Knights of Columbus, Maryland State Council
Stephen J. Adamczyk, State Deputy

"Be Not Afraid, Our Faith is Our Courage"

Reflections

Lawrence P. Grayson

 Transforming the St. Patrick’s Day Parades

      St. Patrick’s Day, which is a holy day of obligation for Catholics in Ireland, has been corrupted in America by homosexual activists who flaunt their opposition to Catholic doctrine. Celebratory parades have been coopted for dissident political purposes.

     Since the seventh century, St. Patrick has been revered as the patron saint of Ireland. His feast day was officially placed on the universal liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church in the early 1600s, thus, liturgically commemorating the saint and his role in converting Ireland to Christianity.

     In America, his feast day was celebrated even before this country became a separate nation. The Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized the first observance of St. Patrick's Day in the thirteen colonies in 1737, while Irish soldiers serving in the British army staged the first recorded parade in his honor in New York City in 1762.

     With the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States beginning in the mid-19th century, the observance expanded throughout the country and started to gain a cultural purpose celebrating a common Irish immigrant experience in America. The various parades, however, retained a strong religious aspect as the vast majority of Irish-Americans were Catholic.

     With the growing secularization of America, the weakening of adherence to Church teaching, and a growing belligerence on the part of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups, there were increasing demands and pressures on parade organizers to admit these groups to march and proclaim their sexual orientation in direct opposition to what Catholicism stands for.

     Homosexuals have marched in the parades for many years, but have done so as members of organizations that promote Irish heritage. This year, after decades of opposition, gay and lesbian groups marched under their own rainbow banners in the St. Patrick's Day parades in Boston, Washington, DC, and New York, while Catholic moral teaching was ignored in Norfolk, Virginia.

    In Washington, some 40 members of a contingent from the DC Center for the LGBT Community marched down Constitution Avenue, accompanied by a car adorned with rainbow flags and shamrocks.

     In Massachusetts, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, a private group that organizes the 114-year-old parade, had consistently banned gay groups from participating, holding that homosexuality conflicts with Catholic doctrine. Their position had been confirmed when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 1995 that the group had a First Amendment right to exclude whomever it wanted. The organizers, however, came under intense pressure to change their position, which ran counter to the liberal attitudes that prevail in Massachusetts; in 2004 the state became the first in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Two LGBT rights groups, Boston Pride and OutVets, joined in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year.

     The organizers of the New York parade, the city’s 254th annual march up 5th Avenue, also buckled under external pressure. NBCUniversal, which has broadcast the parade for many years, threatened to drop its coverage unless a gay group was included. The organizers allowed OUT@NBCUniversal, the company’s employee group of homosexuals, to march under its own banner. Thus, the committee retained the broadcast network and had the brewers Guinness and Heineken, which boycotted the event last year, return as sponsors. Wanting to “keep 2015 focused on the gesture of goodwill we made towards the gay community,” the parade committee further denied the request of Children First Foundation, a pro-life organization, to march.

     Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and this year’s grand marshal, said he thought “the decision is a wise one.” This contrasts with the position of his predecessor, Cardinal John O'Connor, who in 1993, while avowing his love and prayers for homosexuals, stated that he "could never even be perceived as compromising Catholic teaching" by entertaining their admission as an identifiable group in the parade. At the Cardinal's Mass before the 1993 parade, the faithful sang the hymn "Hail, Glorious St. Patrick," intoning, "In a war against sin, in the fight for the faith, Dear Saint, may thy children resist to the death." No such hymn was sung this year.

     In Norfolk, Virginia, the parade which began in 1968, has been organized annually by a local Knights of Columbus council and usually includes a large number of Catholic organizations. While no gay group marched, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a self-proclaimed Catholic, who is an advocate for abortion and homosexual marriage, was invited to serve as grand marshal.

     The reaction of Catholic groups dismayed by the developments was consistent. In Boston, the Immaculate Heart of Mary School, which annually sends its classic float of St. Patrick and its 40-member-band, pulled out. The school’s principal Brother Thomas Dalton stated, “We don’t believe that any Catholic organization should be part of a parade that is promoting a homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage.” In addition, the Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus, which had announced its intention to participate, withdrew.

     In New York, the decision prompted the Catholic League and at least one Catholic school to decline to march. And in Norfolk, Holy Trinity Parish cut its ties to the organizing council, while the Ancient Order of Hibernians and about six Catholic schools withdrew from the parade. The state’s two bishops, Francis DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese and Paul Loverde of Arlington, condemned the selection of the governor as grand marshal, stating, “It is an erroneous and serious mistake in judgment for any Catholic organization to grant awards, honors and platforms to any public person who clearly acts in defiance to Catholic teaching.”

     St. Patrick spent his adult life as a missionary in Ireland working to convert the Celtic tribes from their polytheistic beliefs and pagan practices, including sodomy, to Christianity. It is a travesty that parades bearing his name now advertise the gay lifestyle.

     In New York, Holy Innocents Church, located just blocks from the parade route, offered an alternative event. It conducted a “St. Patrick’s Day Lenten Pilgrimage,” which encompassed four Masses, the opportunity for Confession, and a prayer vigil for unborn children. The traditional religious purpose of the parades may have been impeded, but prayer and sacrifice can yet win the day.        

Vivat Jesus!

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Published April 2015

 

 
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