In an exclusive interview with EWTN’s Colm Flynn, Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams shared his faith journey and how his relationship with Christ prompted him to defend Catholicism against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic group.
“It had to be said,” Williams said on EWTN News In Depth. “We cannot stand idly by while Our Lord gets mocked.”
When asked what prompted him to stand up for his faith despite the potential backlash and repercussions, Williams explained that he felt defending his faith was his duty as a Catholic man.
“When I die,” he said, “and St. Peter greets me at the gates, he’s not going to ask what your win-loss record was in 2023. He’s going to ask, ‘How did you build the kingdom of heaven?’”
Williams made headlines on May 30 when he became the first MLB player to denounce the Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
The group is known for using Catholic religious imagery and themes in sexualized performances throughout the country. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the likenesses of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious in ways that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called blasphemous.
Controversy erupted in May when the Dodgers announced they would be honoring the group with a “Community Hero Award” at their Pride night at Dodger Stadium on June 16.
When the rest of baseball was silent, it was Williams who first spoke up.
In a courageous public statement, he decried the Dodgers for honoring a group that, as he put it, makes “a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles county alone.”
— Trevor Williams (@MeLlamoTrevor) May 30, 2023
Williams pointed out that the decision undermined the team’s discrimination policy.
He encouraged Catholics to “reconsider their support of an organization that allows this type of mockery of its fans to occur.”
The statement has since garnered 19.5 million views and thousands of retweets on Twitter.
To watch the interview, visit EWTN on YouTube:
Why stand up?
Williams’ stance was risky in today’s social media-dominated world in which “cancellations” are an almost daily occurrence and LGBTQ+ ideology has become such a hot-button issue.
“Being a Major League Baseball player and my religion being mocked in the realm of Major League Baseball, it only made sense to stick up for my [faith],” Williams said.
In response to the controversy, the group that calls itself the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has asserted that it is not anti-Catholic but rather an organization “based on love, acceptance, and celebrating human diversity.”
Williams told EWTN: “Anyone with two eyes and a brain can see that they’re mocking the religious habits of nuns, they’re mocking what we hold most deeply and our core convictions.”
“When you go out of your way to steal a consecrated eucharistic host to defile it that is not out of love; when you’re desecrating a crucifix or dancing on what appears to be Jesus on a cross that isn’t out of love,” Williams said.
Before making his statement, Williams said he researched the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and as a Catholic found their performances “horrific” and “deeply offensive.”
He was particularly struck by an online video of the Sisters pole dancing on a representation of Jesus on the cross.
“We look at the cross and the crucifixion and we see Jesus dying for us, and his blood soaking us and washing us of our sin,” the pitcher said. “For someone to do that because they say it's ‘art’ and out of love and tolerance, it doesn’t make sense.”
After conducting his research, Williams concluded that the Dodgers were honoring a group that violates their own code of conduct.
“I looked at the Dodgers’ fan code of conduct and it said you cannot wear anything or say anything that goes against anybody’s age, gender, creed, religion,” Williams said.
Despite this code, Williams was horrified when he realized the Dodgers were honoring a group that sends what he saw as “a blatant anti-Catholic message.”
Is standing up hateful?
Though he’s received overwhelming support since making his statement, Williams has taken some criticism from those accusing him of being hateful to the LGBTQ+ community.
To this, Williams responded that he “tried to be as charitable as possible” and that his issue was truly just with “the mockery of it and the Dodgers not following their own rules.”
“It seems to be that it’s okay to make fun of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular,” he pointed out.
“Everyone should feel welcome,” Williams said. “But there comes a point when, if certain groups are going to be openly mocked, then it’s not a welcome spot anymore.”
Williams’ faith journey
Williams, who stands at 6 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 235 pounds, and has long hair and heavily tattooed arms and legs, may not appear like a deeply religious person at the surface level.
Yet, as is often the case, there is more to Williams than meets the eye.
Growing up in San Diego, Williams shared that it was in adoration as a teenager that he first felt called to make his Catholic faith the center of his life.
As a teenager, he was moved by the idea that “every decision you make is going to destroy the kingdom of heaven or build it up.”
To this day, Williams believes that he can best hear the voice of God through silent prayer and adoration.
“[In adoration], you see and adore Our Creator and the King of the Universe right there on the altar,” he said. “I think you need to hear the voice of God first, you need to spend as much time in silence as possible, you need to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Building up the ‘domestic church’
Now, as a 31-year-old MLB pitcher, husband, and father of three boys and a girl, Williams continues to turn toward prayer, the sacraments, and his family for strength.
Building up God’s kingdom in his own home, the “domestic church,” has become his main priority, even above baseball.
“My wife and I have been extremely blessed; we have been given so much,” Williams said.
“Now I’m trying to teach my children to love Jesus and his Church as best as they can,” he said. “How do we do that in our domestic church with my wife and I? How do we show them this in the world?”
These questions, Williams said, factored into his decision to take a public stance in defense of his faith against the Dodgers.
“I want to be able to show my children that we have to stand and walk by our faith,” Williams said. “If they ever get tested at some point in their life, I want them to know that it’s OK to stand up for our faith.”
Support from fellow players
While being the first to stand up for the faith can seem daunting, Williams said that since he made his statement, he has received overwhelming support not only from the Christian community but also from the baseball community.
“I hit ‘send tweet’ and I threw my phone and logged out and I was like, ‘We’ll see how it does,’” Williams shared with a laugh. “But I’ve had a lot of people come out and reach out to me [in support]. Former teammates, current teammates, even stadium workers.”
“Just walking through the tunnels getting to the clubhouse I had stadium workers come up to me and thank me,” he said. “I’ve had really good conversations with teammates about this, people thanking me, teammates thanking me for what I did.”
Many were grateful because, as he put it, “a lot of people feel like they either don’t have a big enough voice to say something or they’re afraid of the backlash.”
Despite the hesitations and fears, Williams believes that “there is a longing for truth,” even inside Major League Baseball stadiums.
“I’ve noticed it in locker rooms my entire life and clubhouses my entire life,” Williams said. “There is a desire for truth and that desire comes from within, from someone who loves you immensely.”
Williams hopes that his witness as a Catholic man of faith will help people to see “you are loved more than you can imagine or more than you know. And that inkling of truth that you want to go seek and find is out there and it’s within Christ and his Church.”