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Catholic church that hosted trans atheist's funeral knew about activist's background, family claims — and demands apology
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Catholic church that hosted trans atheist's funeral knew about activist's background, family claims — and demands apology

The Catholic church that recently came under scrutiny for hosting a funeral for a trans-identifying atheist allegedly knew about the activist's background, according to family members, the New York Post reported.

The family of Cecilia Gentili is demanding an apology from the archdiocese after St. Patrick's Cathedral claimed it was tricked into hosting a funeral service for the 52-year-old Argentinian-born activist who advocated for the trans community, sex workers, and HIV/AIDs patients.

Last Thursday, the New York City cathedral held a funeral service for Gentili with more than 1,000 people in attendance, Blaze News previously reported. The service began with a performance of "This Day" by actor Billy Porter, and guests danced in the aisles, according to the New York Times. A photograph of Gentili featured a halo over her head surrounded by the words "transvestite," "whore," "blessed," and "mother." During the service, Gentili was introduced as "St. Cecilia, mother of all whores." From the pulpit, attendees called for easier access to so-called gender-affirming health care services.

According to Rev. Enrique Salvo, St. Patrick's Cathedral was duped into hosting the service and was unaware that Gentili identified as a trans atheist. Salvo called attendees' behavior at the funeral "scandalous."

"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 stated.

Ceyenne Doroshow, the event's organizer, told the Times that she did not inform the church that Gentili was a man who identified as a woman. Instead, Doroshow said she "kept it under wraps."

However, Gentili's family claim they did not deceive the church into hosting the service. Now, the family are demanding an apology from the Archdiocese of New York for "cutting short" the funeral service. They also want an apology for "the painfully dismissive and exclusionary language" used in Salvo's statement.

Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society said in a recent statement, "The current narrative from St. Patrick's Cathedral leadership that they were manipulated by funeral organizers of the identity of Ms. Gentili is simply not true."

"Funeral organizers advised cathedral staff to look up Cecilia Gentili, her work, and the community she served. To now place responsibility on the funeral organizers to have affirmatively disclosed the gender identity of their loved one is imposing a burden upon the mourners that would not be expected of a non-transgender person," the organization added.

The group further accused St. Patrick's Cathedral of violating Catholic Canon Law by conducting the service without a Mass, a quick decision made by the priests. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, told Catholic News Agency that the judgment to go with the shorter funeral service "was made by the priests at the cathedral after witnessing what was taking place."

"Still reeling from the pain of Cecilia's loss, community members are asking for an explanation for this decision which seemingly violated Catholic Canon Law governing the denial of funeral [M]asses," the organization continued. "Ms. Gentili's service ended an hour earlier than had been scheduled, thus denying her the full funeral Mass that was agreed upon."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said Tuesday that he supported the church's decision to forgo a Mass.

"We didn't know the background. We don't do FBI checks on people who want to be buried," Dolan explained.

"I applaud our priests who made a quick decision that, 'Uh-oh, with behavior like this, we can't do a Mass. We'll do the Liturgy of the Word, which is the readings, and the sermon, and the prayers of petition, and the Our Father, and then we'll stop it. The Mass is not going to go on,'" Dolan added. "Bravo for our cathedral people, who knew nothing about this that was coming up."

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →