Catholic nonprofit urges Letitia James to investigate trans funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral as hate crime

Attorney General of New York Letitia James attends the 2023 New York City Pride March on June 25, 2023, in New York City.
Attorney General of New York Letitia James attends the 2023 New York City Pride March on June 25, 2023, in New York City. | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

A Catholic nonprofit advocacy group fired off a letter to New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday urging her office to investigate last week's funeral of a trans activist at St. Patrick's Cathedral that prompted outrage. President Brian Burch claimed in his letter that the deceptive means by which activists were able to conduct a funeral in St. Patrick's for Cecilia Gentili — a trans-identifying atheist and former prostitute — could qualify as criminal trespassing and a hate crime under New York's Hate Crimes Act.

"I am writing to request that you open an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the recent use of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City by transgender activists to deceptively gain access and advance ideas and beliefs hostile to doctrines of the Catholic Church, while openly mocking these beliefs," Burch wrote.

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Burch cited the footage that went viral on social media depicting the sacrilegious antics that characterized Gentili's funeral. Scantily clad attendees repeatedly erupted into raucous applause at moments throughout the service, such as when eulogists referred to the late trans activist as "Saint Cecilia, mother of whores." They also chanted the phrase as Gentili's casket was carried down the nave.

Trans couples also kissed on the high altar, a reader prayed for transgender healthcare, cross-dressing actor Billy Porter sang a song by Whitney Houston, and one attendee changed the lyrics of "Ave Maria" to "Ave Cecilia" while dancing down around the casket and down the aisle.

Noting a video that shows one of the funeral's organizers boasting about how Gentili's trans identity was hidden from the archdiocese, Burch argued that the funeral was a deceptive attempt to desecrate one of the most important Catholic cathedrals in the U.S.

"The deception employed to gain access to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in order to hold a ceremony that profaned that holy place and mocked the Catholic religion cries out for justice," wrote Burch, who suggested the organizers violated New York Penal Law Sec. 485.05 regarding hate crimes.

Burch also cited the 1974 case People v. Segal, which found the defendants liable for criminal trespassing after gaining access to the CBS newsroom by falsely claiming to be journalism students.

"The outrageous sacrilege perpetrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is indeed a hate crime," Burch said. "Video footage shows that transgender activists intentionally used deception to obtain permission to enter St. Patrick’s and the facts show that access was used to desecrate that sacred space and mock Catholic faith and morals."

Burch concluded by urging James "to vindicate the rights and dignity of Catholic New Yorkers, and indeed, the countless Catholics throughout this nation who regard St. Patrick’s as one of their most revered holy places."

The Christian Post has reached out to the New York attorney general's office, and a response is pending.

Gentili's funeral made headlines and drew backlash from many Catholics. As of Thursday, nearly 14,000 people have signed an online petition urging Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York to perform an exorcism of the cathedral.

On his podcast earlier this week, Dolan praised the priests involved for making the quick decision not to perform a funeral Mass for Gentili, instead opting to do the less formal Liturgy of the Word.

The Archdiocese of New York released a statement last Saturday from the Rev. Enrique Salvo, the pastor of St. Patrick's Cathedral, who claimed he was unaware of Gentili's identity when the funeral was being arranged, and that a Mass of Reparation had been performed at Dolan's direction.

Canon Law lists "manifest sinners" whose funerals would cause "public scandal of the faithful" as those who "must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals" unless "they gave some sign of repentance before death."

The funeral was organized by Ceyenne Doroshow, another trans-identifying man, who told The New York Times Gentili's trans identity was kept "under wraps" from the archdiocese.

On Wednesday, Doroshow delivered a lengthy press conference during which he admitted they had kept Gentili's identity a secret from church leadership, but that media had alerted them the day before. He also cited Pope Francis and Fiducia supplicans regarding same-sex blessings as justification.

Doroshow also demanded an apology from the archdiocese and claimed the trans community find themselves "in a religious war" within the Church between leaders who affirm LGBTQ behavior and those who do not.

"You're preaching hate, you are teaching people to hate," Doroshow said. "You have spewed hate. My inbox is full of hate. That comes from the archdiocese, that's not coming from my community, because my community does not act this way."

Earlier this week, a group of Roman Catholic clergy and scholars issued an open letter to cardinals and bishops worldwide warning them that Gentili's "scandalous, grotesquely blasphemous and sacrilegious" funeral should be "a wake-up call" to the Church in the wake of Fiducia supplicans, according to LifeSiteNews.

"This, Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, is what will be coming into your parishes if you do not act now and stop the document Fiducia Supplicans and its implementation," they wrote. "It will start with a priest coming together with a homosexual couple in a church for a blessing. People will gather to witness the event. There will be numerous occasions for political activists to abuse that moment to further blaspheme God and to mock the Catholic faith."

"This funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was a wake-up call," they added. "It was only the beginning."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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