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New York City Archdiocese condemns funeral of trans icon Cecilia Gentili at St. Patrick's Cathedral

funeral guests transgender community activist Cecilia Gentili St Patricks Cathedral February 2024 New York City
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

St. Patrick's Cathedral even held a Mass of Reparation. Gentili's family has called out church leaders for what they said was "hypocrisy" and transphobia.


The Archdiocese of New York has condemned the funeral service of Cecilia Gentili, a trans woman who was a noted activist and actress. Church officials were so outraged by the memorial service they organized a Mass of Reparation.

The funeral, held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday, saw hundreds of mourners gather at the historic cathedral to celebrate and remember the 52-year-old.

Related: Cecilia Gentili, trans activist, actress, and author, has died at 52

In a statement released Saturday on social media, Rev. Enrique Slavo said, "Thanks to so many who have let us know they share our outrage over the scandalous behavior at a funeral here at St. Patrick's Cathedral earlier this week. The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way. That such a scandal occurred at 'America's Parish Church' makes it worse; that it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual forty-day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us. At the Cardinal's directive, we have offered an appropriate Mass of Reparation."

The New York Times described the pews at the church as packed. Many of those paying their respects were transgender, it reported, “who wore daring high-fashion outfits and cheered as eulogists led them in praying for transgender rights and access to gender-affirming health care.”

priest eulogy transgender community activist Cecilia Gentili St Patricks Cathedral February 2024 New York CityStephanie Keith/Getty Images

Ceyenne Doroshow, the service’s organizer, told the paper that Gentili’s family had been cautious with details to the archdiocese because they were afraid the service would be rejected if church leaders knew Gentili was trans.

Gentili’s family have called out what they said was the “hypocrisy” of the church.

"We brought precious life and radical joy to the Cathedral in historic defiance of the Church's hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred. Cecilia Gentili's funeral service, which filled the pews in ways the Cathedral only can during Easter service and NYPD funerals, was a reflection of the love she had for her community and a testament to the impact of her tireless advocacy,” her family said, CNN reports. “We bestow sainthood upon Cecilia, for her life's work, for how she ministered, mothered, and loved all people regardless of HIV, immigration, or employment status. Her heart and hands reached those the sanctimonious Church continues to belittle, oppress, and chastise, and she changed the material conditions for countless people, including unhoused people and those who needed healthcare. The only deception present at St. Patrick's Cathedral is that it claims to be a welcoming place for all.”

The Times notes that there are several LGBTQ-friendly Catholic churches in New York City. It also notes that St. Patrick’s Cathedral isn’t one of them.

In life, Gentili had a complicated relationship with religion, like many LGBTQ+ people.

“I used to go with my grandmother to the Baptist Church, and they didn’t want me there,” she told Interviewmagazine in 2023. “I used to go to the Catholic Church, too, and both were such traumatic experiences for me as a queer person. So I came to identify as an atheist, but I know that so many trans people have been able to find a relationship with faith in spaces that include them.”

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