By DEXTER DUGGAN
Pope Francis warned about the reality of the Devil and his evil during daily Mass in Rome on Friday, April 11, two days before Palm Sunday.
As it happened, an image of the Devil cavorted on stage thousands of miles away, at a major religious university in southern California, on the evening of Thursday, April 10.
However, evil was celebrated instead of being warned against at the prominent school that describes itself as Catholic, the University of San Diego (USD).
Its web site says, “As a nationally ranked Catholic university, the University of San Diego is dedicated to preparing ethical and compassionate leaders inspired to create lasting social change in our global society.”
The Pope was reported by various news services, including CNSNews.com, to have said at his April 11 Mass:
“Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old-fashioned you are to speak about the Devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the Devil is present! The Devil is here, even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”
Meanwhile, a professional California drag queen dressed in satanic garb, including a black robe with high collar and a goat-horn headdress, concluded the program at “Supreme Drag Superstar III” — the third annual drag show, billed as a “celebration of gender expression,” at the USD campus overlooking San Diego’s Mission Valley.
The male performer, who goes by the name Tootie Keanuenue Nefertootie, lip-synched the lyrics to Good ‘n’ Evil from the musical Jekyll and Hyde, which gives the edge to evil: “Evil is everywhere. Good doesn’t have a prayer!”
What made this year’s drag show an even greater celebration of defiance of Catholicism was the statement from the Vatican before the performance that these gender events caused “scandal” that the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education would address with “the competent ecclesiastical authority in San Diego.”
An orthodox Catholic who attended the packed performance on campus at Shiley Theatre, in order to alert others to the effrontery, reported that other performers included:
— A tall man in a red-sequined mini-dress with white, elbow-length gloves, black hose, and black high heels, accompanied by two male dancers;
— A man wearing a frilly yellow mini-dress, surrounded by what appeared to be young women wearing animal masks;
— A male-female duo with the male in a purple Mexican folk-dance dress with rainbow trim, and the young woman dressed as a matador;
— A young man in a blue dress and blonde wig, accompanied by two female backup dancers, spoofing Britney Spears’ song I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman;
— Three young women who impersonated males Justin Timberlake and his former boy band ‘N Sync singing their hit Bye Bye Bye;
— “The Two Blues Queer Brothers” providing the evening’s variation on the Blues Brothers.
The Catholic Diocese of San Diego did nothing publicly known to prevent the event celebrated in its jurisdiction, nor even made a peep of protest against it.
Orthodox Catholics may regard this as starkly illustrative of a U.S. hierarchy surrendering morality before an aggressive secular culture — and the surrender only encouraging more aggression by the militant secularists.
Two local orthodox Catholic activists were perplexed by the diocese’s silence because they received a private letter last December from the Congregation for Catholic Education saying that, “in view of the gravity of the case, it is worth mentioning that in light of the show and the scandal that it caused, this Congregation intends to act through administrative channels to the competent ecclesiastical authority in San Diego.”
The two activists said the diocese would make no comment to them as this year’s show approached.
These activists are attorney Charles LiMandri, a USD alumnus and founder of Alumni for a Catholic USD and president of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, and Thomas McKenna, founder and president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, a San Diego-based national organization.
In an April 14 joint telephone interview with The Wanderer, the two activists stressed that they wanted to follow every correct, canonical procedure and weren’t trying to embarrass the diocese’s new bishop, Cirilo Flores, even as they tried to stop the university event.
“We’ve never criticized the bishop,” LiMandri said. “All we know is, the drag show went on” four days earlier.
The USD administration and faculty turned out “in full force” along with students for the recent show, they said.
In an April 7 news release, the two activists recounted that they “filed canonical petitions last year with Church authorities, asking them to review the situation and, if appropriate, intervene to stop and denounce the event, which has become a yearly practice at the University of San Diego since 2012.
“. . .Following the drag show in 2012, the petitioners went to Rome and consulted with Vatican officials from various Congregations and were encouraged to pursue this action,” the news release continued. “After the Supreme Drag Show II in 2013, they made their case providing extensive and well-documented exhibits. ‘The Vatican personnel viewed the case very seriously and had their experts review the material as well,’ McKenna stated.”
LiMandri wrote in an April 14 e-mail to The Wanderer: “It is obvious to us at this point that the USD administration actually supports the aggressive promotion of the radical homosexual agenda on this ‘Catholic’ campus. That militant anti-Catholic agenda is now fully institutionalized and entrenched. That is why I felt compelled to remove my son from USD.
“I cannot answer as to what the diocese has or has not done since they have not been responsive to our inquiries,” LiMandri added.
He said coverage of the 2014 drag event was being posted at Alumni for a Catholic USD (www.alumniforacatholicusd.org), a site, he said, that has had more than 1.1 million hits in two years despite “little or no promotion.”
Two officials at the diocese didn’t respond to e-mail requests by The Wanderer for comment on April 14.
This newspaper e-mailed, in part: “The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education is reported as saying that because of ‘the scandal that [the drag show] caused, this congregation intends to act through administrative channels to the competent ecclesiastical authority in San Diego.’ Would that authority be the diocese or the bishop? If so, have they received communication from the Vatican and responded to it? What was said?”
When The Wanderer had reported on the university’s drag show in spring 2013, as Robert Brom’s lengthy service as San Diego bishop drew toward a close, diocesan chancellor Rod Valdivia told this newspaper that the diocese hadn’t issued a statement on the show and didn’t foresee issuing one.
LiMandri and McKenna went on the local television show of national radio talk host Roger Hedgecock on April 9, the day before this year’s drag show. LiMandri told The Wanderer that Hedgecock’s “whole thing [question] is, like everyone else’s is: ‘Why wouldn’t the bishop listen to the Vatican?’”
In Hedgecock’s regular column last year at U-T San Diego, the region’s major daily media platform, concerning the drag show, he questioned what had become of USD since his own middle-class parents and thousands of other donors helped build it decades ago.
The two activists told The Wanderer they’ve “done everything we can respectfully” to resolve the matter, first approaching USD, then the diocese, then Vatican authorities. When this year’s scheduled show drew closer, the activists asked the Vatican if they could release information about the congregation letter addressing “scandal,” and received permission to do so. Nevertheless, the drag show occurred.
“The main message is the school is doing something the Vatican says is wrong,” LiMandri said. But “they won’t back off” at USD.
When The Wanderer asked ironically if USD was giving up Catholicism for Lent, LiMandri laughed and replied, “They’ve done it three years in a row now — the week of or the week before Holy Week” to have the drag show.
USD took a lower public profile this year in defending the show, the activists said, adding that remarks in a U-T San Diego article posted April 9 are the only ones they’re aware of.
The article said USD spokesman Tim O’Malley “said there’s nothing in the event that violates the canons of the Catholic Church.” It quoted O’Malley as saying: “We do not mean to demean our critics. Gender expression and identity, for some people, is not an area to be explored. For some people, that simply is wrong. However, the law of the Church is silent on cross-dressing. There no evidence that cross-dressing is inherently homosexual.”
The drag show wasn’t widely advertised around San Diego this year, LiMandri said, because promoting it to the community wasn’t the purpose. “What they’re trying to do is…inculcate the students into this agenda.”
LiMandri told The Wanderer there are penalties under canon law for perpetrating a scandal, but that’s a matter for the Vatican.