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The Los Angeles Dodgers will go through with their initial decision to honor a group on Friday night that has been the center of controversy over the past several weeks over what critics have called the organization’s anti-Catholic messaging.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which features performers in drag wearing traditional religious habits, will be honored with a community award for their “lifesaving work” during the team’s 10th annual Pride Night celebration at Dodger Stadium.
The weeks leading up to Friday’s events featured several reversals from the Dodgers and included harsh backlash from politicians, religious leaders and some MLB players.
DODGERS HONOR SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE
The Dodgers announced May 4 that they would be hosting their 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night at Dodger Stadium on June 16, where the Los Angeles chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence would be honored with the 2023 Community Hero Award “for their countless hours of community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, in addition to promoting human rights and respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.”
The announcement was immediately met with harsh backlash over what many called the group’s “anti-Catholic” messaging, including Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who sent a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
DODGERS RESPOND TO OUTRAGE
After mounting pressure, the Dodgers released a statement two weeks later announcing they had rescinded their invitation to the group “given the strong feelings of people who have been offended.”
“This year, as part of a full night of programming, we invited a number of groups to join us. We are now aware that our inclusion of one group in particular — The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — in this year’s Pride Night has been the source of some controversy,” the team said at the time.
“Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees.”
But advocates for the group’s inclusion fired back, with many groups, including LA Pride, announcing it would no longer be attending the event as a result.
The Dodgers reversed their stance yet again May 22, issuing an apology to The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and invited them again to the event, where they would be the recipients of the 2023 Community Hero Award.
“After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities, honest conversations within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and generous discussions with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their friends and families,” a team statement said.
“We have asked The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to take their place on the field at our 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night on June 16th. We are pleased to share that they have agreed to receive the gratitude of our collective communities for the lifesaving work that they have done tirelessly for decades.”
KERSHAW SPEAKS UP
Clayton Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, spoke out days after the Dodgers moved to welcome the group back, saying the organization was relaunching its Christian Faith and Family Day for the first time since 2019.
“I think we were always going to do Christian Faith Day this year, but I think the timing of our announcement was sped up,” Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times last month. “Picking a date and doing those different things was part of it as well. Yes, it was in response to the highlighting of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence [by the Dodgers].”
Kershaw said it was “tough” to see the explicit videos that were shared on social media showing the group portraying Christianity in a negative fashion.
“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” he said. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don’t think that, no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion. So, that’s something that I definitely don’t agree with.”
MLB PLAYERS JOIN THE BACKLASH
Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams also released a statement saying he was “deeply troubled” by the Dodgers’ decision.
“A Major League Baseball game is a place where people from all walks of life should feel welcomed, something I greatly respect and support. This is the purpose of different themed nights hosted by the organization, including Pride Night,” Williams wrote. “To invite and honor a group that makes a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles County alone, undermines the values of respect and inclusivity that should be upheld by any organization.”
Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen also issued a statement condemning the group.
“This group openly mocks Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of my faith, and I want to make it clear that I do not agree with nor support the decision of the Dodgers to ‘honor’ The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” he said.
PROTESTING WITH PRAYER
Archbishop José H. Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles invited all area Catholics to a Mass kicking off a day of prayer on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus planned for Friday.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the episcopal conference of the U.S., issued a statement Monday urging Catholics to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart as an act of reparation.
“This year, on June 16 — the day of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus — a professional baseball team has shockingly chosen to honor a group whose lewdness and vulgarity in mocking our Lord, His Mother and consecrated women cannot be overstated,” the bishops said.
“This is not just offensive and painful to Christians everywhere; it is blasphemy.”
This article orginally appeared on Fox News Digital. Fox News’ Christine Rousselle and The Associated Press contributed to this report.