty Hands Vigil.” From Joseph Amodeo, organizer of the protest:
As we reached St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we were approached by Kevin Donohue, who identified himself as being in charge of operations for the cathedral. Sadly, Mr. Donohue’s tone was both cold and scolding. What astounded me most was when he said that we could enter the cathedral so long as we washed our hands first. Even now, writing those words I find myself struggling to understand their meaning, while coming to terms with their exclusionary nature.
It was at this moment that Mr. Donohue advised us that if we entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral with dirty hands, we would be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Upon hearing those words, I remember standing there thinking, ?How can I be charged with criminal trespassing in my own home?? It was then that I realized what it meant to be spiritually homeless. This realization was particularly difficult for me in light of the private meeting that I had with Cardinal Dolan on November 27, 2012, at his office in Manhattan. It was during that meeting that he expressed such love and welcome that I find his subsequent ?conditional welcome? to be difficult to understand.
In response to the Archdiocese’s threat of arrest, we opted to remain outside where we stood in silent vigil with our palms turned out facing toward the main doors of Cathedral. As the start of the Mass drew near, the temporary steel doors that mark the front of the Cathedral while the original doors are refurbished, seemed to be symbolically appropriate. The cold steel and the means by which the doors closed as we stood outside seem now to capture well the chill that we felt from the Cathedral’s staff as well as the Cardinal. Our peaceful presence was responded to with a resounding ?you are not welcome.?
Now, it is my feeling that anyone who is, oh, not living under a rock these days, knows that LGBT people have never been and likely never will be welcome in the Catholic Church. Of course, there are individual Catholics, many of them in fact, who are just fine with LGBT people and are awesome allies. However, the Church’s official stance is that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin, and that we are not welcome. That in and of it self would be enough to keep me away, never mind the rest of the atrocities protected and perpetuated by that institution, but ?that is just me. I suppose there is, perhaps, something to be said for changing things from the inside out. So, to that end, the reaction to the protest should surprise no one.
Amodeo, who resigned from the board of NYC’s Catholic Charities, says to?The New Civil Rights Movement??that the “action on the part of the Archdiocese of New York stands in contrast to the radical welcome that Jesus Christ proclaimed throughout his ministry.? He went on to say that it is??sad that the Cardinal is unable to extend the absolute welcome that forms the basis of Christian theology.?
He went on to explain that the gathering was not a protest, but a “vigil.” Also, there were no arrests. His final word on the issue was:
Although it is not clear who made the decision to ban us from entering the Cathedral, as the seat of the Archbishop, he had to be aware of the situation.?At a minimum, the Rector of the Cathedral had to be involved in making this decision.?The NYPD did confirm that if we entered the Cathedral, we would be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing ? a felony.
How Christlike of Cardinal Dolan and the NYPD. Arresting people for wanting to go to church as they are. Isn’t that what Jesus wanted? Then again, it’s crap like this – never mind my personal beliefs not lining up with those teachings – that drove me away from church, and it is what is continuing to drive others away in droves.
Edited by AEK
Published by CB