Cathedral of St. John the Divine to be Converted into Makeshift Hospital

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is adding nearly 400 beds to the nave of the church for patients from Mt. Sinai a couple of blocks away. The cathedral leadership had been talking to Mt. Sinai about how it could help, given the space and resources it has.

The cathedral will be working with Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian relief organization run by Franklin Graham that also set up tents in Central Park. That group has drawn criticism for making volunteers agree to a “statement of faith” that opposes same-sex marriage. Councilmember Helen Rosenthal and others have said the city needs to make sure the group does not discriminate against any patients.

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman spoke with Bishop Clifton Daniel about why the cathedral — known for its advocacy of LGBTQ issues — decided to work with the organization. “Now, I know what Franklin Graham stands for, and I am not for what he stands for at all. But at the same time, we’re in the business of saving lives and helping people,” he said, in part. Read the whole interview here.

NEWS | 31 comments | permalink
    1. Natali says:

      A place of worship should only be used as a last resort after all the more neutral places are used up. Pretty sure there are still plenty of non-religious school buildings, hotels, etc. As a Jew, I wouldn’t want to possibly die in a church.

      • Leenie says:

        Hopefully you will have a choice

      • WestSideGuy says:

        Funny. I just said to my wife, it’s a mitzvah to give this space for patients. Being a Jew, if I had to be treated for this, I would be very happy to be in a cathedral!

      • Dandalynn says:

        As a Jew, I would be comfortable being helped by caring strangers, if that was the best option. Thanks to everyone who is donating space, time or resources.

      • Frank H says:

        Seriously? As a Christian, I would much prefer to die in a Synagogue than in a Children’s school or worse, an abandoned warehouse. Religion should have no place in deterring where patients should be cared for during this very troubling period.

      • Max says:

        This is an incredibly insensitive comment during this unprecedented health crisis.

        The Cathedral is offering its resources to NYC hospitals, which in this crisis are stretched beyond their limits. Doctors are falling ill and patients are dying because of lack of equipment and space.

        As an institution committed to charity, love and kindness, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine exemplifies the good works it teaches to people of all faiths.

        I, too, am Jewish. The values I hold- acceptance, compassion, openness, freedom,, kindness, charity, respect- were taught to me at an early age, at an incredible school: The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine.

      • sheila wolk says:

        Natali..I am Jewish too and if I were to pass awayI would not mind being in a temple, church,etc..To be cared for my people of love and faith is known as a BLESSED DEATH. ..your last sentence was offensive to be with the aroma of prejudice…Hope you find peace in your heart…and than the church for opening its doors to HELP in times of NEED 🙂

      • Ad says:

        why, what’s wrong with it?

      • Susan Goldin says:

        I hope you find one and leave the spaces in the church to those who are more grateful.

      • UWS native says:

        Natali, your comment is a SHANDA. You should be ashamed. Please educate yourself. The Cathedral of St John the Divine (btw Episcopal, not Catholic as someone wrote below) is a haven for all human beings and it is a place of peace and acceptance. As a Jew I am offended by your statement. You should be so lucky to have this place available in your time of need. Don’t want to die in a place of beauty, caring and love? Fine, leave a good thing to others. But keep your comments to yourself and again, don’t paint all Jews with this bad brush. Feh!

      • Bob says:

        I wouldn’t mind dying in a different religion’s house of worship — whether a mosque, synagogue, temple, etc. — if the people caring for me were doing so out of love and without prejudice against me.

        My concern here is not with St. John’s, where I think there is absolutely that sort of love for all people, but with Franklin Graham’s organization and its demand for volunteers to, in effect, pledge to hate gay people and to believe that Jews and others of non-Christian faiths are doomed to eternal fire. I would not want to die in the care of anyone who had signed such a pledge, in part because I simply don’t believe that you can think that I’m “evil” and simultaneously provide appropriate medical or palliative care.

      • Bob Evans says:

        There is only one God, so the Christian God is also the Hebrew God and Allah. Where you die is immaterial, and to think otherwise is foolish. How many Gods do you think exist? A church, like a temple or a mosque is only a building, God is in your soul and knows ‘you’ regardless of where you have your ticket punched!

    2. Gerald Sider says:

      It is wonderful that the cathedral is doing this. The old left slogan is: we don’t chose our enemies and we don’t chose our friends – history does that for us. BUT please may the church, in its fundamental decency, tell Franklin Graham that when decency sets up boundaries it ceases to be either decency or morality

      • Brandon says:

        Just to be perfectly clear, this is a Catholic church. Franklin Graham is NOT Catholic. There is no relationship between him and this church.

        • Suzie E says:

          Actually, it’s not a Catholic church, it’s an Episcopal cathedral.

        • Bob says:

          Episcopal church, but still no relationship.

        • Sally says:

          Dear Brandon just to clarify The Cathedral of St John the Divine is Episcopal NOT Catholic and has always welcomed people of all faiths,races,sexual preferences and economic
          backgrounds. Hopefully this partnership with
          Graham will have a mitigating effect on Samaritan Purse’s views. Bravo Cathedral!

      • Jay says:

        Has there been any evidence that the field hospital in Central Park has refused to help anyone?

        I haven’t heard any.

    3. Gretchen says:

      Very mixed feelings about the “homophobes” operating this field hospital. But I totally respect the wonderful Bishop Daniel, as this is a matter of life and death, and we need to put politics aside to save precious lives. But all lives should matter!🏳️‍🌈

      • Anon says:

        When in our lifetimes has the Catholic church implied that any life, gay or straight, does not matter?

        • sg says:

          This is wonderful gesture, but unfortunately there are always haters that need to sour it by falsely implying that Samaritan’s Purse would discriminate in any way. Shame on you WSR…this is always in bad form, but especially so in these extraordinarily difficult times!

    4. TBO says:

      (Can’t tell if my comment went through so sorry for the repost if it did) The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III is the Dean, not bishop, so it should be “[Cathedral] Dean Clifton Daniel”

    5. Kayson212 says:

      As a Jew living through a global pandemic that doesn’t discriminate, I’d be grateful for any hospital bed and effort to save my life regardless of the venue’s religious purpose. I applaud St. John the Divine for assisting Mt. Sinai — formerly St. Luke’s Hospital and like St. John’s, founded by the Episcopal Church.

      • Lady Di says:

        Amen!My jewish mother had a short-lived but agonizing death from lung cancer in a catholic hospital as it was closest to her house. The love,comfort and care she received from the entire staff and in particular the nuns who visited her was above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen.She was shown compassion and kindness from every Sister, and religious beliefs never got in the way.

    6. Fed up with UWS liberalism says:

      Wow. No gratitude for this organization coming to nyc and trying to save lives. That’s just classic. Their volunteers have to sign a statement of faith in accordance with what their faith teaches in the scriptures. That doesn’t mean the volunteers are going to be discriminatory bigots. They’re here to help people, not hurt people because of their sexual orientation. Their statement of faith also means they have to believe in God. Is anyone worried about poor care of atheists??? No, because it’s a non issue. Obviously they didn’t come here in some sort of holy huddle wanting to only take care of people who look and think and act exactly like them. They came here to help people. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, fools.

      • Bob says:

        If the goal is to provide medical care, then why do volunteers have to be Christian? Jewish doctors can provide care as well as Christians can. So when an organization shows up and demands that its volunteers swear not only that they are Christian but also that they are a particularly hateful variety of Christian… I’ve got to ask why. Is it about medical care? Is there any medical purpose to exclude all who want to help but who are not hardcore bigots? Does excluding Jewish doctors help? Or is the purpose instead to force that hardcore bigotry on people by using their illness — is the purpose to proselytize? And if that’s the purpose, what level of medical care can people expect if they reject the proselytizing?

        We’ve all said “thanks” to this organization for what they’re doing — though we should be careful before extending too much thanks, because in the past this organization’s relief efforts have been weak and in some cases caused more deaths than they prevented, so we’ve got to make sure they actually do what they promise before we get too thankful for it. But saying “thanks” does not mean accepting bigotry or remaining silent while bigotry happens. We can both appreciate what they’re doing and make clear that our moral values remain intact, and that we will not let those values be compromised just because bigots happen to have a resource that we desperately need.

    7. Carolyn Gallogly says:

      What is so beautiful about this gesture of refuge for the sick within the Cathedral is that is exactly what cathedrals were known for in the Middle Ages. When someone local was sick, he or she went to the Cathedral for their care. You can still visit the ruins of these cathedrals in England and see those spaces that were dedicated to the care of the sick. Thank you St. John the Divine.

    8. The Cathedral of St John the Divine is taking the right steps to help fight the demon.

      Missionaries are always coming to NYC to further their causes. We have many based in the city constantly trying to influence those to join their causes. Religion of all types has always had some level of bigotry built into them.

      Our opposite political ideologies are also becoming religious, tribal and bigoted. Those on opposite sides have forgotten that we are all people trying to do the best we can based on our beliefs. The gift horse definitely has some cavities.

      The volunteers of Samaritan’s Purse by coming to NYC have the opportunity to learn about us. We as well will be able to see they are not the demons to be shunned. I hope this meeting of opposite minds will result in benefiting all of us.

    9. BeckyOUWS says:

      NYC employment laws and other ordinances prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion. It seems like forcing people, who work in that “field hospital,” or the one in Central Park, to sign a statement of faith is illegal in this town.

      • BekcyOUWS says:

        And just to add: those laws also cover volunteers (paid or unpaid) at any place in the city.