Catholics criticize archdiocese for inviting pro-gay comedian to faith formation event
March 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archdiocese of Omaha has invited a Catholic comedian who supports homosexuality and the pro-abortion Women’s March to perform and its upcoming faith formation event. A number of Catholics in the diocese are not happy about the invite.
Jesuit-educated comedian Jim Gaffigan leverages being Catholic in his comedy routines, leading some to hold him up as a model of faithful Catholicism. His having performed for Pope Francis at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is used to plug him as Catholic as well, along with the fact that he and wife Jeannie have five children.
And while Gaffigan is largely regarded as a clean comic, Catholics are taking issue with the archdiocese booking for its June 8th ArchOmaha Unite event a celebrity who publicly identifies as Catholic while also diverging from Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Gaffigan’s appearance at the event creates scandal in their view, by ostensibly conveying the archdiocese’s support for the problematic things Gaffigan has supported publicly.
The Church could and should do better in presenting the faith to its Catholics, critics say, and the archdiocese and its agents promoting the event are brushing off their concerns. Some Catholics were concerned about repercussion when asked about sharing their thoughts on the record.
“I feel like if our archdiocese wants to promote Catholic unity in Omaha, why not bring someone to speak truth and doctrine,” said local Catholic Micki Mahowald to LifeSiteNews. “Find someone who will promote Catholic teaching all the time, not someone who clearly doesn't even stand up for his values on his own show,” she added.
'One-day Catholic party'
The ArchOmaha Unite event was created to bring the people of the archdiocese together amid division in the world, the event website states. It is funded by private donors and business sponsors and is being promoted by local Catholic radio.
One bulletin announcement terms the event, “a vibrant, joy-filled, one-day Catholic party...”
“ArchOmaha Unite is about YOU,” according to the event “About” webpage, the section containing the words you/your 16 times, but the word “Christ” only once.
“A comedian at a Catholic event? Absolutely!” the archdiocese said on its Facebook page. “And who better than Grammy-nominated comedian, actor, writer, best-selling author, and hot pocket-lover Jim Gaffigan!”
“A Catholic father of five known for family-friendly jokes, Jim performed for Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015,” the post continued. “His hilarious takes on food, faith, and life with kids will bring notes of lighthearted joy to our celebration.”
"Two A-Listers you’ll want to experience at ArchOmaha Unite: The Holy Spirit, who will infuse you with the fire of his love; but also someone else who may surprise you. Here’s a hint: you will laugh – very hard."
In promoting its event, the archdiocese tweeted Gaffigan’s “Barely Catholic” bit. In it, the comedian has a conversation with an icon of Christ come-to-life in which Gaffigan jokes about the difficulty he has getting to Mass because he doesn’t like to get up in the morning and because he likes to make pancakes when he does get up.
“A conversation with Jesus imagined by @JimGaffigan, a self-described lazy Catholic,” the archdiocese’s tweet stated, then linking to a video of the bit. “Don’t miss Catholic Comedian, @JimGaffigan, performing at ArchOmaha Unite on June 8, 2019. #ArchOmahaUnite #FridayFun.”
Although the gathering includes Mass, adoration, Confession and other faith-themed programming, the event highlight page lists Gaffigan and other programming above the main event involving Omaha Archbishop George Lucas. And the Pentecost Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and Confession land further yet down the highlight page.
“You might even get the archbishop to do his Jim Gaffigan impression!” the section on the main event with Lucas states.
'I'm so proud of my gay kids'
Gaffigan along with his wife Jeannie and their five children attended the 2017 homosexual pride parade in New York City. The comedian and his wife, who was wearing a rainbow t-shirt, both posted about it on social media, with photos of their kids waving rainbow flags. Homosexual pride events are notorious for graphic sexual displays and nudity.
Gaffigan's support for homosexuality goes further back than this. In a 2012 episode of the TV show Portlandia, Gaffigan’s character kisses his homosexual business partner on the lips. The episode also contains further references to active homosexuality. The 2012 episode had preceded Gaffigan’s World Meeting of Families appearance with Pope Francis by three years.
Additionally, Gaffigan’s television program, The Jim Gaffigan Show, which ran two seasons from 2015-2016 and was based loosely on his life with his wife and family, featured an openly homosexual character and regularly employed humor derived from the homosexual lifestyle.
Gaffigan joked on Twitter about the openly homosexual character on his television program as recently as March 7, posting video of a scene in a hotel room where his character was mistaken for the homosexual character’s lover.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are gravely immoral and can never be condoned. Individuals experiencing same-sex attraction, which the Church teaches is "objectively disordered," are to be treated with "respect" as children of God. They are called to live chastely.
They have been profiled by Catholic News Agency, the National Catholic Register and Aleteia, and they gave the 2016 commencement address for the Catholic University of America as well as the 2018 address for Marquette University.
At least one individual involved in promoting the Omaha event has offered local Catholics the explanation that the Gaffigans happened upon the gay pride parade by chance, inferring they didn’t mean to be there, but neglected to effectively address the fact the couple promoted their being there with their kids on social media, or that the pictures they shared of their family showed express support for the event via both images and words, the explanation saying simply that the Gaffigan’s had joked about it.
Gaffigan had also tweeted support for the radical pro-abortion women’s march in January 2017.
The Archdiocese of Omaha did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ inquiry on how it reconciles giving Gaffigan a venue at its faith formation event given his public support for issues that conflict with Church teaching.
In contacting the archdiocese and others promoting the event, some of the concerned local Catholics referenced previous LifeSiteNews reporting on Gaffigan and his family attending the NYC gay pride parade.
The archbishop and others planning the event were aware of the LifeSite article, the Catholics were told, as though there was no issue with the Gaffigan's attending the homosexual pride event and showing support for it on social media.
Gaffigan’s World Meeting of Families appearance before the pope was also given as a defense for the invite. Event planners had been in touch with event hosts from Gaffigan’s previous engagements, critics were told, and steps had been taken to ensure Gaffigan’s ArchOmaha Unite performance would be appropriate for the audience. It was further stated that Gaffigan was not invited to preach the Catholic faith, rather to perform as a Catholic entertainer. Gaffigan’s public support for homosexuality, potentially conveying to others that the archdiocese has no problem with that support, was not addressed.
'Why not bring someone to speak truth?'
Local Catholic Micki Mahowald received a standard email invitation to the ArchOmaha Unite event from Archbishop Lucas because she’s supported the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal in the past. She questions the decision to give Gaffigan a venue at a Catholic event.
She replied to Lucas’ email saying she appreciates the desire to bring the archdiocese together, but bringing a comedian who is a promoter of active homosexual couples on his show and promoting it as a family show is not the way to do it.
She has not yet received any response from the archdiocese.
“I just feel like if this comedian is so willing to promote alternative lifestyles on his TV show, I question what he will talk about when he is in front of a live audience with no filters in place,” she told LifeSiteNews. “I feel like if our archdiocese wants to promote Catholic unity in Omaha, why not bring someone to speak truth and doctrine? Find someone who will promote Catholic teaching ALL THE TIME, not someone who clearly doesn't even stand up for his values on his own show.”
Becky Rosales, another local Catholic concerned with the Gaffigan invite, also raised her concerns with the archdiocese but has received no response.
“I have received no response from the archdiocese’s communication office, the archbishop, the event team, KVSS (local Catholic radio) or the archdiocese ArchUnite hotline,” Rosales told LifeSiteNews. “I have touched almost every base and no one wants to answer.”
She said she wants three questions answered.
“If a family enjoys the censored program of Jim Gaffigan, and goes home and gets on Youtube and finds his pro-sodomite video, does the archdiocese think it is okay to lead souls into sin?” she asked. “Does the archdiocese agree with Jim Gaffigan and his wife's agenda on homosexuals?”
And finally, “So what happens when a family says "he was funny we should look him up on Netflix, isn't that leading to an occasion of sin?”
Tom Coffey, another local Catholic, called the diocese to discuss the event and Gaffigan’s appearance, and was repeatedly referred to the email contact for "the team" at Unite.
“Can you please explain why, with everything that is going on in the hierarchy of the Church, you would invite Jim Gaffigan a comedian who promotes the gay lifestyle to entertain?” he asked. “Does the archbishop approve of this? What are you people thinking? Don't we have enough scandal already? Please tell me why you think this is a good thing to do.”
His email netted a response saying Gaffigan had been invited by the archdiocese “with the goal of creating an event that a wide variety of Catholics in the pews would consider attending to grow in their faith and experience unity.”
Archdiocesan officials had “conducted extensive research” into Gaffigan’s material and performances for the Pope and FOCUS International, it said, and negotiated a contract that gives the archdiocese “confidence that Gaffigan will deliver exactly what has been requested – a lighthearted, funny afternoon session that is appropriate for Catholics of all ages.”
Coffey was also told his email had been forwarded to the archdiocese, but he has not heard from the archdiocese.
“I can summarize my thoughts by stating that the Church hierarchy seems to have long abandoned any meaningful concern for the salvation of souls,” Coffey told LifeSiteNews. “Being 'of' the world seems to be their primary concern.”
Area Catholic Dann Ciembor also wrote to the archdiocese with concerns over Gaffigan’s appearance and continues to await a response.
Ciembor told LifeSiteNews he’d addressed several points of contention in his letter.
“First, I addressed Gaffigan and his family's obvious and unapologetic support of the 'gay rights' movement, both in his personal life and in his career,” he said.
Ciembor said Gaffigan’s statement of being proud of his “gay kids” at the 2017 gay pride parade was appalling.
“Photos from the parade they went to surfaced as well, and the visuals he exposed his family to were abominable,” Ciembor stated. “He also has normalized same-sex acts and lifestyles in his acting career on television.”
“The catechism doesn’t leave room for interpretation on these issues,” he said, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357-59 on chastity and homosexuality.
Ciembor then emphasized how little he felt the organizers of this event thought out Gaffigan’s participation considering the current climate in the Church.
“We are on the tail end of a meeting of bishops and cardinals in the Vatican where the issue of homosexuality in the priesthood was completely ignored and lay Catholics far and wide have expressed significant disappointment,” said Ciembor. “We are at a point in our Church culture that if we cannot rely on our leaders to follow doctrine and remedy the countless errors being preached every day, then the lay faithful must do what it seems we cannot trust them to do.”
“Bringing into the spotlight a ‘Catholic’ celebrity who goes directly against the teaching of our Church is not a step in that direction,” he said.
“This event will most certainly bring out many Catholics who are looking to enter into, or come back to, the faith,” Ciembor pointed out. “What kind of message is the archdiocese sending if they are willing to scandalize the faithful with Gaffigan’s message?”
To respectfully express concern:
Archbishop George Lucas
Archdiocese of Omaha
100 N 62nd St.
Omaha, Nebraska 68132
Ph: 402.558.3100 ext. 3027
Email: [email protected]