National News

L.A. Dodgers Re-Invite LGBTQ+ Group That Mocks Catholic Faith

The sun sets over Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on May 16. The Dodgers recently re-invited the California-based Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group criticized by many as anti-Catholic, to their Pride Night at Dodger Stadium on June 16 after initially canceling their appearance. The team plans to honor the group, along with other organizations, for its community service work. (OSV News Photo)

WASHINGTON — A group that describes itself as a “leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns” was invited, then uninvited, and then re-invited by the Los Angeles Dodgers to be honored along with other organizations for their community service work during Pride Night on June 16 at Dodger Stadium.

The initial invite of the California-based drag group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, caused backlash from Catholic groups and politicians, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, that led the Dodgers to cancel the group’s invitation on May 17.

The team said in a statement at the time that their inclusion of the group “has been the source of some controversy.” 

“Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees,” the team said.

But after local politicians, civil rights, and LGBTQ groups raised an uproar over that decision, the Dodgers apologized and reinvited the group less than a week later for the Pride Night event, scheduled to be held during the June 16 home game against the San Francisco Giants.

In a May 22 statement, the team said, “After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities, honest conversations within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, and generous discussions with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their friends and families.”

The team said the group had agreed to take part in the Pride Night event and receive an honor for their local charity work in the LGBTQ+ community.

Sister Unity, a founding member of the group that started in San Francisco in 1979, told the Los Angeles Times that they were happy to receive the apology and believed it was sincere.

As of the morning of May 23, the group had not posted its reaction to the Dodgers’ change of plans. A statement about their cancellation was still posted, which said the team had “capitulated in response to hateful and misleading information from people outside their community.”

When the Dodgers originally announced that the group would be honored, the Catholic League and CatholicVote protested, calling it bigotry to honor an anti-Catholic group.

The group’s leaders wrote their complaints to Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball, and urged followers to similarly write or call him and provided contact information. 

The letter from Bill Donohue, the Catholic League’s president, said the Dodgers’ plan to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was “an unprovoked assault on Catholics. 

“Don’t believe the lie that the ‘Sisters’ mean no harm,” he said, accusing the Dodgers of “rewarding hate speech.” 

In response to the team’s re-invitation of the group, CatholicVote President Brian Burch vowed to launch a “barrage” of advertising against the team across Los Angeles and during the game broadcasts.

“This is a slap in the face of every Catholic,” said Burch. “We’re raising $1 million as fast as we can, and we will pummel this decision in advertising that the Dodgers can’t ignore.”

“Every advertiser, every season ticket holder, every charity, every fan must speak out against the Dodgers’ decision to promote anti-Catholic hate,” Burch added.

In a May 19 statement after the group had been uninvited, Donohue thanked Manfred and the Dodgers for “doing the right thing.

“Justice was done in the end. There is no room for anti-Catholic bigotry in any gay or trans celebratory event,” he added.

Rubio’s press release after the Dodgers said they were honoring the group said: “Baseball has always been tied to our nation’s values, at the heart of which is faith in God. It would be an outrage and a tragedy if the MLB, in pursuit of modern, secular, and indeed anti-religious ‘values,’ rebuked that faith and the millions of believing fans who cherish the sport.”

The Angelus, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, pointed out that some of the biggest names in Dodgers history during their time in Los Angeles have been Catholic, including the late player and manager Gil Hodges, Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, late manager Tommy Lasorda, and the legendary broadcast announcer Vin Scully, who died last year.

It added that the O’Malley family, which oversaw the team’s move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1955, also were known for being active in Catholic causes and events during their ownership of the team from 1950 until 1998, when they sold the team.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made Catholic news in 2007 when then-San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer gave Communion to two members of the group at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco without realizing who they were.

In a column for the Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Niederauer said he later realized they were “members of this particular organization and that giving them holy Communion had been a mistake.

“I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so,” he wrote. 

The archbishop said the dress and behavior of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are “deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries.”

He also said that the previous year he had instructed the administrator of Most Holy Redeemer Parish to stop allowing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to use the hall on the parish grounds.