Gay Activists With Charcoaled Hands Denied Mass at NY's St. Patrick's Cathedral

[UPDATE: Monday, May 6, 2013 4:50 p.m.

Joseph Zwilling, director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, released this statement to The Christian Post in response to the gay rights supporters' protest:

"Yesterday, prior to the 10:15 a.m. Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, a small group of individuals approached the Cathedral with blackened hands, as a form of protest in response to Cardinal Dolan's blog post, 'All Are Welcome.' Although organizers have attempted to call yesterday's events by another name, it is clear that they were trying to make a statement, had hoped to get media attention to spread their message, and were using the setting of the Mass in Saint Patrick's Cathedral as their forum.

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"The group was politely told that everyone was welcome at Mass, but that they could not attend if they intended to protest with their blackened hands. The celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – the central act of worship for Catholics – should not and must not become the setting for protests or demonstrations.

"Cardinal Dolan was on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, with dozens of seriously ill individuals, and was unaware of what was transpiring at the Cathedral. Any suggestion that he 'denied' anything to anyone yesterday is, sadly, another distortion.

"It would be our hope that, next Sunday, the individuals who protested outside Saint Patrick's would instead find their way into church, either the Cathedral or their home parish, not to protest, but to participate in the greatest prayer the Church has to offer, the Mass."]

A group of gay rights supporters were denied entrance to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Sunday because they had dirtied their hands with charcoal in support of LGBT rights.

Activist Joseph Amodeo organized the protest on Sunday, where he and a number of supporters dirtied their hands with charcoal and attempted to enter the cathedral. Security officers told them, however, that they would be arrested unless they washed their hands.

"In the wake of today's events, I only desire to once again feel welcomed in the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese's response to our silent presence, leaves many of us with a feeling of spiritual homelessness," Amodeo told GLAAD following the demonstration.

The gay rights supporters organized the event in response to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and the most senior Catholic cleric in America, who said that the Church should not attack LGBT people and that they would be welcomed if they walked away from sin.

"The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman or man with a same-sex attraction … while reminding him or her of our clear teaching that, while the condition of homosexuality is no sin at all, still, God's teaching is clear that sexual acts are reserved for a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, loving bond of marriage," the archbishop wrote in April on his official blog.

Amodeo, who used to work for the Junior Board of Catholic Churches before he resigned, claimed in a Huffington Post commentary that the church door was not opened to them and that they were "denied a seat at Christ's table," which he said never happened to him. "In fact, today marks the first day that I have ever felt disowned, abandoned, and lost," Amodeo stated.

He argued that the Church is his home, and he should not be barred from entering because he chooses to stand up for LGBT rights with his dirty-hands protest.

"How can I be charged with criminal trespassing in my own home?" Amodeo asked.

"For Cardinal Dolan to imply that LGBT people are tainted with 'dirty hands' is for him to utterly fail to understand God's creation. There is no dress code to experience the love of God," said Ross Murray, GLAAD director of News and Faith Initiatives.

Cardinal Dolan has maintained that sexual relationships should only be between a married man and woman, but the Church should do better in making sure that the defense of marriage is not "reduced to an attack on gay people."

The archbishop added that the Church still needs to figure out how to best minister to gay people.

"I don't know. We're still trying. We're trying our best to do it. We've got to listen to people," Dolan said. "Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me."

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