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Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaks at the World Meeting of Families

PHILADELPHIA, September 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Philadelphia’s mayor used a platform given to him in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims at the World Meeting of Families to promote the “rights” of homosexuals.

“In America, everyone has rights,” said Mayor Michael Nutter at Independence Hall before the pope’s September 26 address. “Our lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens continue to fight for equality,” he added.

Nutter urged same-sex attracted persons in the audience to continue fighting, hinting that the Catholic Church under Pope Francis was aiding them in the effort.

“Keep fighting for your rights,” he said. “It's a collective fight. And there are many others fighting with you.”

The mayor served as honorary co-chair for the World Meeting of Families, by invitation of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, despite his well-known history as a LGBT activist and strong proponent of gay “marriage.” Nutter, who says he is Catholic, has even officiated at a gay “wedding.”

Earlier this year Nutter, who is a Democrat, boasted that the city, under his leadership, “has enacted the strongest civil rights law and protections for LGBT citizens of any city in the country and was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign in 2014 as the number one city for LGBT equality.”

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput decided to keep Nutter’s Saturday speaking engagement despite various Catholic groups having beforehand raised serious concerns about the mayor’s credentials as a faithful Catholic.

One of the groups, Church Militant, even highlighted to the archdiocese Nutter’s plan to — in the mayor’s own words — “advance these [LGBT] issues on an international stage” at the event, but to no avail.

“Nutter has made clear his plans to take advantage of his position of prominence, both as Philadelphia mayor and as honorary co-chair of the World Meeting of Families, to advance the gay agenda when the Pope visits — and the faithful are left wondering why Chaput continues to refuse to do anything to remedy this,” Church Militant’s Christine Niles wrote September 22.

Another group, the Lepanto Institute, made great efforts in August to communicate with the archdiocese about Nutter’s dissent from Catholic teaching on marriage, abortion, and contraception, but with no results.

“At a time when advocates for abortion, contraception, same-sex ‘marriage’ and all manner of evil are pressing their attack against the Catholic Church and the very nature of TRUE families, such advocates should not be given any honorary positions or positions of leadership in any capacity at a Catholic event; especially one focused on upholding the very things that these individuals and their corporations are seeking to destroy,” Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute wrote August 25.

Instead of taking into account the Institute’s concerns about the mayor and others, the archdiocese issued a press release in which it accused the Lepanto Institute of acting “with the sole intention” of creating “division, confusion, and conflict within the Church,” adding that its “reports are not to be taken seriously.”

LifeSiteNews contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and asked Archbishop Chaput for comment on the mayor’s speech, but Director of Communications Keneth Gavin responded: “The Archbishop will not be able to participate in this interview.”

Hichborn told LifeSiteNews that Mayor Nutter used the platform given to him by the archdiocese and his honorable position “as I feared would happen,” namely to “call upon the homosexual community to continue their fight for ‘rights and equality.’”

“In speaking to a Catholic audience, he was in effect calling Catholics to abandon their faith and embrace the homosexual revolution,” he said. “Nutter should never have been given honors or a platform to speak.”

Hichborn called the archdiocese’s involvement with Nutter a “symptom of a much larger problem.”

“When I tried to warn the Archdiocese about Nutter and others, the Archdiocese told the Catholic world that my ‘reports are not to be taken seriously.’  Even if they didn’t want to concern themselves with my reports, they could have heeded Nutter’s publicly stated intentions, but they chose to ignore that as well.”

“For the last couple of decades, bishops have placed a lot of stock in the wealthy, the powerful, and in politicians. The net result is that while millions of dollars are poured into major events such as the World Meeting of Families, the mission of the Church has been watered down. Emphasis has shifted from the Kingdom of God to the City of man. And, in the process, souls are being led astray and lost,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia was not the only diocese to be criticized for the people it selected to make a public presentation at an event involving the pope. The Archdiocese of New York under Cardinal Dolan received criticism from faithful Catholics after appointing well-known homosexual advocate Mo Rocca as lector during Pope Francis' Mass in Madison Square Garden on September 25.

When news of Rocca’s official role as lector at a Mass with the pope hit social media, many saw this as a sign of the way leadership is pushing the Church to accept homosexuality and gay “marriage.”

“That was Mo Cocca participating in the Pope’s Mass. How many people realize what a huge statement that is? aka he is GAY,” wrote one commenter on Twitter.

“Seriously, what an amazing statement that the Pope has openly gay Mo Rocca give the first reading. A not-subtle message. Bravo,” wrote another.

Matthew Pearson of Church Militant saw the choice of Rocca as problematic.

“Many questions and frustrations still remain as to why, out of all the Catholics in New York City, a famous, open homosexual was chosen,” he wrote in a report.

“Whatever the truth of the matter may be, Rocca was not picked because he's a Spanish-speaking Catholic born of Colombian and Italian descent. He was chosen because of his open homosexuality and his support of gay ‘marriage’ by revolutionaries within the archdiocese trying to push change to Church teaching. And Cdl. Dolan, as head of the archdiocese, is responsible for giving final approval,” he said.