A massive showdown is brewing for today’s South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with defiant conservative Catholic groups lining up on one side and gay rights advocates and members of the state’s political establishment on the other.
Two Catholic organizations that planned to march in the parade, Harvard’s Immaculate Heart of Mary School and the state council of the Knights of Columbus, have announced that they will not be participating in the wake of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council’s groundbreaking decision to include two gay pride groups in this year’s parade.
“We don’t believe that any Catholic organization should be part of a parade that is promoting a homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage and that is their agenda,” Immaculate Heart of Mary School principal Brother Thomas Dalton told the Herald. “They want to get people used to that and acceptant of that ... and they’re trying to get the cloak of the Catholic Church to cover them and the Church just isn’t going to do that.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle is urging other Catholic groups to boycott today as well.
“St. Patrick was not a figure of mythology. He was a Catholic bishop and is a Catholic saint, and he was not a proponent of gay rights,” Doyle said, slamming the inclusion of OUTVETS — a group of openly gay veterans — and gay pride organization Boston Pride in this year’s 114th annual parade for the first time. “Call it the Evacuation Day Parade. Call it the South Boston Irish Pride Festival. Call it whatever you want — but don’t debase the name of St. Patrick by associating it with the tawdry circus that will take place on Broadway tomorrow.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who made headlines last year when he refused to march in the parade because organizers wouldn’t allow gay marchers, touted this year’s “inclusive parade” — and shrugged off the boycotters.
“If they don’t want to march, they don’t have to march, the parade is going to go on,” Walsh said. “I’m very happy about the fact that it’s an inclusive parade. It’s been a battle for 20-plus years for the gay community to march in the parade. ... It’s 2015, it should be a positive message.”
The parade was the subject of a Supreme Court case that decades ago gave the council the right to exclude marchers who displayed gay rights banners. This year is the first they will be included.
“This year the message is inclusivity, and that’s been great to see,” Maura Healey — the state’s first openly gay attorney general — said yesterday. “I do hope that people embrace this as a real sign of progress, a sign of inclusivity, a sign of we’re all equal in this, and that’s what this really is about.”
“I’m honored and thrilled to be able to march in the parade,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “I think the organizers made some changes that made it more inclusive, and we made our decision to march and we’re looking forward to marching.”
Noting that they “deeply regret that some have decided to use this occasion to further the narrow objectives of special interests,” the Knights of Columbus announced Friday they were backing out of the parade.
Yesterday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, after celebrating Mass, Father Kevin O’Leary told the Herald the church will observe St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, and noted the archdiocese isn’t affiliated with the parade.
The die is cast and the genie is out of the bottle. Shamefully, decades of effort to prevent groups who seek to promote their sexual preferences rather than their Irish heritage from participation in parades intended to honor St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and the cities of Boston and New York have come to an end. Despite favorable decisions in several courts including the U.S. Supreme Court, relentless, militant, alternative lifestyle groups and self serving politicians who pander to them because of their proactive attitude toward politics and their strong voting record have come out (excuse the pun) on top. They have gotten their foot in the door and, rest assured, they will return in succeeding years in ever increasing numbers. Sadly, many of the offending politicians claim to be Catholic and should be aware that the homosexual lifestyle is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Maybe it is time to remove all references to St. Patrick from these parades and convert them to secular events with no association to religion or religious figures.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree