Los Angeles archdiocese wakes up and smells the coffee after Dodgers cave in to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
In a classic "man bites dog" story, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has roused itself to speak out about the Los Angeles Dodgers' recission of its disinvitation to the Catholic-mocking bigots of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for honors at a Dodgers game. It's way more typical of the Catholic leaders in that city to simply say nothing.
Their statement was timid enough, not exactly naming names, and definitely using wokestery contexts of inclusion, but it did get the message across that this cave-in from the Dodgers to honor of a group that mocks Catholics isn't looked upon too warmly by the archbishop and his own.
The decision to honor a group that clearly mocks the Catholic faith and makes light of the sincere and holy vocations of our women religious who are an integral part of our Church is what has caused disappointment, concern, anger, and dismay from our Catholic community. The ministries and vocations of our religious women should be honored and celebrated through genuine acts of appreciation, reverence, and respect for their sacred vows, and for all the good works of our nuns and sisters in service of the mission of the Catholic Church. From providing a quality education for inner city students, to serving the sick, the homeless, the hungry and so many others in need, to caring for the souls of our faithful through prayer, our women religious have dedicated their lives to the Catholic faith and mission, sharing God’s loving grace with others. The Archdiocese stands against any actions that would disparage and diminish our Christian faith and those who dedicate their lives to Christ.
The Archdiocese calls on all Catholics and people of goodwill to stand against bigotry and hate in any form and to stand for respect for one another and for the religious beliefs of our communities of faith.
A far more spirited defense can be heard from Bill Donohue, the feisty, straight-talking president of the Catholic League:
YouTube videos show the group in action, with an amazing array of obscene antics and blasphemies. Depictions of pervy "Jesus" characters pole-dancing on the cross and other sickening mockeries are difficult for any person of faith to look at, so I won't post the videos. They can be seen here, here, and here. In this one, they also mock Judaism, Sikhism, and the World War II Iwo Jima memorial. In this one, they engage in mob censorship of a woman they don't agree with.
They've been at it attempting to insinuate themselves into the berths of Catholicism itself for years. Here is a 1980 article from my old Jesuit University of San Francisco's Foghorn student newspaper archives about their activist protests at the school over the listing of a gay group at the law school. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote about that here.
What could have roused the archdiocese to stick up for itself and its Catholic members?
Two things stand out: one, the archdiocese said it had been hearing from people about this matter.
Who might that mean? Very likely the Hispanic community, which populates the majority, by far, of the gargantuan archdiocese in that region. The 1980 Foghorn piece, written by news editor Walter Neary, notes that the group mocks Catholicism by wearing the habits of 17th-century Belgian nuns. The drag group doesn't mock guitar-Mass Catholics, after all; it mocks the archaic versions of Catholicism in the voluminous nun habits that are most frequently valued and practiced in Latino cultures such as Spain, Belgium, France, Portugal, and Italy. The Catholicism the group mocks is Latino Catholicism, and the Latinos and Hispanics know it. Hispanics also are the Los Angeles Dodgers' biggest fans, which makes the issue potent as a cultural flashpoint. It's not for nothing that people of all races and ethnicities in Los Angeles affectionately call the Dodgers "Los Doyers."
The second thing eminent in the message is the archdiocese's strong stance on the group's insults, directly focused on the nuns of the parish, rather than the other people in it.
That's a big one, too. First of all, everything in the archdiocese's statement is true about the nuns and their authentic charity work and self-sacrifice for the community. The nuns I know in Los Angeles take vows of poverty and give their all to serve others, helping the poor, the single mothers, the people getting out of jail or in jail, the homeless, the kids, the migrants, the needy of all kinds. Even the left-leaning nuns in are genuinely good people living for others and fully focused on charity and selflessness. (They don't treat right-wingers badly, either.) Their lives are lives of discipline and attention to God's will.
The drag group mocking them, by contrast, is none of that. Their community service, based on the YouTube videos I had to run through, was stuff like something they call their "condom ministry."
Many of the authentic nuns have been active in the archdiocese attempting to push for changes such as greater visibility and leadership for women in the Church as well as female priests. I don't agree with much of that stuff, but they are within their rights to do it, and I can accept that they are acting in good faith. Bottom line here: they are a major pressure group on the archdiocese, and there's little doubt that the archbishop was hearing from them, too. Archbishop José H. Gómez, who leads it, knows he needs to keep them happy, because they do a lot of the heavy lifting in the Church itself.
A third thing that might be going on is a bit cynical but, if so, a positive development: Archbishop Gomez, who is said to be middle-of-the-road, and generally timid, was recently passed over for a cardinal's hat in favor of very liberal San Francisco–born and bred Bishop Robert McElroy, now of San Diego. The Catholic press has reported that Gómez was disappointed. With no cardinal's cap in sight, could it be that Gómez is finding courage to speak up for the Church, now that he doesn't need to please the lefty church hierarchy that has already passed him over? What does he have to lose now if he does? Maybe it's easier for him now that it doesn't matter what the woke Church hierarchy thinks of such a statement, because it's already shot its bolt. Yes, cynical, but if so, maybe Gómez will find his courage even more as the leftist tide gets ever more outrageous and out of control. There's no need to tolerate anti-Catholic bigots focused on two key constituencies, so yeah, he's saying something, and standing up for what's right, too.
Image: Screen shot from Archbishop JOSE GOMEZ Flickr page, CC BY 2.0.