The New York Daily News is reporting that the decision was made to allow OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT support group at NBC, which broadcasts the parade, to march under its own banner next year.
Traditionally, homosexuals have always been permitted to march in the parade, but they were never allowed to do so under their own banner like other groups.
The parade committee said in a statement that its “change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.” The statement added that the parade was “remaining loyal to church teachings,” which oppose gay relationships.
New York City's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will serve as next year's Grand Marshall of the parade, issued a statement in support of the decision.
“The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee continues to have my confidence and support. 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," the Cardinal said.
"My predecessors and I have always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades. As I do each year, I look forward to celebrating Mass in honor of Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and the Patron Saint of this Archdiocese, to begin the feast, and pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us.”
The move came after gay activists pressured sponsors of the parade to back out unless gays were permitted to march in the largely Catholic event. Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to attend, along with many city council members. Guinness, Sam Adams and Heineken also withdrew their sponsorship of the parade unless gays were allowed to march.
Mayor de Blasio called the decision "progress", saying that he has long called for an "inclusive parade."
Not all gay activists were thrilled with the decision because they feel it didn't go far enough by only allowing one group to march next year.
Nathan Schaefer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said the committee’s decision “strikes us as disappointing and self-serving.”
“We call on them to take a bolder stand for inclusion by welcoming other groups that truly represent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Irish-Americans to march in 2015,” he said.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League points out that homosexuals have never been barred from marching in the parade anymore than pro-life Catholics have, but in both cases they were not permitted to carry their own banners.
"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," Donohue said in a statement. "That being the case, there should be no controversy. One would hope that all the new entries will conduct themselves in a manner that honors St. Patrick, lest another round of controversy emerges."
However, Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington thinks the parade ought to be cancelled altogether.
" . . . (N)ow we are being asked to raise toasts and to enjoy a night of frivolity with those who think it is acceptable to abort children by the millions each year, with those who think anal sex is to be celebrated as an expression of love and that LGBTQIA… (I=intersexual, A= Asexual) is actually a form of sanity to which we should tip our hat, and with those who stand four-square against us over religious liberty," he writes on his popular blog.
Besides, he writes, let's be honest and admit that St. Patrick's Day has become "a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it. In New York City in particular, the 'parade' is devolving into a farcical and hateful ridicule of the faith that St. Patrick preached."
What should be done about it? The monsignor believes the time has come to cancel the event, along with "all the other 'Catholic' traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. . . . "
"Enough now, back to Church!" he says. "Wear the purple of Lent and if there is going to be a procession, let it be Eucharistic and penitential for the sins of this age."
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