Catholics Protest NJ Pride Mass

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by Anita Carey  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 1, 2019   

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HOBOKEN, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful Catholics protested a "Pride Mass" in the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, while the archbishop of the diocese did nothing.

On Sunday, June 30, Catholics gathered outside of  Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the archdiocese of Newark, to protest the parish's second-annual Pride Mass

The Pride Mass was organized by the pastor of the parish, Fr. Alexander Santora, and publicized on a community portal for New Jersey LGBTs and in an article on NJ.com promoting Pride Month events and in an article written by Fr. Santora for The Jersey Journal.

Church Militant spoke with Chris Falciano, one of the protesters of the Pride Mass. He didn't have an exact figure for the number of Massgoers because during the whole Mass, people were coming and going.

He said their purpose for the protest was mainly to make reparations for what was going on inside. He said it "seemed so beastly with how they were dressing."

He said with the diocese "sliding toward completely allowing sodomy, they wanted to make a little bit of a stand for orthodoxy."With Fr. Santona's columns, he regularly writes about the Church's attitudes towards LGBT issues. In November 2018, Fr. Santora reported that he developed a series of proposals for the archdiocese to consider after he surveyed parishioners' thoughts on the sex abuse scandal.

He proposed "overhauling seminary formation, conducting truth-finding, holding wrongdoers accountable, allowing for a married clergy, greater acceptance for gay clergy, among others."

In October 2018, Fr. Santora almost advocated for women priests when he wrote the "Church must end male-only hierarchy" — echoing the progressive hijack of the World Meeting of Families in Ireland in August.

Father Santora also writes favorably about the customs of Hinduism and Islam and how they can deepen the Catholic faith.

Last year, Fr. Santora allowed Michael DeFusco, an openly gay Hoboken city councilman, to speak at the Pride Mass. Father Santora used the homily to thank Cdl. Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, for allowing the Mass and praised him for allowing an LGBT pilgrimage to the cathedral.

He challenged the Catholic Church's teachings as "antiquated" and said, "The church has to move into a new direction."

"Suppressing orientation isn't healthy or good," he concludes. "Somewhere our theology needs to catch up."

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Pride Mass protesters

At the height of the protest, there were about 25 people, mostly men, praying. Falciano explained, "Pride events in New York can get violent" and the organizers decided in advance not to have children or young ladies present. They also felt that it was the men's job to protect the Eucharist. 

"They knew we were coming," Falciano explained. Within 20 minutes of their arrival at the church, the first police car showed up, followed by more and more until there were six to eight police cars at the church and a group of them surrounded the group of people praying the Rosary. 

"It was most likely to intimidate us," he said, adding they found the police's actions "just silly."

Falciano said they got a lot of reactions from the people attending the Pride Mass. While many of the people ignored them or used a public display of affection to signify that they were in a same-sex relationship, there were others that very clearly spoke about them in a negative way. 

He explained it was generally the mothers speaking to their children that did that, and seeing the young children dressed in unicorn horns and covered in rainbows "looked like child abuse." 

It seemed so sacrilegious it was almost jarring.

The group was accosted about between five and 10 times, adding that if the groups going into the church were larger, then they probably would have been more brazen.

Many of these people just misquoted Scripture to them such as "God doesn't judge," but in one instance, a woman screamed the Hail Mary back at them. Falciano explained, "It seemed so sacrilegious it was almost jarring." 

Falciano said they figured Fr. Santora asked for police presence because at the end of Mass, Fr. Santora came out and looked at the police and said, "Thank you for coming, gentlemen." One of the officers replied, "You got it, Fr. Alex."

"All didn't feel welcome, that was for sure," Falciano said.

Falciano added that parishioners he spoke with weren't all happy with the direction Fr. Santora was taking the parish. One woman wrote to Cdl. Tobin to complain about the Pride Mass and he responded, "What can I do about it?"

It was clear that Cdl. Tobin knew about the Pride Mass. It was publicized on NJ.com on May 31 and on June 2, Cdl. Tobin just made a surprise visit to Our Lady of Grace and within a week, Fr. Santora tweeted an announcement for the Pride Mass.

During the two-hour vigil, they prayed all 15 decades of the Rosary, the Litany of the Sacred Heart and some other prayers. They came armed with exorcised salt and epiphany water, an especially powerful sacramental against evil.

Falciano said even though they felt the desire to storm the church to protect the Blessed Sacrament, they all wanted to act with prudence and not do anything that would cause scandal.

"We came, we prayed, we were a witness and we left," he added. 

While the group was packing up and leaving, one of the last of their items to be packed up was a statue of the Blessed Mother. Falciano said they could see vitriol in the reactions of the people driving by.

"Just a statue of Our Lady alone was enough to merit hostility," adding they were "seething with anger."

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