NYC Catholics Denied Entrance to Church Due To ‘Dirty Hands’

Charcoaled hands outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral

‘Dirty hands’ outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Catholics in New York City held a public witness this past weekend objecting to recent comments made by Cardinal Dolan, who wrote that welcoming LGBT people into the Church is equivalent to asking someone to wash their dirty hands before dinner.

Advocates attempted to enter St. Patrick’s Cathedral for 10:15am Mass on Sunday with hands covered in charcoal, symbolically alluding to the cardinal’s statements about dirty hands.  The demonstrators were denied access by church security, and the NYC’ Police Department’s LGBT liaison informed them that only after washing their hands would they be allowed to enter.

One participant, Joseph Amodeo, wrote about his experiences in The Huffington Postand the pain the literal exclusion of those witnessing from Mass:

“Today, myself and others knocked at the door of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but the door was not opened, rather it was slammed in our faces…until today, I have never been denied a seat at Christ’s table. In fact, today marks the first day that I have ever felt disowned, abandoned, and lost…

“In response to the Archdiocese’s threat of arrest, we opted to remain outside where we stood in silent vigil with our palms turned out facing toward the main doors of Cathedral…[that] doors closed as we stood outside seem now to capture well the chill that we felt from the Cathedral’s staff as well as the Cardinal. Our peaceful presence was responded to with a resounding ‘you are not welcome.’…

“As someone who was reared Roman Catholic from the moment of birth, I have always known the Church and its community of believers to be a place of welcome and affirmation…Today, this childhood experience of ‘church’ stands in stark contrast to the cold and heartless response of the Archdiocese of New York and Cardinal Dolan to our presence at the Cathedral earlier today.”

However, even with emotions raw and the rejection still present, Amodeo realizes that it is not those standing outside who are most challenged, but the clergy and staff inside:

“I realize now that it is not I who stands at this crossroad, but rather the Cardinal himself. He stands at point at which he can choose to see the inherent dignity present in all people or to follow a path laid with judgment and accusation.

“Today, I don’t stand at a crossroad, but rather I find myself standing at the threshold of a door. I and others are standing at the doorway to the Church knocking, seeking, and asking. By this action, I hope that the doors of the Cathedral will be opened to us not on a conditional basis, but rather with the understanding that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.”

A related action in Detroit occurred this same weekend, as parents of LGBT children witnessed outside archdiocesan offices after Archbishop Vigneron told supporters of LGBT equality to refrain from Communion. Clearly, more and more Catholics, LGBT and allies alike, are recognizing the problem is with those who would exclude, are also finding the energy to stand up and speak out. New Ways Ministry applauds both groups who witnessed this weekend.

For more photos of the event, click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

13 replies
  1. Tim
    Tim says:

    This is another reason why I joined the independent catholic movement. Why sit and complain when nothing will happen anytime soon in the Roman church. Thank God for helping me find myself and my church here in Wisconsin.

  2. Claressa
    Claressa says:

    If you leave the RCC church then the problems remain unchallanged and they win. We have to fight from within for the rights of everyone who are excluded.

  3. pachouse
    pachouse says:

    This is what happens when you take religion out of the church and make it a ‘business’ as it is today. Hopefully Pope Francis will recognize the injustices that are allowed and make the necessary changes.

  4. Will
    Will says:

    Words fail me at the transparent awfulness of this behaviour by Dolan. This is a man who recently said: “We try our darndest to make sure we’re not anti-anybody” referring to LGBT people and the Equal Marriage debate. Summoning the NYPD to bar the doors to them seems quite ‘anti’ to me.

  5. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    “You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. I have said these things to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me.” (John 15:27 – 16:3, from today’s Gospel) It seems pretty clear to me that Jesus anticipated Cardinal Dolan and his ilk. They put Jesus and the early Christians out of their churches too. Sad thing is that we, the Church, are kept out. Maybe at times like this, we are closer to Jesus when we are on the outside.

  6. Janelle Lazzo
    Janelle Lazzo says:

    Surely the guardian angels of those young LGBT Catholics who were denied admission to St. Patrick’s Cathedral were weeping as they stood outside with their charges. And how did that scene fit with the image given to us in the Book of Genesis of all human beings made in the Creator’s image and sustained by His love!


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