Culture Clash in Rome on Eve of Homosexual March

By Justin Torres | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Rome ( -Rome has been flooded by religious seekers of all stripes; hundreds of thousands of people have made pilgrimages to the four great Churches of Rome: The Basilica of St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Maria Maggiore and St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

But this week, Rome is also the site of World Pride 2000, a week of conferences, sports events and rallies -- culminating in a march on Saturday -- for the world's homosexual community.

On the eve of the World Pride 2000 March through Rome, organizers of the gathering remain unable to get the Roman government's authorization to march through the historic center of the city as originally planned.

For Roman Catholics, this week is the height of the Millennium Jubilee, a year-long religious celebration of the 2000th anniversary of Christ's birth.

"We're hoping to get permission to march by the Colosseum but we have not received it yet," according to a spokesperson for the organizers of the march.

The original planned route of the march went through the center of Rome on the Via Nazionale and ended at the famous Roman Colosseum. But pressure from Vatican officials, concerned that the march would interfere with activities related to the Roman
Catholic Church's millennium jubilee, convinced Roman authorities to re-route the march to less touristy areas of the city.

March organizers had vowed to protest the new route by staging a demonstration at the Colosseum during Friday's Polish pilgrimage, when 65,000 Poles held religious ceremonies inside the monument. However, no such demonstration materialized.

Those organizers have been unable to provide the media with an official estimate of the number of people who will join the march on Saturday, remaining committed to their expectation of 250,000 marchers, according to their spokesperson.

However, independent estimates, based on hotel occupancy published in Friday's edition of Messagero, a prominent Roman newspaper, placed expected attendance much lower, between 90 and 120,000 people.

See Earlier Stories:

At Night, Roman Marchers Let Loose

Advocates Demand Catholic Ministry to Homosexuals

On the Streets of Rome, An Uneasy Peace