A face off between a Christian protester and an opponent outside Dodger Stadium June 16. Protesters had gathered near the venue as the Los Angeles Dodgers prepared to honor the pro-LGBTQ+ group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence during Pride Night. OSV News photo/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Connect

Archbishop calls for 'respect' for others' beliefs

  • June 22, 2023

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez called for "respect for the belief of others" at a noon Mass hours before the Los Angeles Dodgers honoured a controversial drag group at its annual Pride Night event June 16.

"When God is insulted, when the beliefs of any of our neighbours are ridiculed, it diminishes all of us," said Gomez in his homily during Mass marking the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. "When we reward such acts, it hurts our unity as one city and one nation, as one family under God."

Nearly 2,000 people attended the Mass for healing and reparation as a response to the Dodgers' decision to honour the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a self-described "leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns" that routinely mocks Catholic figures and customs.

In his homily, Gomez said that only through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His love can Catholics and the Church persevere through persecution.

"Jesus commands us to forgive those who trespass against us, and to pray for those who persecute us," Gomez said. "And He taught us to oppose what is wrong and ugly, with what is beautiful and true. Just as He did."

Gomez said Catholics should use that love to continue doing works of charity and mercy for all.

"We prove our love by working for peace and justice for every person," Gomez said. "That is why so many of us are offended by the decision to honour a group that insults Jesus and mocks Catholic believers.

"We are teachers and healers. We are advocates for those our society neglects — the poor, the homeless, the prisoner, the unborn, the immigrant. We do this because we are Catholics, and we are called to love with the heart of Jesus."

In addition to the Mass, Gomez invited Catholics to pray the traditional Litany of the Sacred Heart for "reparation for the blasphemies against our Lord we see in our culture today."

Prior to the Dodgers' game, Catholics gathered in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium at 3 p.m. to protest with prayers, music and special guest speakers.

In a pregame Pride Night ceremony about an hour before their 7:10 p.m. face off against the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers honoured the LA chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with the team's Community Hero Award "for their outstanding service to the LGBTQ+ community."

The Dodgers invited the group, then disinvited it after complaints, only to re-invite the group for the game.

Meantime, the ball team said it will host a July 30 Christian Faith and Family Day. Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw called for the relaunch of the club's annual Christian event, which had been on pause since the COVID pandemic, after the team said it would proceed with feting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Many Catholics, however, said reinstating the Christian event would not allay concerns about honouring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

"This is not a quid pro quo," said Kathleen Domingo, executive director of the California Catholic Conference. "You can't have a night where you invite one group that is openly bigoted towards another, then invite that other group. Why do you have to encourage inclusivity at our expense?"

Kershaw himself took issue with his organization for its handling of the situation.

"I don't agree with making fun of other people's religions," Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times. "It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don't think that, no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else's religion."

His teammate, relief pitcher Blake Treinen, also disagreed with the team in a lengthy statement posted via a friend's Twitter account.

"I understand that playing baseball is a privilege, and not a right. My convictions in Jesus Christ will always come first," said Treinen.

He said the event "alienates the fans and supporters of the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and professional sports. People like baseball for its entertainment value and competition. The fans do not want propaganda or politics forced on them."

The LA Times reported there was "a strong police presence inside and outside the stadium." For a brief period before the game, police and security shut down the main entrance to Dodger Stadium as the protesters marched past.

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