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NEW YORK, September 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—A Catholic parish is promoting a pro-homosexual “Pilgrimage of Mercy” and not planning on denying its participants Holy Communion when they attend Mass as part of the pro-LGBT event in October. The parish is also hosting a speaker from the nation’s leading homosexual lobby group, the Human Rights Campaign, today. The Archdiocese of New York declined to comment on both events.

The “Pilgrimage of Mercy” event is organized by a group of gay and lesbian University of Notre Dame alumni whose idea for the “pilgrimage” was “inspired by Pope Francis.” A walk around Central Park and rally will culminate with the group attending Mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, which is run by the Paulist Fathers. Pastor Father Gilbert Martinez confirmed to LifeSiteNews that the participants will be allowed to receive Holy Communion if they wish.

The pre-Mass rally will feature an Obergefell v. Hodges plaintiff, an openly homosexual priest who was recently barred from ministry by his archbishop, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, and a Notre Dame alumnus who was also an Obergefell plaintiff and is “married” to another man.

The alumni group sponsoring the “pilgrimage” is the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA-ND/SMC).

“My only comment would be that the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle welcomes all people to all of the Masses,” Paulist Father Gilbert Martinez, the pastor of St. Paul’s, told LifeSiteNews on September 21 via email. “The fact that some people may attend an issue-oriented event before attending Mass does not change that welcome.”

“In this particular case, it is not correct to say the 12:30 p.m. Mass on Sunday, October 2, at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle is being ‘co-opted,’” he continued. “In the online details about this event, the Mass time is provided for informational purposes. No group is speaking at the Mass, but may be attending mass. In regard to the receipt of Holy Communion by all those at this particular Mass, that matter lies with the conscience of each person receiving the sacrament.  The Church's guidelines for receiving Holy Communion are listed in the missalettes provided at the Church.”

On September 22, the parish sent out a mass email advertising the LGBT event.

“Join us on Sunday, October 2 for a pilgrimage to celebrate and recognize LGBT faithful Catholics in the United States during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy,” the announcement to the parish email list said. “The pilgrimage begins on the Upper East Side at 69th St and 5th Ave, proceeds through Central Park, and ends at St. Paul's in time for the 12:30PM mass. This event is organized by the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary's College.”

The same email invited “all” to attend “a reception with ‘After Obergefell’ Conference participants and viewing of the Opening Art exhibit, ‘Beauty’ in the Church.” Parishioners and attendees can “meet Lizabeth Melendez Rivera, the Director of Latino/a and Catholic initiatives for the Human Rights Campaign, Margie Winters of Stand With Margie, and other guests. This will be a great chance for OSP folks to meet and spend time with leaders who are doing their best to amplify LGBT rights in the Catholic community!”

An online copy of the St. Paul the Apostle parish bulletin for September 25 also advertises the October 2 “pilgrimage” which will “celebrate and recognize LGBT faithful Catholics in the United States during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.”

Parish has a history of pro-gay advocacy

“There could be no better time than this Extraordinary Jubilee Year — only the third in Catholic history — for The University of Notre Dame and the Catholic bishops around the US to join in a show of mercy and compassion for LGBT Catholics, who continue to be marginalized,” GALA-ND/SMC wrote on its website promoting the pilgrimage event. “The University of Notre Dame, through the leadership of Fr. Ted Hesburgh CSC, has had a long history of leadership in supporting civil and human rights.  We ask that they demonstrate that same type of leadership now when it comes to welcoming LGBT Catholics into their community and be more inclusive of LGBT students and alumni.”

David Swinarski, a 2001 Notre Dame graduate and board member of St. Paul’s “gay & lesbian ministry” Out at St. Paul, will also speak at the rally. The Paulist parish advertises the group as its gay and lesbian ministry “which seeks to engage our Catholic faith through service to our community, social activities and the exploration of Catholic spirituality.”

According to St. Paul’s website, the group works to “enrich the spiritual and intellectual needs of G&L [gay and lesbian] Catholics,” “build a positive community spirit and provide a safe and nurturing environment for G&L parishioners at St. Paul’s,” and “leverage the talents of G&L parishioners to focus on needs within the G&L community in NY.”

Out at St. Paul’s organizational website indicates that the group has attended “Pride Masses” and a Mass at St. Paul’s to “pray for the intentions of the LGBT community.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.” It adds, “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity” (CCC 2357).

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons says Catholics have a “duty” to oppose same-sex “marriage”:

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

Regarding the reception of Holy Communion, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion” (CCC 1385). Canon 916 of the Code of Canon Law also instructs Catholics not to present themselves for Holy Communion if they are in a state of mortal sin.

During the early 2000s, many U.S. bishops instructed priests to deny Holy Communion to gay activists who wore rainbow sashes at Mass to make a political statement.

“Since this issue is at the parish level, we will not be responding separately,” Paul Snatchko, manager of marketing and communications for the Paulist order, told LifeSiteNews in an email.

“We will not be making a statement at this time,” Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, told LifeSiteNews in an email.

A number of groups that openly advocate against Catholic teaching on human sexuality, including the Human Rights Campaign, Dignity USA, GLAAD, and New Ways Ministry are listed as sponsors of the “Pilgrimage of Mercy.”

Following the “pilgrimage,” GALA-ND/SMC will host a fundraiser for its LGBT Student Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to students who advocate for the LGBT cause at Notre Dame and St. Mary’s.