New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his decision to serve as grand marshal for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday, in the wake of widespread criticism from Catholics after he praised the organizing committee for allowing a homosexual activist group to march.
“If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object,” Dolan stated in his weekly column. On the contrary, he argued, “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.”
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, was not impressed with the cardinal’s argument. “This is precisely about publicizing advocacy contrary to Catholic teaching,” he said.
“As a Catholic father I find there is rapidly contracting space where this shameful agenda is not stuck in the faces of my children,” Ruse told LifeSiteNews. “The Church should be protecting our children rather than abetting those who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of innocent souls."
Pat Archbold, a popular blogger at the National Catholic Register and who runs the Creative Minority Report blog, lambasted Dolan for suggesting the embrace and promotion of “gay identity” can be separated from the sin of homosexuality.
“This identity is not a morally-neutral God-given attribute such as male or female, black or white,” he said. “The identity is with the immoral choice to engage in immoral behavior.”
“The best that can be said in this situation is that these people choose to proudly identify themselves with an intrinsic disorder. But in reality, it is worse than that,” he continued. “The people find their identity and pride in sin. Either the Cardinal knows this or he doesn't, either way Cardinal Dolan reveals himself unequal to his responsibility as a successor of the Apostles.”
The parade committee changed its longstanding policy on September 3 after decades of pressure from homosexual groups. Upon being announced as the parade’s grand marshal later the same day, Cardinal Dolan said he had no trouble with the decision at all, calling it “wise.”
The organizers had never prohibited any marchers, but did not ban issue-focused banners and signs, whether promoting homosexuality or the pro-life cause.
Cardinal Dolan stated in his column Wednesday that he did not oppose the previous policy.
“This was simply a reasonable policy about banners and public identification, not about the sexual inclinations of participants,” he explained.
“I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching,” he said as well, “but simply identifying themselves as ‘Gay people of Irish ancestry.’”
The homosexual activist group that will march is called OUT@NBCUniversal, which describes itself as the employee resource group for LGBT & Straight Ally employees at the media giant.
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The network held the broadcast contract for parade coverage. Reports indicated the contract was about to expire, and that NBC joined in pressuring on parade officials.
Cardinal Dolan conceded in his column there were many thoughtful reasons for criticizing the parade policy change, and noted that he shared some of them.
“While a handful have been less than charitable in their reactions, I must admit that many of you have rather thoughtful reasons for criticizing the committee’s decision,” he said. “You observe that the former policy was fair; you worry that this is but another example of a capitulation to an ‘aggressive Gay agenda,’ which still will not appease their demands; and you wonder if this could make people think the Church no longer has a clear teaching on the nature of human sexuality.”
However, he said, the most important question he had to ask himself was whether the new policy violated Catholic faith or morals.
In stressing that homosexual actions are sinful while identity is not, Cardinal Dolan said, “Catholic teaching is clear: ‘being Gay’ is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals.”
Making opinion paramount, the cardinal offered that the parade committee “tried to be admirably sensitive to Church teaching,” and even though the original policy was not at all unfair, the committee was “realistic in worrying that the public perception was the opposite, no matter how often they tried to explain its coherence and fairness.”
“They worried that the former policy was being interpreted as bias, exclusion, and discrimination against a group in our city,” Cardinal Dolan wrote. “Which, if true, would also be contrary to Church teaching.”
When the decision was announced and Cardinal Dolan named the parade’s grand marshal, Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called it a significant advance for homosexual activists, and a significant retreat for the Catholic Church.
Pointing out in his column that the media will be correct to concentrate on that narrative at next March’s event, Lawler identified what he said is almost certain to be the result of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“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,” Lawler wrote.
“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.”