Cecilia’s Funeral & Theology of the Beaten Dog


We wake up every day to signs of a civilization in free fall. Cratering with it is the moral authority of the Roman Church under the captaincy of Pope Francis. One signal in particular stands out: last month’s funeral circus at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for transgender activist, prostitute, and sex-worker advocate, Cecilia Gentili. The entire production exhaled the rancid breath of Bergoglian accompaniment

Much has already been said about the funeral (see here, here, here, and elsewhere). What has not been said is any recognition of the thing for what it was: an act of war.

And the archdiocese ceded the battle.

Memorial image on Facebook
Memorial image on Facebook.

The decivilizing aggression of transgenderism and the sentimentalized malice of its ideologues won the day. That was openly stated by Rio Sofia (she/her). Currently co-director of Queer| Art and a specialist in the intersection of art and trans liberation, she crowed: “It’s a day to celebrate the fact that we flooded St. Patrick’s Cathedral with trans people. That was nothing less than historic.”

Equally notable was Gentili’s earlier call to arms. Quoted in Vogue’s tribute to his “matriarchal” legacy, he marshaled his forces: “I’m asking all my transpeople, please, please, always terrorize cisgender people. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, you just have to show up!” So they did.

Vogue quotes Gentili screaming at a party:“There’s no one better than the trannies. Y’all, we are f****** everything!” During last June’s all-trans music festival along the Williamsburg waterfront, he rallied the troops: “I want all the faggotry. I want all the tranny behavior.”

When militant faggotry brought tranny behavior to St. Patrick’s, the New York Archdiocese withdrew behind a feeble effort at damage-control. It issued a shocked—shocked!—claim to have been blind sided. Who knew that Cecilia was an altered male! On the defensive, Cardinal Dolan broadcast a sarcastic reminder that “We don’t do FBI checks on people who want to be buried.”

St. Patrick’s scrambled to save face by cobbling together three street-side rallies and a private Mass of reparation. The archdiocese retreated behind an act of atonement in order to sidestep confrontation with the transgender cult on its doorstep. A pious dodge, it accommodated its own defeat. Social theorist Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn had a phrase for putting a devout face on a drubbing. He called it “the theology of the beaten dog.”

The transgender juggernaut achieved a coup. It bested clerics afraid to offend the enemy. A subsequent Mass in expiation for a calculated assault on the liturgy is a non-response. It leaves intact a derelict ideology. A timid post facto gesture, it refutes nothing. It only emboldens.

And the antagonists know it. Gays and Lesbians in a Transgender Society (GLITS) took a victory lapse by demanding an apology from St. Patrick’s for shortening the service into a Liturgy of the Word minus the agreed-upon Mass. GLITS is led by Cecilia’s fellow transwoman Ceyenne Doroshow, the Gentili “family” member who contacted the rectory and organized the funeral in concert with parish staff.

The cardinal could not manage even a credible alibi. He told the press that all the parish staff knew is that “somebody called and said, ‘Our dear friend died. We’d love to have the funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It would be a great source of consolation for us, her family and friends.’ And of course the priest at the cathedral said, ‘Come on in. You’re more than welcome.’”

Somebody called?

St. Pat’s is a tourist landmark. Its international status requires the employ of a director of marketing and communications. Also a director for audio-visual operations. Weddings and baptisms have their own scheduler. A full-court, live-streamed funeral at the main altar is not a courtesy available to any “somebody” whose relatives hanker after it. Try it yourself. Ask for a solemn requiem in the principal sanctuary for your Aunt Kitty, a beloved nobody in Sheepshead Bay. See if the rector takes your call.

Grieving family. Peter Scotto, Gentili’s “husband” holds Doroshow’s hand. (Photo: Ryan McGinley for Vogue)
Grieving family. Gentili’s “husband” Peter Scotto holds Doroshow’s hand. (Photo: Ryan McGinley for Vogue)

From the choice of music and readings to security factors, arrangements have to made. And paid for. Add a mandatory funeral director. Particulars are not left to chance. Yet we are asked to believe that before the rector chirped “Y’all come,” there was no vetting at all for this non-parishioner. Not even a quick pass at Google. [Organizers insist they advised church staff to “look up Gentili, her work, and the community she served.”] Could the event have been settled solely by text or phone? Is it likely that neither Doroshow nor anyone from the grieving “family” ever appeared in person to discuss details with the cathedral’s master of ceremonies?

One glance at Doroshow would have given the game away. The alleged lack of vetting is itself a hint that St. Pat’s had more than an inkling that it was obliging the trans “community” with a celebrity funeral.

Over the rainbow, troubles melt like lemon drops . . .

. . . and bluebirds fly. But this is New York, not Oz. The presiding priest, Father Edward Dougherty, is no naif. Until recently he had served as Procurator General of the Maryknolls in Rome where he enjoyed access to Vatican high command. He wrote: “In January I was assigned back home to serve as a staff priest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City—another crossroads of the world. Cardinal Timothy Dolan who presides at St. Pat’s asked me to bring a missionary dimension to the parish.”

Perhaps the Gentili funeral counted as missionary outreach to a formidable, exotic tribe. Maybe the gesture would grant the archdiocese good press? Could Pope Francis’ sugar-plum “culture of encounter” have paralyzed the chancery’s judgment?  Or might the archdiocese have entertained visions of a trans-friendly reprise of the 1987 commemorative service for Andy Warhol?

The lure of celebrity & everyone his own freak

Warhol’s funeral service and burial had taken place in Pennsylvania, his native state. Two months later, St. Patrick’s held a high-profile memorial Mass. Calvin Klein, Lisa Minelli, Beatles widow Yoko Ono, and Mrs. Jacob Javits were among notables in the pew. Rev. Anthony Dalla Villa, the presiding priest, praised Warhol as “a Christian gentleman and a Christian, gentle man.”

The flattery shared a drip line with the deliriums of wannabes and hangers-on who inhabited the artist’s studio. Yes, Warhol wore a crucifix. He also wore a corset and silver wigs  to craft his identity.

Warhol in silver wig
Warhol owned 100 hand-made silver-haired wigs.

At St. Patrick’s, art historian John Richardson eulogized Warhol as an effective proselytizer for the Church. Nevertheless, when it came to facilitating drug use, “he did not see himself as his brother’s keeper.”

The artist’s confused relation to his faith does not alter his calamitous influence on his circle of susceptible followers. Or on popular culture. Warhol’s studio, the Factory, was ground zero for celebration of alternative life styles built on sex, drugs, and self-invention. Everyone his own freak. The flagrant tranny behavior that Gentili cheered—its public disdain for norms and hostility toward normalcy—descends from the Warhol phenomenon.

A mourner
A mourner

Cecilia, eulogized: “This whore! This great whore, St. Cecilia, mother of all whores!”

The behavior of some 1,200 or more jived-up congregants—many in kiss-my-ass drag—was unsurprising. It was the behavior of quisling celebrant Fr. Dougherty that was the scandal of this event.

If you watched the live stream, you saw him clap at a wince-inducing eulogy. You heard him greet his audience with a smiling double entendre: “Welcome to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Except on Easter Sunday, we don’t really have a crowd that is this well turned out.” His play on words applauded the size of the congregation and, at the same time, the flamboyant costuming.

Another well-turned-out mourner. (Photo: Ryan McGinley for Vogue)
Another well-turned-out mourner. (Photo: Ryan McGinley for Vogue)


In his delivery, Dougherty paused for a second to signal a laugh line. His audience got the joke. It took no time for congregants to profane the service. An attending priest could be heard in the background instructing the celebrant to skip Mass and hold simply a Liturgy of the Word.

The order was warranted but inadequate. Keeping the liturgy going under the circumstance reeked of appeasement. (The Mass is off but let the show go on.) Where were men with chests willing to short circuit the spectacle?

Here was an opportunity to emulate St. Boniface. Fr. Dougherty might have used the pulpit to gently remind congregants that transgenderism is a snare and a fantasy: “Chromosomal endowment, dear souls, is ineradicable. And binary.” Such a homily would have been as consequential as an axe to Thor’s oak. But no one had the wit or grit to even pull the plug on obscene eulogies and prayers for gender-affirming healthcare.

Why were sanctuary steps allowed to be festooned with LBGT paraphernalia and posters? And where was security while an unhinged attendee flounced down the aisles warbling “Ave Cecilia” while a priest sang the “Ave Maria”? And why did he continue singing to mocking accompaniment?

•     •     •     •     •

Ultimately, the sexual identity of body in the coffin was not the critical thing. What mattered was that St. Patrick’s was anxious to nod to the Zeitgeist and prove itself inclusive—in Pope Francis’ grasp of the word.

The treason of the clerks wears many guises.

America’s Parish Church has damaged its own brand. From start to finish, the debacle validated Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s assertion that “stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. . . . Against stupidity we are defenseless.”