- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2014

The leader of the Catholic League said Thursday his group will not march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City due to a broken promise involving other marchers.

“They not only told me one thing and did another, they decided to include a gay group that is neither Catholic nor Irish while stiffing pro-life Catholics,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

After 20 years of marching in New York, the Catholic League “will not do so in 2015,” he said.

The exit of the Catholic defense organization comes a week after parade organizers announced that [email protected], a gay NBC employees’ group, would march in the venerable parade under their own banner.

This week a trio of gay Irish groups said they would also apply to march.

Mr. Donohue had initially not protested the inclusion of the NBC gay group, saying a pro-life Catholic group would be admitted.

But when parade organizers began saying that no new groups would be added, Mr. Donohue said this was counter to the prior agreement he thought he had with parade organizers.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City began in 1762 and honors the fifth-century patron saint of Ireland, who is believed to have died on March 17, 461. Organizers and Catholic clerics have fought to keep the parade a Catholic and cultural heritage event that steers clear of political issues.

The Catholic League has been “the parade’s most vocal defender of its rules,” Mr. Donohue said Thursday.

“I told them that I could only support this decision” to admit a gay employees group if there was “a formal revision in the parade’s rules governing marching units,” he said. “To be specific, I asked them to pledge that a pro-life Catholic group would also be permitted.”

He said he was told the formal change was made and a pro-life group would march, but learned later that the list of marching units was “set” without a pro-life group.

“Accordingly, I have decided to withdraw our participation,” he said.

A spokesman for the parade committee was not immediately available, but it issued a brief response saying the news was “disappointing” and the Catholic League “is always welcome in the parade.”

On Tuesday, leaders of Irish Queers, Lavender and Green Alliance and St. Pat’s for All held a press conference to say they were applying to march in 2015.

Meanwhile, some Catholic writers decried the announcement that Cardinal Timothy Dolan would be grand marshal of the parade.

There is only one photograph people will want in 2015, wrote Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org: The “contingent from [email protected] marching past the reviewing stand at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, under the benign smile of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.”

The parade has long been pressed to admit gay groups. Major sponsors, including Guinness Brewery and Heineken, have withdrawn their support for the parade over its “policy of exclusion.” Some New York politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, have also declined to march.

Irish Voice, which first announced the parade’s agreement with [email protected], said that deal was struck to prevent NBC from ceasing its broadcast of the parade.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide