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Cardinal Dolan Tries to Quell St. Pat’s Brouhaha

Jeffrey Bruno

Mark Stricherz - published on 09/18/14 - updated on 06/07/17

New York Parade's Grand Marshal Downplays Presence of Gay Group

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said marching with an openly gay group is not enough to prevent him from serving as grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In an open letter on Wednesday, the archbishop of New York sidestepped the question of whether a group that declares itself as gay is suggesting that its members participate in homosexual acts. Instead, Cardinal Dolan said publicizing one’s identity differs from acting on the identity:

Catholic teaching is clear: “being Gay” is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals. Homosexual actions are—as are any sexual relations outside of the lifelong, faithful, loving, life-giving bond of a man and woman in marriage—a moral teaching grounded in the Bible, reflected in nature, and faithfully taught by the Church.

So, while actions are immoral, identity is not! In fact, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, people with same-sex attraction are God’s children, deserving dignity and respect, never to be treated with discrimination or injustice.

To the point: the committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture. I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching, but simply identifying themselves as “Gay people of Irish ancestry.”

If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object.

Out@NBC Universal has said it has received permission to march in the parade next year. On its Twitter page, the organization describes itself as “the employee resource group of LGBT and Straight Ally employees of NBC Universal.”

The Catholic News Agency noted that Cardinal Dolan’s position differs from that of the legendary Cardinal John O’Connor and a major Catholic activist in New York:

Supporters of the previous policy included past New York archbishop Cardinal John O’Connor, who died in 2000. The parade committee previously defended the parade against lawsuits aimed to force it to approve LGBT groups’ applications.

In a statement much quoted in the media controversy over the new parade policy, Cardinal O’Connor in 1993 said that he “could never even be perceived as compromising Catholic teaching” by allowing the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization to march in the parade as an identifiable group.

Cardinal O’Connor was grand marshal in 1996. The CNA report continued:

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, had long supported the parade’s previous policy. He said he had backed a policy change on the understanding that a pro-life Catholic group would also be allowed to march.

However, he later withdrew the Catholic League’s small contingent, after it became clear that Catholic pro-life group was not in the final list of contingents in the 2015 parade. He said his choice was not due to the presence of the LGBT advocacy group. Rather, he charged that the parade leadership had not fulfilled a promise to include the pro-life group.

Donohue said in his statement:

For the past two decades I have been the parade’s most vocal defender of its rules. Repeatedly, I have said that gays have no more been banned from marching than pro-life Catholics have: members of both groups can march with other units; they simply can’t march under their own banner. Why? Because the parade is not about gays or abortion, or anything other than St. Patrick.

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