By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 September, 2014
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the US has said it is withdrawing from New York’s St Patrick’s Day parade over the decision to allow a LGBT group to participate for the first time next March.
Spokesperson for the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, said the group, which has marched in New York City’s St Patrick’s Day Parade for 20 years, will not do so in 2015.
Donohue expressed disillusionment with the parade organisers who had told him that they would change the rules for inclusion in the parade, allowing for homosexual activists but also allowing pro-life groups to march under their own banners.
However, he discovered that there will be no pro-life groups allowed in the 2015 parade.
He underlined that his withdrawal should not be interpreted as a sign of opposition to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who has accepted the gay group’s involvement in the parade.
Stating that he had no quarrel with Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, who has been selected as the parade’s Grand Marshal for 2015, Donohue stated, “Cardinal Dolan has no more rabid supporter than Bill Donohue, and nothing that has transpired recently changes anything.”
Bill Donohue revealed that prior to the announcement that a gay group would march under its own banner in the 2015 parade, he was consulted by parade organisers about their plans.
“I told them that I could only support this decision if there were a formal revision in the parade’s rules governing marching units. I asked them to pledge that a pro-life Catholic group would also be permitted. I was told that a formal change in the rules had been approved and that a pro-life group would march.
“Now I am being told that the list of marching units is set and that no pro-life group will march in next year’s parade. Accordingly, I have decided to withdraw our participation,” he stated.
According to Bill Donohue, he has, for the past two decades, 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,” he explained.
He warned that attempts would now be made to pit him against Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Grand Marshal of the 2015 parade. “The suggestion that I am at odds with the New York Archbishop is not only false, it is despicable,” he lashed out.
“My reasons for withdrawing from the parade have nothing to do with Cardinal Dolan or with gays. It has to do with being betrayed by the parade committee.”
“They not only told me one thing, and did another, they decided to include a gay group that is neither Catholic nor Irish while stiffling pro-life Catholics. This is as stunning as it is indefensible.”
When Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York visited Mullingar last weekend for the 75th anniversary of the Cathedral of Christ the King, he told CatholicIreland.net that he backed the decision by the organisers of New York’s St Patrick’s Day parade to allow one LGBT group to participate for the first next March.
The Cardinal said he trusted the decision to shift the sole criteria from Irish identity in order to allow a group representing gay staff at NBC television to part.
The Archbishop of New York indicated that he was unhappy with the idea of anybody being excluded from the St Patrick’s Day parade.
He said if he found that to be the case he would not participate.