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New York Archdiocese Criticizes Transgender Activist’s Funeral, Conducts Mass of Reparation


The funeral of a well-known transgender activist in a New York cathedral sparked criticism from a senior church official, who described the mass as a scandal within one of the leading houses of worship in US Catholicism.

The funeral of Cecilia Gentili, held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, received criticism from The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York despite drawing a large audience on Thursday.

Gentili was recognized for her strong support of other transgender individuals, sex workers, and people living with HIV. An announcement of her passing was made on her Instagram account on Feb. 6 at the age of 52.

Reverend Enrique Salvo, the pastor of Saint Patrick’s, expressed gratitude in a statement released on Saturday to those who had alerted the church about their shared outrage regarding the scandalous behavior at the funeral.

Cathedral Responds to Disrespectful Funeral Incident With Mass of Reparation

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 08: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan speaks during Cardinal Dolan’s annual SiriusXM Christmas special on The Catholic Channel at The Sheen Center on December 08, 2022 in New York City.

“The Cathedral was informed that family and friends wanted a funeral Mass for a Catholic, but they were not expecting their welcome and prayer to be disrespected in such a sacrilegious and deceitful manner,” Salvo stated.

The cathedral hosted a Mass of Reparation after the funeral as directed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, Salvo mentioned.

He expressed deep concern about the scandal happening at a significant church and during the Lenten season, emphasizing the importance of prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy during this sacred time.

After working as a sex worker and facing addiction and incarceration at Rikers Island, she transitioned into a role as a transgender health program coordinator. She later became a policy director for a well-known gay men’s health organization, GMHC, and advocated for health equality and anti-discrimination legislation.

Gentili established the COIN Clinic, which stands for Cecilia’s Occupational Inclusion Network, a complimentary health program for individuals in the sex work industry in collaboration with the Callen-Lorde community health organization in New York.

“New York’s LGBTQ+ community has lost a champion in trans icon Cecilia Gentili,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul shared on X, formerly Twitter, after Gentili’s passing.

Gentili starred in the FX television series “Pose,” which revolves around the underground ballroom dance scene in the 1980s and 1990s. She additionally showcased two solo stage productions.

“I am an atheist, yet I find myself frequently requesting things from a higher power,” Gentili shared in “Red Ink,” her autobiographical performance that delves into her upbringing in Argentina and her disbelief in religion.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan is not only an architectural and tourist landmark but has also hosted funerals for several prominent New Yorkers, such as Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth, and emergency responders who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Footage from Gentili’s funeral service captures over 1,000 attendees, with transgender individuals and other companions cheering, singing, and honoring her as a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community.

“We rarely see such a well-dressed crowd, except on Easter Sunday,” Father Edward Dougherty commented as he led the mass.

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