Friday night was the Dodgers’ 10th annual Pride Night. Before the game against the San Francisco Giants, a group from Phoenix called Catholics for Catholics set up what they called “a prayerful procession” in a parking lot outside Dodger Stadium. A couple of hundred people got together before the game. Many of them wore red to honor the holy heart and carried signs.
The group had asked people not to bring children because “we do expect anti-Christian protesters to be hostile.”
The Los Angeles Police Department sent a lot of cops to the event. They stood around and watched as traffic near the stadium backed up. There were three planes in the sky.
One woman held up a blue sign that said, “Vin Is Sad.” It was in honor of the late Vin Scully, who was a faithful Catholic and an announcer for the Dodgers. On the other hand, she held a white sign that said, “Uphold Dodger Code of Conduct. Don’t make fun of religion.”
This year’s Pride Night has been involved in a high-profile dispute that has made religious people, including religious leaders, Catholic nuns, and even the team’s All-Star ace, very upset. This is why the meeting happened.
Some strict Catholics complained a lot, so the team took back an offer to Pride Night for a satirical LGBTQ+ group called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters’ actors, who are mostly guys who dress in flamboyant ways to look like nuns, take part in protests and good causes.
A week later, the Dodgers changed their minds after getting a lot of pushback from LGBTQ+ groups and their friends. They re-invited the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters to be honored for its charity work and apologized to the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ friends, including some Catholic women, were happy about the Dodgers’ change of heart. But it upset a lot of conservative Catholics, even the most powerful people in the U.S. leadership.
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Services, all criticized the team in a statement on Monday.
They asked Catholics to pray on Friday “as an act of reparation for the blasphemies against our Lord that we see in our culture today.”
“It is shocking that a professional baseball team has chosen to honor a group that makes fun of our Lord, His Mother, and consecrated women in a lewd and rude way,” the archbishops said. “Not only does this hurt and offend Christians everywhere, but it is also blasphemy.”
It wasn’t just Catholics who were criticized. On his national radio show, the Rev. Albert Mohler, who is head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that the Dodgers had “completely capitulated.”
Mohler said, “The company is falling all over itself with what an author once called “The Art of the Public Grovel.”
Clayton Kershaw, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Trevor Williams, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, both slammed the Dodgers for re-inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They said they didn’t like how the group made fun of Catholicism. Williams told other Catholics on Twitter that they should think twice about supporting a group that lets this kind of ridicule of its fans happen.
But each pitcher said he didn’t have a problem with Pride Nights as a whole.
“This has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community, Pride, or anything like that,” said Kershaw. “This is just a group poking fun at a church. I don’t agree with that.”
In recent years, Pride Nights have helped to sow the seeds of discord throughout the landscape of the sports world. During the 2017 baseball season, five pitchers for the Tampa Bay Rays refused to wear Pride shirts, citing their Christian faith as the reason for their refusal.
Anthony Bass, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, issued an apology at the end of the previous month for comments he made on social media in which he expressed support for anti-LGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light.
Seven players in the National Hockey League decided against donning rainbow-colored jerseys on their clubs’ Pride nights during the most recent regular season. After having done so in past seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, and Minnesota Wild did not wear rainbow warmup jerseys in this year’s preseason.