CV NEWS FEED // A growing number of Catholic prelates are rebuking the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to reinvite an anti-Catholic hate group to their upcoming June 16 “Pride Night.”
As CatholicVote has reported, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) is “a troupe of men who dress in lewd costumes mimicking the habits of nuns and perform acts of sacrilege against Catholic symbols and sacraments.”
So far, the most prominent prelate to publicly come out against the Dodgers’ honoring of the SPI is Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.
Dolan expressed his frustration with the baseball team’s decision on an episode of his SiriusXM radio show “Conversation with Cardinal Dolan” that aired on June 2.
Dolan contrasted the team’s current actions with those of Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, who notably refused to pitch during Game 1 of the 1965 World Series out of respect for his Jewish faith. “There is a guy that loved religion so much he wouldn’t pitch on Yom Kippur. And now the Dodgers are having this obnoxious honor in [sic] this viciously anti-Catholic group.”
The cardinal continued by saying that “we here in New York are well aware” of the SPI.
These are the ones that spit on Cardinal John O’Connor. These are the ones that threatened to desecrate the Holy Eucharist. These are the ones who exposed themselves in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We are well aware of their antics.
This isn’t some benevolent, humorous group.
Here is an inexhaustive list of other bishops and dioceses that’ve spoken out so far.
NOTE: This is an updated and expanded version of an article originally published on May 26. The entry on Cardinal Dolan was added on June 8. The entry on Bishop Schlert was added June 22.
On June 14, two day before the Dodgers honored the SPI, Bishop Schlert issued a statement calling for “prayer and reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Schlert said:
A professional baseball team, the LA Dodgers, has shockingly chosen to honor a group whose lewdness and vulgarity in mocking our Lord, His Blessed Mother, and consecrated women religious cannot be overstated. Diabolically, this misbegotten ceremony is due to take place on June 16, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.
As you pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart, please offer it for the Dodgers and all those who mock or deny God through their words and actions.
Eight-and-a-half minutes into an episode of his “Walk Humbly” podcast, which aired Monday, June 5, Bishop Burbidge said the situation is “deeply, deeply concerning.” In agreeing with his cohost, he called the SPI “agitators,” and added the “key here is that they mock the Catholic faith.”
The bishop said that it seems like the only groups “that can be subject to this public mockery, and agitation and discrimination are Christians. It’s not tolerated with any other group.”
He is a baseball fan and he hates “seeing this kind of division coming into sports,” which he feels should be strictly apolitical, and a time for families to relax.
On Friday, June 2, the Archbishop of Oklahoma City joined the small but growing group of prelates publicly opposing the Dodgers’ decision.
Taking to Twitter, Coakley called the SPI “a blatantly anti-Catholic group whose sole purpose is to mock the Church,” and made the point that they would not be able to get away so easily with attacking other faiths. Coakley continued by saying,
This group specifically mocks the witness of religious sisters around the world who dedicate their lives to serving the poor and those in need.
There are more than 4 million Catholics in Los Angeles, and the decision by the Dodgers to invite a group that seeks to openly disparage them, and the millions of Catholics around the world, is abhorrent and should be rescinded.
The Archbishop of Kansas City released a statement May 30, entitled “Regarding Los Angeles Dodgers Honoring Catholic Hate Group.”
With many other Catholics and non-Catholics who oppose religious bigotry, I am appalled and disgusted by the Dodgers honoring a group that calls themselves the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. This group openly mocks Catholic beliefs, and their actions are nothing less than blasphemous.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence should not be honored for providing some measure of care for those whose ideology helped to escalate the AIDS epidemic.
Tommy Lasorda would be appalled by the Dodgers actions. When Tommy was managing the Dodgers and they came to St. Louis, he would always give some of his complimentary tickets to Catholic Religious Sisters. The real heroines for the care of HIV-positive patients are groups like Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity, who operated AIDS hospice care facilities.
Naumann called on the owners of the Kansas City Royals to join him in publicly condemning the Dodgers’ actions.
He also encouraged “the management of Major League Baseball to not allow baseball to be used to advance ideologies that are offensive to many of their customers.”
Similar to Bishop Robert Barron and Burbridge, Naumann also identified himself as a “huge baseball fan”, noting his unique personal history with the sport: “My Father was a catcher and caught for Stan Musial when he was a Minor League Pitcher, before the Cardinals figured out that Stan was a better hitter than a pitcher.”
On Thursday, June 1, Bishop James D. Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln in Nebraska, tweeted an article by the Catholic News Agency adding the words, “This decision by the Los Angeles Dodgers to honor a group that mocks Catholicism and all of Christianity is unwise and disappointing.”
Bishop Conley continued, “This group is slanderous toward our religious sisters and all women. The Dodgers and MLB need to correct this decision.”
The article to which the bishop linked referenced the Dodgers announcing their upcoming “Christian Faith and Family Day,” which will take place at the end of July. It also discussed the multiple Dodgers players who have condemned the re-invitation of the SPI last week.
“Our Catholic sisters devote themselves to serving others selflessly,” wrote Cordileone. “Decent people would not mock & blaspheme them. So we now know what gods the Dodger admin worships… Disappointing but not surprising.”
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction where the Dodgers are located, released a statement back on May 23. “The decision to honor a group that clearly mocks the Catholic faith and makes light of the sincere and holy vocations of our women religious who are an integral part of our Church is what has caused disappointment, concern, anger, and dismay from our Catholic community”. The archdiocese stated:
The ministries and vocations of our religious women should be honored and celebrated through genuine acts of appreciation, reverence, and respect for their sacred vows, and for all the good works of our nuns and sisters in service of the mission of the Catholic Church.
The archdiocese encouraged “Catholics and people of goodwill to stand against bigotry and hate in any form and to stand for respect for one another and for the religious beliefs of our communities of faith.”
The neighboring Archdiocese of Orange released a similar rebuke, stating, “We cannot condone any actions that have historically shown such high levels of disregard for the sincerely held beliefs of the faithful.”
As CatholicVote reported May 22,
That statement came in response to the decision of the mayor of Anaheim, CA to invite SPI to be her personal guests at an upcoming LA Angels game. Mayor Ashleigh Aitken, a professed Catholic, made the move in an apparent rebuke of those who spoke out against the anti-Catholic group.
Bishop Robert Barron, the founder of the Catholic media company Word on Fire, called for Catholics to boycott the Dodgers via a video posted to Twitter May 25.
Barron served as the auxiliary archbishop of Los Angeles for nearly seven years before being appointed to his current Minnesota diocese in 2022. CatholicVote reported that Barron considers himself to be a “‘big baseball fan’ and even threw a ceremonial first pitch for the Dodgers during a ‘Catholic Night’ promotion in 2016.”
Again from CatholicVote:
Barron posed the question: if, instead of Catholicism, the SPI had attacked Jewish or Muslim scripture and rituals, “What would the reaction be?”
“You know, those questions answer themselves,” he concluded, implying that there is a double standard. “But somehow, attacking Catholics in this most disgraceful way is okay. Not only okay, it should be honored.”
“There’s a long tradition in this country of anti-Catholicism,” Barron said. “It was said famously about a century ago the last acceptable prejudice in America is anti-Catholicism. But we shouldn’t tolerate it.”
Bishop Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler in eastern Texas has been very vocal about the situation.
On May 23, he shared Archbishop Cordileone’s statement, thanking him for his reproach of the Dodgers.
The next day, Strickland shared CatholicVote’s graphic showing the public contact information of one of the Dodgers Executives behind the re-invitation. “Please speak against this evil being promoted at Dodger Stadium,” the bishop urged his over 100,000 followers.
Strickland also shared Barron’s statement, adding: “Amen…”
Bishop Hying of the Diocese of Madison in Wisconsin bluntly criticized the Dodgers’ re-invitation of the SPI.
On May 26, Hying tweeted the baseball team’s statement apologizing to the “drag” troupe and encouraged the faithful to “call this out for what it is: anti-Catholic bigotry and blasphemy against God.”