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Cardinal Timothy Dolan.Steve Jalsevac /

History is repeating itself in New York but with very different outcomes.  Back in 1993 large sponsors threatened to pull out of the St. Patrick’s Day parade if homosexual activists were not permitted to march with their banners.  Then Cardinal John O’Connor would not permit it.  But today, amidst the same threats, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has acquiesced.

Homosexual activist group OUT@NBCUniversal is scheduled to march in the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade next March 17 with a banner identifying itself, according to a September 3 statement shared by parade organizers with LifeSiteNews.


Cardinal Dolan was officially named the 2015 parade’s grand marshal at a reception at the New York Athletic Club later the same day.

“I have no trouble with the decision at all,” Cardinal Dolan said at an evening news conference announcing his appointment as grand marshal. “I think the decision is a wise one.”

The Archdiocese did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment on the parade committee’s decision and Cardinal Dolan’s choice to remain grand marshal of the parade.

However the archdiocese published a statement by Cardinal Dolan September 3 on its website:

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.  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.

Cardinal O’Connor, when confronted during the 1993 parade by homosexual activists holding a sit-in, said, according to the New York Times, that he “could never even be perceived as compromising Catholic teaching” by allowing them to march under a homosexual banner.

The Times reported: “The Hibernians and Cardinal O'Connor have said there is no place for a gay contingent in the parade because it is a Catholic event and the church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful.”

At his Mass on St. Patrick’s Day that year, the cardinal said, “Neither respectability nor political correctness is worth one comma in the Apostles’ Creed.”

Reaction to Cardinal Dolan’s decision has come from many lay Catholics concerned for the faith and also for the confusing message being conveyed.

National Catholic Register columnist Pat Archbold called the decision and the cardinal’s participation an endorsement of the gay identity.

“It is a shameful and sinful capitulation by the parade organizers and Cardinal Dolan,” Archbold wrote.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called for the Archdiocese of New York to sever ties with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“You don’t honor a saint by encouraging a sin,” Lawler said in his column. “If this really is a Catholic event, it cannot include a group defined by its opposition to Church teaching. If it is a Catholic event, forget Guinness, forget NBC, forget the hoopla, and quietly honor St. Patrick.”

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Similar criticisms of Cardinal Dolan errupted in March of this year when he offered public congratulations to college football player Michael Sam after his announcement that he is homosexual.

Asked about Sam’s decision, Dolan said: “Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ‘ya. The same Bible that teaches about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people,” he added. “So I would say, ‘Bravo.'”

The Archdiocese of New York told LifeSiteNews at the time that this did not mean the cardinal was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexuality.

The Catholic Church officially teaches that homosexual acts are gravely sinful and that such sins endanger a person’s eternal life.

Homosexual activists first tried to march with banners positively identifying homosexuality in 1990. Over the years they have staged protests claiming the parade is not inclusive. Most recently, in 2014, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio boycotted the event, and sponsors Guinness and Heineken withdrew as parade sponsors.

Parade organizers are reported to have been pressured by employees of NBCUniversal, which broadcasts the parade, to show it is more inclusive.

The committee says the decision to allow the homosexual group from NBC was an effort to address the issue and move forward. “This 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 as it moves into its 253rd year, all the while remaining loyal to church teachings and the principles that have guided the parade committee for so many decades,” it said.