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Trans activists accused of 'hate crime' with 'deceptive' funeral at St. Patrick's, but organizers want apology
February 23 2024, 08:00

NEW YORK CITY – The transgender activist group that surreptitiously planned a funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a transgender atheist held a press conference on Wednesday calling for an apology from the cathedral for ending the ceremony early. Some Catholic groups, however, are demanding an investigation and calling the event a "hate crime."

The Feb. 15 funeral, in honor of a transgender atheist known as Cecilia Gentili, an Argentinian-born activist who advocated for the trans community as well as sex workers and HIV/AIDS patients, included what some Catholics viewed as a mockery of their religion during the ceremony at the iconic New York City cathedral. Gentili died on Feb. 6 at age 52.

More than 1,000 people attended the funeral, and it sparked community outrage due to the service's focus on praying for transgender rights and gender-affirming health care. As part of the celebration, the attendees called Gentili a saint stating in Spanish, "this whore. This great whore. St. Cecilia, Mother of all Whores!" 

At one point during the ceremony, the lyrics of "Ave Maria" were changed to "Ave Cecilia," according to the Daily Mail. A picture of a haloed Gentili surrounded by the Spanish words for "transvestite," "whore," "blessed" and "mother" was also featured above the text of Psalm 25, according to a picture from the event. 

Now, Gentili's family is hitting back, claiming the cathedral did know the funeral was for a trans activist and former sex worker, stating "the only deception present at St. Patrick's Cathedral is that it claims to be a welcoming place for all," adding that the funeral service had "brought precious life and radical joy to the Cathedral in historic defiance of the Church's hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred," the Daily Mail reported. 

Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S.), which organized the funeral and press conference, is headed by Ceyenne Doroshow, who told the New York Times that she didn't mention that Gentili was transgender to St. Patrick's, saying, "I kind of kept it under wraps." The LGBT activists who attended the funeral publicly admitted in videos posted to social media that the church did not know Gentili was transgender. 

Still, the trans group demanded an apology and accountability from St. Patrick's for cutting the funeral Mass short and for its "incendiary rhetoric that contributes to further discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities who are already at disproportionate risk of violence and premature death," according to a press release shared with Fox News Digital. 

In a statement provided to Fox News Digital, G.L.I.T.S. said, "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 statement said.

CatholicVote, the nation's largest lay Catholic advocacy group, sent a letter to New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday, demanding she conduct an investigation into the incident to determine if those responsible broke the law by gaining access to the church through intentional deception. 

Brian Burch, president of Catholic Vote, argued in the letter to AG James that the display by the activists violated New York’s hate crimes law, which states that selecting the victim of a criminal trespass based on a religion or religious practice is a hate crime.

"Catholics in New York and across the nation are horrified and deeply wounded by this transgender group's actions: using deception to desecrate St. Patrick's Cathedral in the form of a sacrilegious, vile mockery of our faith," Burch told Fox News Digital in a statement. "These extremists’ repulsive actions — including declaring the transgender prostitute Cecilia Gentili a ‘Great Whore’ and ‘Saint Cecilia, Mother of all Whores!’ — are profoundly hurtful and anti-Catholic." 

"In New York, gaining entry to a property using deception is a crime, and we demand that those responsible are held accountable," he added. "CatholicVote has formally requested that Attorney General Letitia James conduct a thorough investigation into this matter immediately and we encourage the Archdiocese of New York to do the same."

In a statement following the event, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Pastor, the Rev. Enrique Salvo, said the cathedral "had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way." In response, he said they have "offered an appropriate Mass of Reparation" at the Cardinal’s directive, which is carried out to re-sanctify the church after scandalous activity.

Fox News contributor Jonathan Morris, who was previously a Catholic priest, fleshed out the argument further, arguing the problem with the funeral was not that Gentili was transgender.

Instead, he wrote, the problem was "neither she nor the people who requested the funeral on her behalf, wanted the Church to pray for her redemption and salvation. They don't believe what the Church believes… about God, about sin, or even about Catholic funerals!"

Burch echoed this sentiment, calling out the activists for claiming the situation is about his transgender identity. 

"The activists that orchestrated the sacrilegious funeral at St. Patrick's cathedral are attempting to distract from their deceitful actions by claiming they had no obligation to disclose the sexual habits of the deceased," he said. "That's not the issue; the Church celebrates funerals for sinners every day."

"The desecration of the cathedral had nothing to do with the sexual deviancy of the deceased man and his self-proclaimed transsexual identity, but everything to do with the blasphemy, mockery, and misuse of a Catholic place of worship to denigrate the beliefs of Catholics," he added. "The mass of reparation was said not because a transsexual funeral service was held, but to atone for the blasphemous mockery of Catholic beliefs inside of a sacred space."

"In life, Gentili vocally expressed her disbelief in God and rejected the notion of the need for divine forgiveness of sins," he said. "She was a well-known advocate for these beliefs. For her family and friends to use the most prominent Catholic cathedral in the United States as a stage to mock the very essence of a funeral mass is tasteless and sacrilegious."

In addition, he said it "does nothing for the next transgender person (or any public sinner) who genuinely wants a funeral mass, for all the right reasons."

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan criticized the "irreverence and the disrespect" of funeral attendees.

"We didn't know the background," Dolan said in a radio interview this week. "We don't do FBI checks on people who want to be buried."


In a letter to Cardinal Dolan, G.L.I.T.S. addressed media coverage of the event. 

"We now read in the press that the funeral has been described as ‘sacrilegious’ and a ‘mass of reparation’ has been celebrated as a way of addressing this so-called improper act and ‘cleansing’ the Cathedral," the letter said. "These actions and attitudes only add insult to injury for those of us who knew and loved Ms. Gentili."

"We respectfully request an explanation for this rash decision made, which deprived a funeral mass seemingly against Catholic Canon Law and sent a message to some of the most discriminated people in New York City and around the world that they are not welcome in the church," the letter concluded. 


In Rev. Salvo's statement addressing the situation, he noted the timing of the event and the season of Lent, stating that what "makes it worse" is "that it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual 40-day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us."

But the transgender activist organizers behind Wednesday's press conference interpreted the statement to mean that he was "Alluding to the presence of trans and the LGTBQ+ community at large as ‘forces of sin and darkness,’" calling it "incendiary rhetoric that contributes to further discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities who are already at disproportionate risk of violence and premature death."