“You don’t honor a saint by encouraging a sin,” said Phil Lawler, the editor and founder of Catholic World News, adding that if the parade has been so diluted over the years to not qualify as a “Catholic event,” then there should be “no reviewing stand outside St. Patrick’s cathedral, no sign of Church sponsorship. Cardinal Dolan should step aside as grand marshal.”
Pat Archbold, a prominent blogger for the National Catholic Register, owned by EWTN, said that “Cardinal Dolan must publicly reject the offer to be grand marshal and encourage the organizers to cancel the parade rather than accede to the demands of NBC.”
In an "Open Letter to Cardinal Dolan," the Catholic Citizens of Illinois implored him “to withdraw as grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of the great probability of misunderstandings, confusion and scandal among the faithful.”
Over the years, controversy has arisen over the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held annually on March 17, because, while all people – gay or straight -- were welcome to march, they were not allowed to do so under their own banner, such as a contingent of “Irish Queers” with their own banner or, back in 1993, a contingent of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization.
For 2015, the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade committee decided to change the rules and allow certain groups to march in the parade under their own banner. This rule change theoretically would include pro-life groups as well as pro-homosexual groups, and specifically OUT@NBCUniversal, the LGBT employee alliance at NBC, the network that broadcasts the parade.
That rule change was announced last week and on Wednesday, Sept. 3, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who oversees the archdiocese of New York and its 2.6 million Catholics, agreed to be grand marshal of the parade.
“The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee continues to have my confidence and support,” said Card. Dolan in a statement. “Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade (or any of the other parades that march along Fifth Avenue, for that matter), but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organizers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage. My predecessors and I have always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades.”
At a Sept. 3 press conference announcing his appointment to be the grand marshal, Card. Dolan said of the committee’s rule change for specific groups, “I have no trouble with the decision at all. I think the decision is a wise one.”
Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said that same day, “Never in the history of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade have homosexuals been barred from marching, anymore than pro-life Catholics have, but in both cases they were not permitted to have their own unit. I have been assured that the rules have been formally changed to allow both of these groups, as well as others, to march under their own banner. That being the case, there should be no controversy.”
However, there are indications that other pro-homosexual groups may participate in the parade and, said Donohue on Sept. 6, "If it gets to the point where the Catholic element is completely diluted, then I will no longer march in the parade.”
In an article headlined, “NY Archdiocese Should Sever Ties With St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” Phil Lawler said, “Next year there will be only one story-line of interest to the reporters who cover the annual parade in the world’s media capital: the triumph of the gay activists. Photographers will be competing for the one ‘money’ shot: the picture of the contingent from OUT@NBCUniversal marching past the reviewing stand at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, under the benign smile of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.”
“And the media will be right to concentrate on that story line, because this is a significant advance for homosexual activists, a significant retreat for the Catholic Church,” said Lawler. “A generation ago, the late Cardinal John O’Connor said that it would be impossible to include proponents of homosexuality in a Catholic event. Now they will be included ….”
“If this really is a Catholic event, it cannot include a group defined by its opposition to Church teaching,” said Lawler. “If it is a Catholic event, forget Guinness, forget NBC, forget the hoopla, and quietly honor St. Patrick.”
Pat Archbold with the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register said, “If a parade that is meant to honor a great saint is being used to promote a sinful agenda, it should be cancelled rather than allow it to be used in such a way. It is one thing for a parade committee to fold under pressure, but it is quite another that the Cardinal Archbishop of New York would be asked to lend his name and office to the parade. Such an action can be viewed in no other way than total capitulation to gay identity groups.”
After confirming that the rules change had occurred and that Card. Dolan agreed to be grand Marshall, Archbold added to his remarks the following: “Cardinal Dolan's statement is disingenuous. The issue at hand has never been who can march in the parade. I am quite certain that gay people have always marched in the parade. What is at issue is people marching under a banner identifying themselves and promoting sin as normative.”
“The acceptance of the parade committee and the Cardinal is nothing less than the public acceptance of the normative nature of gay identity,” said Archbold. “That Cardinal Dolan's statement clearly attempts to dissemble on this critical point is shameful, if unsurprising.”
Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.TV told CNSNews.com that by agreeing to serve as grand marshal, Card. Dolan was “more than giving the appearance [of condoning the LGBT group]. He is actually legitimizing it. This is not a question of can a person who has same-sex attraction march in the parade. That has probably been going on since 1762 [when the parade first started]. That’s not the issue.”
When asked whether Card. Dolan should resign as the grand marshal, Voris said, “I think Cardinal Dolan should resign as cardinal archbishop of New York, because it appears to me he has never read the Catechism or has totally disregarded it, and I maintain that either situation is impossible to maintain for a sitting archbishop. He has brought scandal after scandal after scandal to the faithful. No such man should ever be sitting in the role of active bishop. This is just the latest [example].”
“I mean, these [pro-gay] souls, marching in this parade need spiritual help,” said Voris. “They need spiritual guidance. They need to be assisted in regard to their eternal lives. And he’s applauding them marching into Hell. He needs to go.”
In their Sept. 5 "Open Letter to Cardinal Dolan," the Catholic Citizens of Illinois said, “We understand your deference to those who are on the planning committee for the parade and your efforts to not be ‘judgmental.’ However, we ask you to put aside those concerns, knowing that your primary duty as Cardinal is to act as a ‘Shepherd of the Faithful,’ secondary in authority to that of the Pope.”
“We write this letter to you as faithful Catholics and we look to you to give the example of what a true Shepherd must be,” said the Catholic Citizens of Illinois. “We offer our prayers that the Holy Spirit will inspire you and guide you in this important decision.”
CNSNews.com sent questions to Cardinal Dolan by e-mail on two occasions, asking his office for a response about the parade controversy, but the archdiocese did not respond before this story was posted.
In 1993, then-Cardinal John O'Connor explained his opposition to allowing a gay-identified group from marching in the parade, saying, "Irish Catholics have been persecuted for the sole reason that they have refused to compromise Church teaching. What others may call bigotry, Irish Catholics call principle."