Dominican NYers Slam Reactions of DR Clergy to Gay U.S. Ambassador

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez  blessing XIX Concert of Holy Friday in Santo Domingo.   (Photo by Fernando Rossi, Flickr Creative Commons Licence)

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez at the XIX Concert of Holy Friday ceremony in Santo Domingo. (Photo by Fernando Rossi, Flickr Creative Commons Licence)

Elected officials and Upper Manhattan residents of Dominican descent praised President Barack Obama’s choice of an openly gay ambassador to the Dominican Republic, while at the same time criticizing the heated opposition of the Caribbean island’s religious leaders to the decision.

Upon finding out the nomination of James “Wally” Brewster – a reputable businessman and the national LGBT co-chair of the Democratic National Committee – as ambassador to Santo Domingo, important figures in the Dominican Catholic Church held a press conference to voice their criticisms.

Monsignor Pablo Cedano said that “it is a lack of respect to send… a person of this condition as ambassador,” adding, “if he comes [to the Dominican Republic] he will suffer and he’ll have to leave.”

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez outright called Brewster a “maricón” (“faggot”).

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, however, fully support Obama’s decision.

“Brewster’s sexual orientation is completely irrelevant,” asserted the representative. “He’s a successful professional and businessman who understands the region’s economy and political situation.”

Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa lamented the angry reaction from Catholic leaders.

“While I respect everyone’s religious beliefs, using religion as justification to make offensive comments is unacceptable,” said Rosa. “I think that the majority of Catholics – like me, I’m a practicing Catholic – would be outraged that others would use religion to permit language that can incite violence and hatred.”

Some Dominicans in Upper Manhattan also took in the religious leaders’ remarks with astonishment.

“It’s hard for me to believe that a cardinal from my country and my religion would attack a man like that simply for being gay,” said Antigua Collado, who lives in Inwood. “If Pope Francisco is as good as they say, he shouldn’t allow it.”

El movimiento Dominicanos Laicos [the Dominican Laity movement] has already written a letter to the Apostolic Nunciature in which they demanded the resignation of Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, and that the Concordat between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic be regulated or annulled.

If Brewster’s nomination is confirmed, he will become the seventh openly gay U.S. ambassador in the nation’s history.

“Obama is a very intelligent man and if he has chosen an ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a country that is very close, it’s because he’s [Brewster] a capable man, not because he’s gay,” said Juan Padilla, another Dominican resident of Upper Manhattan.

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