Adobe Stock | Inset: TransEquity / YouTube

The New York Archdiocese has responded to criticism after reviewing “scandalous” behavior at the funeral of transgender activist Cecilia Gentili at St. Patrick Cathedral in Manhattan. Gentili, an atheist and man identifying as a woman, was an advocate for transgender rights, sex workers, and people living with HIV. Gentili’s funeral was attended by over 1000 people, including celebrities like Billy Porter, a gay man who has made headlines for appearing at celebrity events in intricate dresses. Porter sang at the funeral with a song that Catholic Vote of “mocking the Our Father prayer.” “They only allow this mockery of the Christian faith. The people who allow it hate you,” wrote the conservative Catholic Vote. Gentili was also eulogized as “This whore. This great whore. St. Cecilia, Mother of all Whores!”

In a statement released by the archdiocese, Rev. Enrique Salvo called the funeral “scandalous” and stated the archdiocese had been deceived in regards to who Gentili was. “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,” wrote Salvo. He stated that the funeral having taken place at the start of the Lenten season, “is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us.” He ended that there would be a Mass of Reparation to cleanse the Cathedral. Speaking to The Washington Post, New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling insisted that the statement condemned “the behavior of some of those in attendance at the funeral” and not Gentili’s gender identity.

Organizers of the funeral insisted that it was not meant to mock St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “There was no incident when anyone said anything disrespectful about the church or God or Jesus,” said Katia Perea, one of the organizers. Another organizer, Ceyenne Doroshow, stated Saint Patrick’s was chosen to highlight the struggle between queer people and religion. “The immediate reason was [Gentili’s] ongoing confliction with the church and how the church perceives and treats us as a people. And for somebody who had been fighting church, religion and state almost her whole life, it was fitting, for me, to make that happen,” said Doroshow. Regarding the Cathedral being deceived about Gentili, a statement from Gentili’s family said the only deception was from the church. “Cecilia Gentili’s funeral … was a reflection of the love she had for her community and a testament to the impact of her tireless advocacy. The only deception present at St Patrick’s Cathedral is that it claims to be a welcoming place for all.”

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