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The scandal is the point

A funeral event at St. Patrick’s Cathedral illustrates transgression for transgression’s sake

Pallbearers bring the coffin of Cecilia Gentili into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Feb. 15. Getty Images/Photo by Stephanie Keith

The scandal is the point
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The archdiocese of New York has condemned a headline-making funeral in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, held last Thursday for Argentinian-American transgender activist “Cecilia” Gentili, 52. Viral snippets from the service showed the pews packed with lobbyists, entertainment figures, and younger activists, including many men in drag. The crowd cheered raucously as friends and family took turns reading Scripture and giving eulogies, vowing to continue Gentili’s fight for trans “equality” and “care.” One especially shocking eulogy, even more offensive in its original Spanish, crowned Gentili “the mother of all whores,” in honor of his prostitution advocacy and years spent as a prostitute himself. 

Celebrant Fr. Edward Dougherty serenely carried on amidst the chaos, smiling and using female pronouns for Gentili throughout. Another priest quietly instructed him to cut things short without offering a full mass, but the damage had been done. At Cardinal Dolan’s directive, the parish later held a rare Mass of Reparation for the service, which broke canon law against funerals held for “a manifest sinner who will create public scandal.”

Per a statement from Rector Enrique Salvo, the funeral was initially requested under the false pretense that Gentili was a believing Catholic, even though he was openly atheist. This made an extended lie of the whole liturgy, which is structured around celebration that the Lord’s “departed servant” has “fallen asleep in Christ.” However, fellow trans activist “Ceyenne” Doroshow claims that he invited staff to google Gentili and learn about his activism when they requested more information. Apparently, no one did, or at least no one who would have cared. The result was a disaster, albeit an impressive piece of political theater.

This isn’t the first time St. Patrick’s has been a flashpoint for gay activist theater. At the height of the AIDS epidemic in December 1989, the gay men’s group ACT UP marched into the iconic cathedral while the much-hated conservative Cardinal O’Connor was celebrating mass. Police stood ready to arrest the loudest protesters as they tried to drown out O’Connor’s homily. A separate group of activists waited quietly until the administration of Communion, then one by one made defiant statements as they received the host. One took the extra shocking step of crumbling it up and throwing it away, which even made a few of his fellow protesters a bit uneasy. 

Of course, the difference between 1989 and 2024 is clear. In 1989, the activists were an angry and unwelcome minority. In 2024, they can gleefully fill 100 percent of the pew space, and the priest will play along. Indeed, there are many priests who would play along. Every year, they conduct Pride masses like this one that are, in their own way, no less blasphemous. This crew was just a bit more vulgar about it.

But according to the keepers of Cecilia Gentili’s legacy, Catholics like John Green don’t exist. They can’t exist. Otherwise, a whole narrative unravels.

“Y’all may have heard the story that Jesus ministered to all,” said Cayenne Doroshow in his eulogy. “Cecilia ministered to all.” Here Doroshow deliberately distorts and hollows out the gospel, continuing the service’s plunder of Scripture and liturgy. This encapsulates the parasitic essence of LGBT ideology as a substitute religion, never content with building its own sacred spaces. It must hijack and claim old spaces, old liturgies, old stories. 

The family released a furious counter-statement to Rev. Salvo’s statement, calling the service an act of “defiance” against “the Church’s hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred.” They contrast Gentili’s advocacy for vulnerable people in the LGBT underworld with conservative Catholics’ “sanctimonious” refusal to serve them. This exemplifies how the radical left always places good-hearted orthodox Christians in a bind. They demand that conservatives increase targeted ministry to a sexually confused demographic, yet they make the affirmation of confusion a precondition of that ministry.

Watching this mock “service,” I remembered reading and writing about a superficially similar yet very different funeral service, also organized for a former male prostitute. It was arranged by a Chicago-based ministry called Emmaus, which offered shelter and practical support for men trying to escape the trade. Founder John Green would later recall how the pews were filled with a motley crew of male and female hookers, addicts, and homeless people, all of whom the dead young man had touched in some way. The icing on the cake was a female cop who dropped in just to sing “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” This was neither the first nor the last funeral of its kind that Green conducted, over years of faithful ministry during which he never once compromised on basic Catholic doctrine about sexuality.

But according to the keepers of Cecilia Gentili’s legacy, Catholics like Green don’t exist. They can’t exist. Otherwise, a whole narrative unravels.

“Cecilia is an atheist,” says an ad for Gentili’s so-called “one-woman show” Red Ink, “but God won’t give up on her. Unfortunately, neither will the Devil.” It was meant to be irreverent, yet it wound up all too tragically fitting. This troubled man’s life and death are a sobering reminder that good and evil are constantly contending over the fate of every soul. May Catholics and Protestants alike remain as vigilant as we are compassionate, never sacrificing the one virtue for the other.

Bethel McGrew

Bethel McGrew is a math Ph.D. and widely published freelance writer. Her work has appeared in First Things, National Review, The Spectator, and many other national and international outlets. Her Substack, Further Up, is one of the top paid newsletters in “Faith & Spirituality” on the platform. She has also contributed to two essay anthologies on Jordan Peterson. When not writing social criticism, she enjoys writing about literature, film, music, and history.


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