WASHINGTON — Hours before the Los Angeles Dodgers honored a drag group dressed as nuns for their community service work at the team’s Pride Night game June 16, groups of protestors took part in what they described as a “prayerful procession” in one of the team’s parking lots.
The group later walked to the intersection outside the stadium’s main gate causing police and security officials to temporarily close the stadium’s main entrance.
News reports had varied accounts of the number of protestors from hundreds to thousands. The Los Angeles Times said there were about 2,000 people taking part and counter-protesters were also present.
The protesters opposed the Dodgers’ decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — self-described as “a leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns” — with an award for community service an hour before the June 16 game against the San Francisco Giants when most spectators were not yet in their seats.
Some Catholic groups protesting the team’s decision to honor the group called for a boycott of the game and happily reported a slight decrease in attendance that night. The group CatholicVote also pointed out the Dodgers’ 15-0 loss June 16 saying: “Dodgers Suffer Historic Defeat After Honoring Anti-Catholic Group.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said the four Friday night Dodgers’ home games since mid-April had an average attendance of 50,592. At last year’s Pride Night game at Dodger Stadium, there were 52,505 fans and at the June 16 game this year, 49,074 were in attendance.
After the game was over, Donohue said he was “happy to say that our effort paid off. There was almost no one in the stands when the ‘Sisters’ received their award. And the few who were there booed. This is a sweet victory.”
Not all accounts of the night reported booing though. A USA Today report said the stadium was “relatively empty” when the group was honored but said “those in the seats gave the Sisters loud cheers and applause when they were announced.”
Days prior to the game, Donohue wrote to all the Major League Baseball owners and Rob Manfred, MLB’s commissioner, urging teams not to get involved in controversies with groups they choose to honor.
“The central takeaway could not be more clear: just play baseball, stay out of politics, and never again honor an anti-Catholic group (or any bigoted entity),” he wrote.
A noon Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus took place several hours before the June 16 game and was described as a Mass for healing and reparation.
In his homily, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez called for “respect for the belief of others” and said: “When God is insulted, when the beliefs of any of our neighbors are ridiculed, it diminishes all of us.”
A report by the Angelus, the news outlet of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, said nearly 2,000 people attended the Mass and those in the congregation were encouraged 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.”
One response to the backlash of honoring the drag group is that the Dodgers moved up their announcement in late May that they would be relaunching Christian Faith and Family Day, taking place July 30 when the Dodgers play the Cincinnati Reds.
In a team tweet about the event, a tradition before it stopped during COVID, it said: “Join us at Dodger Stadium on 7/30 for Christian Faith and Family Day. Stay after the game to celebrate and be part of a day of worship. Stay tuned for more details.”
“I think we were always going to do Christian Faith Day this year, but I think the timing of our announcement was sped up,” said Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who didn’t agree with his team’s decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.