Despite gay 'Pride' events being canceled from coast to coast due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinal Joseph Tobin permitted an LGBT 'Pride Mass' to be conducted in his archdiocese.
For the third year in a row, the "Annual Pride Mass in support of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters" was held on Sunday at the merged parishes of Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The Mass, which was livestreamed on YouTube, seems to show sparse attendance. Rainbow-colored banners lined the sanctuary.
The Archdiocese of Newark resumed Sunday Masses on June 21 after three months of suppression due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current "Phase Three" directives require churches to restrict their attendance to 25 percent of capacity or fifty people, whichever is lower, with all who enter the churches required to wear face coverings among other mandatory "social distancing" dictates.
Pastor Fr. Alexander Santora delivered an overtly political homily, condemning Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump for allowing "their personal prejudices or political needs to override their oath of office to protect the people they serve" - i.e., gay, lesbian, and transgender-identifying individuals.
Santora was quick to link the death of George Floyd and the protests and riots it has spawned to what he sees as ongoing discrimination within the Church against LGBT-identifying Catholics. The priest seeks nothing less than the normalization of homosexual and trangender identity and relationships.
"LGBT individuals are welcome and need to share their stories so stereotypes die and human beings emerge who desire what anyone in life wants: to love and be loved and accepted as they are," insisted Santora.
"This is a nascent movement, and there are many in the Church opposed to gay accommodation," he asserted. "More pastoral outreach and discussion are needed to break down walls. There is a need to minister together and to see each other as brothers and sisters without any labels in places around the world, though repression is still strong."
"There is no new life without casting aside the old," said Santora. "This is happening in the Church as we listen to our LGBT brothers and sisters and make our churches hospitable to all, especially those who have been on the margins not by their own choice."
"Just as with the reforms of political systems will be ongoing, so will the church's mission and ministry to the LGBT members, but with the difference," he said, again attempting to draw a connection to the African-American struggle for civil rights.
"In the 1960s under the leadership of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., blacks led the march for freedom and equality," said Santora. "We let go of any racist tendencies. So too with LGBT rights and concerns."
"We jettison the old prejudice and celebrate pride in our LGBT community because we then become better people and better Catholics," he concluded.
Concerning Gramick, a co-founder of the dissident "New Ways Ministry" in Maryland, Santora wrote, "She has been threatened and badgered by the Vatican for her pioneering ministry and hasn't given up."
"Gay discrimination lives in the Catholic church," said Santora, who seemed surprised that the Archdiocese of Detroit had recently "told a parish group formed to support families of LGBTQ Catholics and any Dignity groups that they could not hold events on church property." He seemed to question the bishop's characterization of Fortunate Families as offering "a competing vision" of Church teaching.
Pro-LGBT history of Cardinal Tobin's archdiocese
In May 2017, Cardinal Joseph Tobin personally received a group of individuals identifying as LGBT at Newark's Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart in conjunction with an inaugural "LGBT Pilgrimage" to the cathedral. Tobin had said he was delighted to welcome the LGBT group and personally approved their flyer for the event.
When asked at the time by the New York Times if he should have taken the opportunity at the event to call the "LGBT pilgrims" out of sin, he responded, "That sounds a little backhanded to me."
Tobin, a 2016 Pope Francis appointee to the cardinalate, is among a handful of Church leaders to endorse LGBT-affirming Father James Martin's controversial Building a Bridge book.
In 2018, following six priests having anonymously reported a homosexual subculture in the Newark archdiocese, the cardinal sent the priests of his archdiocese a letter encouraging them to remain silent if the media were to try to contact them. He also denied that anyone "has ever spoken to me about a ‘gay sub-culture' in the Archdiocese of Newark."
The Archdiocese of Newark is one of the New Jersey dioceses that paid settlements to former priest victims of disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of Tobin's predecessors. Questions remain about who in the U.S. Church hierarchy knew about McCarrick's predation of boys and men.
The Catholic Church holds that same-sex attraction is disordered and that homosexual acts are sinful. Church teaching states that "homosexual persons are called to chastity" (CCC 2359), which is also what its teaching says about all people, since sexual relations are reserved for marriage, which is between a man and woman (CCC 2360).
To respectfully express concern about the pride Mass:
Church of Our Lady of Grace 400 Willow Ave. Hoboken, NJ 07030 201-659-0369