By Father Patrick Briscoe, O.P.
The L.A. Dodgers will be honoring the so-called “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” after all. After a back-and-forth that caught national attention, the baseball franchise has ultimately decided to present the Community Hero Award to the LGBTQ activist group at the stadium’s Pride Night, to be held June 16.
For those who are not aware, the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” are a group of gay men who dress in drag as Catholic religious sisters and who self-describe as “a leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns.”
When the Dodgers first announced the honor, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Catholic, was one of the first public figures to oppose the Dodgers’ invitation. In a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Rubio asked: “Do you believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are being ‘inclusive and welcoming to everyone’ by giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians — and not only Christians, but nuns, who devote their lives to serving others?”
The senator’s question hits the ball out of the park. The problem with honoring the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” is that the group, at its core, is founded on a mockery of the Catholic faith. The group’s motto — “Go forth and sin some more” — is directly derived from Jesus’ words in the Gospel (cf. Jn 8:11), words that echo what practicing Catholics hear said in the confessional.
Other Catholics took to the public square, and the Dodgers rescinded the invitation.
But then pressure mounted from the other side. Publications like Rolling Stone churned out articles with titles like, “Conservatives Bully L.A. Dodgers Into Dropping Charity Drag Group from Pride Night.” But for Catholics, this is a matter of the integrity of our faith. How dare the Dodgers consent to this kind of bigotry that demeans the contributions Catholic sisters have made to our society!
While members of the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” may well have performed laudable charitable work — namely, caring for AIDS patients at the height of the outbreak — that service is inextricable from the fundamentally anti-Catholic character of the group, which was founded on Easter Sunday 1979.
Caving to pressure from the LGBTQ lobby, the Dodgers decided to reinvite the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.” In reissuing the invitation to the group, the Dodgers apologized to the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” and members of the LGBTQ community. But what about Catholics? What about our sisters?
The Dodgers’ decision is a political one — one that calculates it is easier to offend Catholics and mock the Catholic Church rather than to oppose the LGBTQ lobby in California. This group didn’t have to be honored. But clearly leaders in the Dodgers organization decided to make a statement by celebrating these men.
By deciding to reinvite the activist group, the Dodgers might win a peaceful moment from the LGBTQ lobby, but many others lose. The public loses, for reducing questions about human sexuality to the frivolity and shallow displays of men in drag. Christians lose, because the unseemly parody of faith impacts anyone who actually believes. Catholics lose, because once again our faith is openly mocked in the public square. But the biggest losers are women religious, whose noble example of self-sacrifice and service is grotesquely caricatured by this group and its members.
Countless women religious have dedicated their lives to public service in the United States. They built hospitals and schools and orphanages. They have taught and nursed the most vulnerable in our country for centuries. That legacy should be cherished, not thrown beneath the feet of jeering crowds at a Pride Night publicity stunt. It is offensive and divisive. And the Dodgers should be ashamed of themselves.
Father Patrick Briscoe, O.P., is a Dominican friar and the editor of Our Sunday Visitor.