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Why the Dodgers Chose Anti-Catholicism

Raymond de Souza at First Things

Photo by Hongbin / Unsplash

Where have you gone, Vin Scully? Dodger nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Is it possible that the Los Angeles Dodgers waited until Scully, the epitome of gentlemanly piety, died last summer before deciding to honor the grotesquely blasphemous, sacrilegious, and anti-Catholic “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” with their annual Community Hero Award? This group of activists, which emerged from San Francisco’s gay population in 1979, wears religious drag to impersonate and mock Catholic nuns, as well as Catholic teaching, the Eucharist, and devotional symbols. The name “perpetual indulgence” itself blasphemes the popular devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Scully, the radio voice of the Dodgers for 67 seasons, was a devout Catholic who once recorded a CD praying the Rosary. Time for Dodger baseball? Time now for Dodger blasphemy.

What should be the Catholic response? That’s not clear, aside from denouncing the Dodgers’ decision. The incident seems to establish that a new cultural moment has arrived, and a group with minimal cultural power—Catholics—has to reconsider its position.

The Dodgers' decision to honor the “Sisters” led to a protest from the Catholic League and others. The Catholic League had been following the “Sisters” for decades, and compiled a list of sacrileges stretching back more than forty years.

The Dodgers reversed themselves immediately. But then the “Sisters” and their allies protested, and the Dodgers reversed themselves again. The award ceremony is back on, scheduled for June 16, Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It should be noted that “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” were selected not only because of various fundraising works, but also because they promote “spiritual enlightenment.” That is to say that the Dodgers, as between the enlightenment offered by the “Sisters” and the light of the gospel, did not choose the better part.

The allies of the blasphemers include Sister Jeannine Gramick, who wrote to the Dodgers to express her approval of the award. Her enthusiasm was not unalloyed though; the “Sisters” wear habits, and Sr. Jeannine does not like habits.

A great deal has by now been written about all this, as it is a clarifying moment. The Dodgers made a clear choice—twice over actually—to give an award to an anti-Catholic group that engages in serial sacrilege. That one of baseball’s more storied teams would arrive at this point is not a small thing.

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