Priest Who Criticized LA Dodgers and Drag Nuns Is Facing Cancellation Attempt by Former Parishioner, Who Is an Antifa-Aligned Trans Activist – RedState

Priest Who Criticized LA Dodgers and Drag Nuns Is Facing Cancellation Attempt by Former Parishioner, Who Is an Antifa-Aligned Trans Activist – RedState

One week ago we published video from a Catholic Mass at St. Raphael in Bay Village, Ohio, in which one of the priests called out the Los Angeles Dodgers’ plan to honor anti-Catholic drag nun group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) during their annual Pride Night, characterizing what the group does as an attack on the faith, in his homily, after which a person went to the podium and lashed out at the priest before being peacefully escorted away.

There was nothing violent in the priest’s words or about the way the disruption was handled, but over the last week that priest, Rev. Timothy Gareau, has been the focus of a cancellation attempt seemingly orchestrated by Avery Arden, the former parishioner who interrupted Mass and “challenged the issue,” and who is a vocal and self-described anarchist and law enforcement abolitionist, a member of a domestic violent extremist group (Stop Cop City) in Atlanta, and a “community organizer.”

Within a day of the RedState story the Cleveland Plain Dealer also reported on the incident, but from a completely different standpoint.

A Bay Village priest is facing backlash after saying the church is “under attack” and referencing a pro-LGBTQ nonprofit in a sermon Sunday. The Mass was interrupted when someone stood up and challenged the issue. Later, police were called to an incident outside of the house of worship.

People attending the service in Bay Village on Sunday cried and said they would not be returning to the church following the interaction, according to a parishioner who has been active with the church for nearly 35 years but wished to remain anonymous.

Another former parishioner, identified as “Daniel Sweeney, a former parishioner and member of the community group called Bay Village Anti-Racism Network,” was the only person named in the article, saying he wrote a letter to the church after somehow learning of the incident.

“Father Tim is a very reasonable man. He has always been a strong faith advocate,” he said. “He let loose and brought cultural war into the pulpit.”

Sweeney, who has lived in Bay Village for 40 years, said Gareau should apologize.

The only problem is that the full video of the end of the homily and Arden’s remarks, and an additional statement to RedState from a parishioner who was in attendance, don’t back up the Plain Dealer’s version of events. At approximately 3:17 into this video Father Tim’s homily ends and loud applause can be heard from the congregation. Similarly, after three congregants escort Arden from the pulpit, applause can be heard from the congregation.

A parishioner who was in attendance contacted RedState upon reading the story from the Plain Dealer and wanted to share what they observed. We are withholding their name to protect them from retaliation. They said:

I feel that Father Tim’s homily was filled with passion and sadness. Last Sunday was the celebration of the Pentecost, when Jesus visits the disciples who are afraid in their locked room that they had not left since he was crucified. He enters and the first thing Jesus says to them is, “Peace be with you.” The Holy Spirit comes in the form of tongues over the disciples and pours his love into them, transforming them with peace and the ability to speak other languages so they can go out into the world and spread God’s word. I believe Fr. Tim chose the Pentecost not to cause division but to bring peace. He voiced how Christ wants peace for us. Peace through love.

Father Tim never named a community of people. He referred to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that was all. The person who went up to the pulpit was the one who named the Sisters of [Perpetual] Indulgence. Father Tim did not mention for anyone to go against the LGBTQ community. He said we are being attacked and we have to fight back, meaning our Christian beliefs are being attacked. He was talking about fighting back as Christians, peacefully, through prayer and The Word.

When Father Tim finished his homily, everyone clapped. This is not a common occurrence in the church. I was a little shocked as we have never seen this happen. That is when the person walked up to the pulpit and started talking. It was a little disturbing that someone would just go up and help themselves to the microphone. As [a family member] said, “It’s not like its open mic night at Chili’s.” Only then was the LGBTQ community spoken of. She was then escorted off the altar. There were some that clapped as she left the podium. Not everyone; I would say 25% maybe. I did not see any policeman. I did not see anyone crying. I did see a police vehicle leave the church parking lot as everyone was leaving church. There was no other incident I can think of that happened.

It is a shame that some will leave the church over this incident. They are missing the big picture of what Fr. Tim was talking about when he said we need to fight for our faith. Leaving the church is not the answer. Faithfully praying for peace, love and forgiveness are our weapons.

Church leaders stood behind Gareau, issuing the following statement:

“In his homily on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, Fr. Tim Gareau, pastor of St. Raphael’s Parish in Bay Village, talked about a subject that was of deep concern to him and to the Catholic Church more generally. That subject was the growing acceptance of anti-Catholic bigotry in our society, with the most recent example being the Los Angeles Dodgers’ plan to honor an overtly anti-Catholic group known as the ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ at an event in mid-June.

“The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland applauds Fr. Gareau for his courage and fully supports him in calling on Catholics to speak out when others disparage our faith and to fight hatred, not with violence, but by embodying Christ’s love and boldly proclaiming the Gospel.

“Those who disagree with the Church’s teachings are free to do so, but are not free to disrupt the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to express their opinion. Likewise, those who would seek to defend the Church should do so lovingly and without in any way threatening or committing violence.”

In a follow-up story published Thursday, Arden admitted that the congregation clapped after Father Tim’s homily, but chose to change her focus.

The sermon angered many and thrusted Arden, who had attended St. Raphael as a child and prayed in the community, into an unlikely position. Arden is transgender and uses they/them pronouns.

“The idea that the church is under attack in this way that needs defending is laughable. The Catholic Church is far more powerful than (the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) are. If I can’t convince people that what (the Sisters) do is not offensive, that’s fine. You can at least agree they don’t actually pose a real threat to the Catholic Church.”

This is called moving the goalposts. No one has claimed that SPI pose a real threat to the Catholic Church. People have claimed – justifiably, in my opinion – that what the Sisters do is offensive and sacrilegious.

Then, she resurrected the old “dog whistle” terminology:

Arden was upset with the priest’s subtlety when referencing the LGBTQ group.

“I don’t want to give these people a name,” Gareau said during his homily. “I don’t want to give them that much credit.”

Arden said that “it felt like a dog whistle.”

And ended with some very coded language implying he needed to “process” what he did and “reflect” on his words and how they “promote violence.” We all know what that means.

“St. Raphael is more than this hate,” they said. “I truly love Father Tim. And I do believe that he didn’t mean to promote violence. And I have hope that once he’s able to process what happened after his homily, that he will see how he did have a role and reflect on that.”

That’s quite an interesting take for a person who believes that it’s okay to hurl molotov cocktails and bricks at police officers, and to destroy equipment in order to make their political point, as Stop Cop City members did during their Week of Action. Here is video from the attack carried out by Avery’s comrades on March 5, 2023:

As reported at the time:

Authorities charged 23 people with domestic terrorism after more than a hundred protesters dressed in black breached a proposed police and fire training center site in Atlanta Sunday, burning vehicles and setting off fireworks toward officers stationed nearby, according to police.

The Atlanta Police Department said 35 people were detained and accused the crowd of throwing bricks, large rocks and Molotov cocktails at police officers.

No officers were injured, but several pieces of construction equipment were set on fire, Atlanta police Chief Darin Schierbaum said during a press conference around midnight.

The next day Avery posted to Tumblr and TikTok claiming that “Jesus stands with the Atlanta forest defenders, with all who protest injustice, & with all the criminalized,” and shared a link for people to donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which was supposedly bailing people involved in the attack out of jail. Three of that group’s leaders were arrested May 31 on money laundering charges, and NPR reports that Georgia officials are attempting to build a RICO case against people involved with the group.

A few days after the attack, Avery posted a video likening these terrorists to Christ. Seriously. In the intro, Avery writes:

Some activists in the movement to defend Atlanta’s forests are being charged as domestic terrorists.
2,000 back, Rome’s charges against Jesus were similarly misleading…

Then on March 25 Avery posts about “Tortuguita,” the “forest defender” who shot at Atlanta police while refusing to leave the forest in which he was trespassing, saying that “Both Jesus and Tort were killed by unjust states, criminalized for daring to share a message of liberation for all Creation. Viva Tortuguita.” Again, the link to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund is shared.

@binarybreakers At a rally in honor of Tortuguita, the forest defender killed by Atlanta police, Rev Keyanna Jones compared Tort’s wounds to Christ’s on the cross. #progressiveclergy ♬ original sound – Avery Arden (MDiv, they)

And on April 13, Avery posts a podcast with “Coal,” a person in Springfield, Illinois who’s also involved with this Stop Cop City group. From Avery’s Tumblr post:

Coal (he/they) is organizing a solidarity group in Springfield, Illinois, for the Movement to Defend Atlanta’s Forest and Stop Cop City. He understands that what happens in Atlanta will have wide-reaching impacts — from environmental devastation to the way such a huge, hyper-militarized police training facility would set a precedent for similar projects across the nation.

In this second episode in the Stopping Cop City series, Avery deconstructs “outside agitator” rhetoric, while Coal offers their insights on how to support the movement from afar. Together, they also discuss trans intersections and the power behind being able to laugh at our oppressors.

It would seem that Avery has a fairly heavy amount of involvement with this group, which arrest warrants “allege is a group classified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as domestic violent extremists.”

Avery has also shared links to the “Liberation Library,” which has study guides on anarchism and prison/policing abolition.

Screenshot from Avery Arden’s Tumblr, “A Queer Seminarian”

It’s quite clear that despite the attempts to paint Arden as just a former parishioner who happened to be home visiting for a weekend and thrust into this national issue, it’s much more likely that (at a minimum) Arden saw an opening to agitate and took it.

As for Father Tim, his parishioners made their support quite clear at the end of this week’s Mass, which he did not conduct.

St. Raphael also canceled the last two days of its parish school, meaning that the last day was Friday, and there were police visible at the entrance to the church during mass.

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