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Transgender Funeral At St. Patrick’s Cathedral Is An Attack On The Church

transgender person speaking at Catholic funeral
Image CreditTrans Equity/YouTube

Funeral organizers deceptively kept church leaders in the dark to use a holy place to mock the teachings of Jesus.


St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, one of America’s most famous churches, is under fire after hosting a funeral for self-proclaimed atheist transgender activist Cecilia Gentili last week. Leadership at St. Patrick’s is now deeming the funeral a “scandal,” and for all Catholics, it certainly should be.

Gentili, 52, who was born a male and was baptized as a Catholic, founded Transgender Equity Consulting. The organizer of the funeral, Ceyenne Doroshow, admitted to keeping details about Gentili “under wraps” while scheduling the Mass at St. Patrick’s. Doroshow noted the deceased wanted the funeral to be at St. Patrick’s because the building was “an icon, just like her.”

The New York Times reported that nearly 1,000 people attended the funeral. Many were dressed inappropriately in provocative clothing, and the assembly erupted in applause and chants several times during the service. The coffin was brought up to the sanctuary to the entrance hymn, “Amazing Grace.” Fr. Edward Dougherty then welcomed everyone to the cathedral and noted that “except on Easter Sunday, we don’t really have a crowd that is this turned out” as he gave the congregation a thumbs-up. 

Small applause turned into screams and shouts by the crowd that were more suitable for a sports arena than a holy place of worship. Not long into the prayers offered, a server from the cathedral approached the priest and could be heard telling him, “No Mass, just a funeral service.” There were still readings and a homily that was followed by the Prayer of the Faithful.

The woman reading the petitions from her phone ended with a petition that prayed for “our community” to be understood, loved, and cared for. This specific intention ended with roars from the “crowd.” The end of the service included three eulogies. One began with screaming “Cecilia, Cecilia, Cecilia” as the crowd stood up and shouted the name in response. There was no reverence, no seriousness that prayers for a dead person should bring about.

Joseph Zwilling, the communications director for the Archdiocese of New York, said Cardinal Dolan and the cathedral only knew that a funeral was asked to be offered for a Catholic. They received no other information. That was the only information given, and they had no reason to believe otherwise. It is now obvious that Cecilia was extremely well-known in New York City for his transgender activism. Many are wondering whether the cathedral consistently neglects to ask questions about the deceased, especially when a non-family member is organizing the arrangements. 

In fact, the Code of Canon Law (§1184.3) notes that funerals ought to be denied to those who are “manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.” It seems that this would be a case, if it were known by the cathedral, for such a denial.

Fr. Enrique Salvo, the pastor of St. Patrick’s, released a statement on Feb. 17 explaining that the parish was only led to believe that a funeral Mass would be offered for someone who had died. We “had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way.”

Salvo said the fact that this happened on the second day of Lent “is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us.” A Mass or reparation was offered in response to the events that transpired last week. These Masses are offered in compensation to God for sins committed.

But questions remain. Will Cardinal Dolan address the scandal? Will there be an investigation into how funerals are arranged?

Funeral Masses are to pray for the repose of the souls of the people who have died because they are sinners, not saints. The prayers of the liturgy implore God’s mercy and forgiveness on the deceased. That is normal procedure, not the exception. Cecilia Gentili was Catholic. So it is not a question of whether he had the right to a Christian burial. The issue is the behavior of those who decided to use his funeral as a stage for supporting beliefs that are contrary to science, biology, psychology, and Catholic Church teaching. The issue is the intentional deception behind such actions.

Those who decided to use a holy place to mock the teachings of Jesus and the truth are the problem. Those involved were willing to hold back information that kept the church in the dark about even the sex of the deceased. The biggest problem is that so many do not even know why the church teaches against “love is love” as an anthem. It is not out of bigotry and hatred. It is not “anti-love.”

Biology cannot change. Sex is only possible between a man and a woman. Those two sentences explain the stance of Catholicism regarding so-called gender identity because they are rooted in truth and in how God created us. The funeral last week simply shows how far the misunderstanding has drifted.

As a Catholic, the behavior at the cathedral is very upsetting. What is even more upsetting, however, is the fact that truth and respect have become so foreign that some would degrade a person’s death to trample on the truth that the church proclaims.

That truth will not change, even if the attacks against it become increasingly belligerent, ignorant, and disrespectful.

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