Catholic Bigotry and the Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers recently decided to re-invite a virulently anti-Catholicgroup to the team’s Pride Night event.

This is the same group that had originally been scheduled to receive a community service award but was uninvited for a brief period of time.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Catholic Vote, the Catholic League, and other Christian groups had condemned the original decision, and the team had promptly rescinded the invite.

However, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the ACLU, several Democrat politicians, and the media began accusing the baseball team of bigotry.

In the midst of the uproar, the Los Angeles Angels baseball team issued a public invite of its own to the aforementioned anti-Catholicgroup.

That’s when the Dodgers re-invited the group and proceeded to issue an apology for having previously uninvited it.

It is puzzling at a minimum that both LA teams have endorsed a group that has a long history of being dedicated to anti-Catholic activities.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has weighed in, issuing a statement condemning the Dodgers for “the decision to honor a group that clearly mocks the Catholic faith and makes light of the sincere and holy vocations of our women religious who are an integral part of our Church,” adding that the invitation to the group “has caused disappointment, concern, anger, and dismay from our Catholic community.”

The LA Archdiocese further stated that it “stands against any actions that would disparage and diminish our Christian faith and those who dedicate their lives to Christ.”

The decision by the Dodgers also drew the ire of the Twitter account of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

“Our Catholic sisters devote themselves to serving others selflessly. Decent people would not mock & blaspheme them,” the archbishop tweeted. “So we now know what gods the Dodger admin worships. Open desecration & anti-Catholicism is not disqualifying. Disappointing but not surprising. Gird your loins.”

CatholicVote has vowed to launch a “barrage” of advertising against the team across Los Angeles and during game broadcasts.

“This is a slap in the face of every Catholic…and we will pummel this decision in advertising that the Dodgers can’t ignore,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch said in a statement.

“Every advertiser, every season ticket holder, every charity, every fan must speak out against the Dodgers’ decision to promote anti-Catholic hate,” Burch added.

He questioned why the Dodgers would honor a group that is, among other descriptives, clearly “anti-Catholic.”

This particular group has a fairly long history of mocking and insulting Catholic religious figures, tenets, and symbols. Antipathy toward Catholic Christians is routinely expressed both directly and indirectly.

The Catholic League has published a report citing numerous examples of bigotry against Catholicism in general and Catholic nuns in particular.

The list includes a sham exorcism, a sham Mass that blasphemes the Lord and Savior of Christianity, a sham Sacrament of Holy Communion, a sham vile version of the Stations of the Cross devotion, a sham mockery of the holy day of Good Friday, and a sham irreverent ridicule of Easter Sunday.

Although he is a professed Catholic, President Joe Biden has said nothing about the debacle.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue is seeking to convince Catholics in the Los Angeles area to skip the Pride Night event scheduled for June 16.

Unfortunately, like so many other things in life, America’s favorite pastime has been politicized.

In the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own,” Tom Hanks’s character Jimmy Dugan utters the famous line: “There’s no crying in baseball!”

Well, Jimmy, there’s crying in baseball today.

Shia LaBeouf’s Faith Enhancing Film Role

Shia LaBeouf is a changed man. And it looks as though the spiritual prep for his latest movie role deserves a lot of the credit.

Playing the lead in the upcoming biopic “Padre Pio” appears to have guided the actor toward a new commitment to Christianity.

The film relays the real life story of one of the most beloved Catholic priests and humanitarian figures, an individual who within Catholicism has been given the designation of “Saint.”

Padre Pio was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and has been venerated in the Roman Catholic Church ever since.

He was known around the globe for manifestations that many believe could only have emanated from above.

Over the course of his lifetime in shepherding his flock, he exhibited numerous supernatural phenomena and miraculous occurrences, including the marks of stigmata (wounds on the body that correspond to those suffered by the crucified Christ), visions, healings, and the ability to bi-locate and prophesy.

The Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is located in the Province of Foggia, Italy, the southern Italian region (Puglia), where much of the filming of the “Padre Pio” movie took place.

Shia accepted the starring role of the film in the summer of 2021 and immediately arranged to spend time with a group of Capuchin Franciscan friars who resided in Northern California.

Traveling later to Rome, he went to stay at a monastery in southern Italy, the same locale in which the movie had initially been filmed. He even chose to sleep in the same bed where Padre Pio had rested his head.

In a recent conversation with Bishop Robert Barron, Shia revealed how he was led to become a Catholic Christian.

Referring to the time spent at the California monastery, he said, “When I walked into this, my life was on fire.”

The “fire” of which he spoke related to the personal tribulation he was going through, not only dealing with feelings of shame and depression, but even thoughts of ending it all. This was because back in 2020 his former girlfriend had sued him, accusing him of sexual assault.

In the aftermath of the debilitating experience, Shia parted with his agency and made the decision to take time off from his career.

He described a moment where serious suicidal thoughts were flooding his mind.

“I had a gun on the table. I was outta here,” he said. “I didn’t want to be alive anymore when all this happened.”

He also described the depth of emotion that had overtaken him.

“Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe. You don’t know where to go…,” he said.

He came to a point where his past actions made him feel as though he wasn’t worthy of being loved by God or of being received into a faith community.

He would soon be in for a blessed surprise. Living with the friars, he got to experience the love and support his heart and soul were aching for.

As Shia interacted with the friars and immersed himself in the Bible, he felt an “invite” to “let go” of obstacles.

Learning about the gifts of repentance, redemption and forgiveness convinced him of that all-important truth – in God’s eyes he is, as we all are, precious, worthy, and yes, loved beyond measure.

“It was seeing other people who have sinned beyond anything I could ever conceptualize also being found in Christ that made me feel like, ‘Oh, that gives me hope,’” he explained. “I started hearing experiences of other depraved people who had found their way in this, and it made me feel like I had permission.”

A transformational event in Shia’s personal journey was experiencing the Catholic Mass in its traditional Latin form.

“While we were practicing Latin Mass, I was having genuine emotional experiences,” he said.

Shia thought he had taken on the “Padre Pio” movie part for career reasons. However, he eventually came to realize that the Ultimate Director was working on a most beautiful subplot.

“I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him. Drawing me away from worldly desires. It was all happening simultaneously,” he said. “The reach-out had happened. I was already there, I had nowhere to go. This was the last stop on the train. There was nowhere else to go—in every sense.”

No doubt Shia’s spiritual path has been a unique one. His mother is Jewish and his father is a Christian. Both a bar mitzvah and a baptism graced his childhood.

As his first religious denomination, he chose his mother’s Jewish faith. Then in 2004 he shared that he had a “personal relationship with God that happens to work within the confines of Judaism.”

He later discovered his father’s Christian conviction while filming a movie. He said in an interview in 2014, “I found God doing [the film] Fury. I became a Christian man. Brad [Pitt] was really instrumental in guiding my head through this.”

In June of 2022, while at a park in Pasadena, California, he was seen reuniting with his estranged father, where the two read from Bibles as they sat next to one another.

Shia sees his religious pilgrimage as analogous to his method acting approach.

“I like to be immersive,” he said. “I like all immersive experiences, not just acting. That’s probably why I like Catholicism as well. I like adventure, and that requires full immersion.”

It seems to me that we could all use an immersive experience in faith these days.

“Padre Pio” is scheduled to premiere at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival, which runs from August 31 to September 10.