In response to a column that rabid Catholic homophobe Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s wrote last week in which he suggested that LGBT people were welcome in the church so long as they “washed their hands” of the sin of being gay, a small group of gay Catholics gathered on the corner of East 46th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan with a simple purpose, to dirty their hands with ash and attend Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in protest.
Symbolic and peaceful? Yes. But hardly an anarchistic and disruptive event.
Regardless Cardinal Dollan not only barred that small group of 10 from entering the cathedral but also threatened them with arrest by the NYPD if they did.
It is what transpired in the moments after soiling our hands that I have trouble understanding and placing in the context of the Christian experience. At around 9:30am, the ten of us gathered were greeted by four police cars, eight uniformed officers, a police captain, and a detective from the Police Commissioner’s LGBT liaison unit. The detective informed us that the Cathedral would prohibit us to enter because of our dirty hands. It was at that moment that I realized the power of fear. The Archdiocese of New York was responding out of fear to a peaceful and silent presence at Mass. Even in light of this, we decided that we would walk solemnly from our gathering spot to the Cathedral with hopes that we might be welcomed.
As we reached St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we were approached by Kevin Donohue, who identified himself as being in charge of operations for the cathedral. Sadly, Mr. Donohue’s tone was both cold and scolding. What astounded me most was when he said that we could enter the cathedral so long as we washed our hands first. Even now, writing those words I find myself struggling to understand their meaning, while coming to terms with their exclusionary nature.
It was at this moment that Mr. Donohue advised us that if we entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral with dirty hands, we would be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Upon hearing those words, I remember standing there thinking, “How can I be charged with criminal trespassing in my own home?” It was then that I realized what it meant to be spiritually homeless. This realization was particularly difficult for me in light of the private meeting that I had with Cardinal Dolan on November 27, 2012, at his office in Manhattan. It was during that meeting that he expressed such love and welcome that I find his subsequent “conditional welcome” to be difficult to understand.
Not only is this one of the most unchristian thing done. Dolan’s reaction of physically shuting the doors and threatening arrest of the group reveals exactly how shallow and sinister his and the Catholic hierarchy’s mind operates
Jxactly how does Cardinal Dolan justify and get the NYPD to help block these people entry to the church. They were being quiet and peaceful, they were not even carrying signs, and, except for the ash on their hands, they were behaving the same as every other parishioner that morning.
Can the NYPD even justify being used to bar a group of homosexuals from the Church other than the fact that they were gay. And why did the NYPD go along with it and why are they not being called out for it?
In the words of Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King, in his Drum Major Sermon, ” And any church that violates the “whosoever will, let him come” doctrine is a dead, cold church, (Yes) and nothing but a little social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.”