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Nearly 2,000 attend Mass for ‘healing and reparation’ in response to the Dodgers’ decision to honor Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez presides at a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels June 16, 2023, celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers game and its Pride Night, during which the team was honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a self-described "leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns" that routinely mocks Catholic figures and customs. (OSV News photo/John Rueda/Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez called for “respect for the belief of others” at a noon Mass hours before the Los Angeles Dodgers honored a controversial drag group at its annual Pride Night event.

“When God is insulted, when the beliefs of any of our neighbors are ridiculed, it diminishes all of us,” said Archbishop Gomez in his homily during Mass marking the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. “When we reward such acts, it hurts our unity as one city and one nation, as one family under God.”

Nearly 2,000 people attended the Mass for healing and reparation as a response to the Dodgers’ decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a self-described “leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns” that routinely mocks Catholic figures and customs.

In his homily, Archbishop Gomez said that only through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his love can Catholics and the church persevere through persecution.

“Jesus commands us to forgive those who trespass against us, and to pray for those who persecute us,” Archbishop Gomez said. “And he taught us to oppose what is wrong and ugly, with what is beautiful and true. Just as he did.”

Archbishop Gomez said Catholics should use that love to continue doing works of charity and mercy for all.

“We prove our love by working for peace and justice for every person,” Archbishop Gomez said. “That is why so many of us are offended by the decision to honor a group that insults Jesus and mocks Catholic believers.

“We are teachers and healers. We are advocates for those our society neglects — the poor, the homeless, the prisoner, the unborn, the immigrant. We do this because we are Catholics, and we are called to love with the heart of Jesus.”

In addition to the Mass, Archbishop Gomez invited Catholics to pray the traditional Litany of the Sacred Heart for “reparation for the blasphemies against our Lord we see in our culture today.”

Archbishop Gomez also took the opportunity to urge a return to American principles.

“Religious freedom and respect for the beliefs of others are hallmarks of our nation,” he said in his homily.

Although the Dodgers have hosted these special game nights for the gay and lesbian community for more than 10 years, this year the team decided to mark the event with an award to the LA chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

That decision sparked protests from Catholics around the country, including a call from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for Catholics to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart that day for “reparation for the blasphemies against our Lord we see in our culture today.”

Prior to the Dodgers’ game against the San Francisco Giants, Catholics gathered in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium at 3 p.m. to protest with prayers, music and special guest speakers in an event sponsored by Catholic Vote and the Phoenix-based lay group Catholics for Catholics outside of Dodger Stadium that Friday afternoon before the 7:10 p.m. start of the game. Counter-protesters also were present, according to media reports and Reuters photos of the event.

In a pregame Pride Night ceremony about an hour before the first pitch officially started the game, the Dodgers honored the “Sisters” with the team’s Community Hero Award “for their outstanding service to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The crowd in the stadium during the ceremony was small but for the game itself — the first of a three-day series — the Dodgers reported an above-average turnout, with 49,074 people in attendance. According to Baseball reference, which includes attendance data of games, the team’s Pride Night last year had 52,505 attendees. (The Giants swept the three-game series, outscoring the Dodgers 29-8 over the weekend.)

Many lifelong Catholics who also were lifelong Dodger fans said they felt betrayed by the franchise over its award to the “Sisters.” Annie Hagan fondly remembers going to Dodger Stadium as a child and later taking her own children there. Now she won’t go back, she told Angelus, the archdiocesan news outlet.

“It makes me cry. Dodger Stadium was always a family friendly place,” said Hagan, a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newport Beach. “Now it’s not. They’re honoring people who are blasphemous against the Catholic Church at a place that St. Pope John Paul II blessed.”

Hagan was referring to the time when the Polish pontiff celebrated Mass on the field of Dodger Stadium during his visit to Los Angeles in 1988.

Originally, the Dodgers had announced they would honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for their charity work, but after an outcry from many Catholics, canceled plans for the on-field tribute.

The team reversed course again following swift, widespread criticism in the media and from “LGBT” advocacy groups, apologizing to the Sisters and asking them to accept the Community Hero Award June 16 before the Friday night game.

The team also announced it would be bringing back a “Christian Faith and Family Day” July 30. But some of the faithful at the cathedral said they weren’t sure if that would be enough. Still, they took it all as a moment to evangelize.

Tom Schroeter flew to Los Angeles from Houston. The retired attorney says he felt compelled to attend the Mass and later, the “Prayerful Procession” outside Dodger Stadium.

“Somebody has to stick up for Jesus and for Mary and for all Catholic nuns … it’s pretty simple,” said Schroeter, a parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel in Houston. “We have to pray for each other … I want to remove any anger from my heart.”

Sister Mary Colette Theobald, a Sister of Notre Dame, said she’s not angry but is pained by the images put out by the faux nuns. She said it’s “just wrong” to be hateful toward things that are so sacred to Catholics.

“It hurts a lot, it really hurts a lot,” said Sister Theobald told Angelus.. “Because these things like the habit are so special to us … I’ve seen pictures of this group dressing up in horribly provocative ways.”

The cathedral erupted in applause when Archbishop Gomez acknowledged the many sisters present at Mass. Outside he posed for pictures with some of the sisters, while others received blessings from archdiocesan priests.