Community Event or Activist Platform?

stpats-flyer2St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Activist Platform?

Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Still River has marched in Boston’s St. Patrick Day Parade for more than 20 years.  Brother Thomas Dalton, the school’s principal, created a stir when he announced that the band and the school-sponsored float bearing St. Patrick would withdraw from this year’s parade if  “MassEquality” activists were allowed to march.  This militantly homosexualist advocacy group claims to be an “inclusive and politically powerful movement” fighting against “discrimination and oppression.”  When the organizers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, decided not to admit to their parade an open contingent of “Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender” (LGBT) activists, the “politically powerful” and their allies launched an aggressive campaign vilifying their opponents, pressuring the Veterans,  politicians and even sponsors of the parade to get their way.  The  pressure group claimed to be shocked by the “hostility” of alleged exclusion even though the organizers offered them terms for participation in the parade (i.e. no overt messages or antics designed to shock viewers).   The activists, in fact, have indulged in their own brand of hostility, anti-Catholic “discrimination” and bullying.  Ironically MassEquality recently teamed up with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to promote anti-bullying in public schools.    

Time for a reality-check!  Let us consider a few pertinent facts.

Veterans’ Victory

    First, in 1995 the Supreme Court of the United States of America unanimously recognized and affirmed that the South Boston Allied War Veterans have the freedom to establish the criteria for participation in this parade.  The organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade enjoy the exclusive right to make their own decisions regarding the eligibility of participants without pressure from any special interest groups whatsoever.

    The purpose of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade remains to provide the people of South Boston, and others who may wish to view, enjoyable, decent family entertainment honoring the memory of the great Catholic missionary-bishop, Saint Patrick.  Given the Irish Catholic constituency of “Southie,” the parade is a natural fit.   The parade was designed as a celebration of Irish Catholic heritage, not a platform for special interest advocacy, particularly of issues that conflict with or contradict the point of the event.  

    Nevertheless, Cathy Renna, M.E. contact, alleges on their website: “MassEquality is marching toward justice, and we remain committed to full equality and inclusion for everyone in our LGBT communities.”  Has South Boston become an “LGBT community”?  And since when does “crashing a party” or forcing one’s way into a given group’s parade constitute “justice”?

    The MassEquality contingency has no legal “right” to march in a parade while disregarding the policies of the organizers.  Are the LGBT and fellow-travelers not free to establish criteria for admission to their own events?  Certainly they are. Why then should this right be denied the Veterans?

Principled Decision; Coherent Witness

    There are deeper, more fundamental issues at stake here.  Returning to Immaculate Heart of Mary School’s choice to forego participation in the same parade as the LGBT lobbyists, the decision was made on religious and cultural grounds.  The school’s principal clearly stated that IHM condones neither the homosexual lifestyle nor the homosexualist agenda.  Nor does it wish even to appear to approve homosexualist causes.  The school does not identify with the LGBT agenda.  Is such a lack of identification illegal or un-American?  Does a refusal to be drawn into showcasing a lifestyle hostile to the school’s own system of beliefs, practices, and core values constitute bigotry on the school’s part? Freedom of assembly implies the freedom to withdraw from associations that a given individual or group regards as incompatible with its own aims and policies.

Patrick: Catholic Saint and Apostle

    The empire of pagan Rome, into which St. Patrick was born in the fifth century, collapsed under the weight of its own decadence, debauchery, and hedonism. When Patrick evangelized the pagans of Eire, he shared with them the light of the Christian Gospel, the inspiration of saints and scholars who made the Emerald Isle a cradle of Christian civilization and the source of countless missionaries who succeeded in Christianizing Europe throughout the Middle Ages. The saint celebrated throughout the world on March 17 offered the attractive alternative to a culture of dark superstition and death. His gospel remains a refreshing alternative to today’s neo-pagan infatuation with pornography, promiscuity, violence, and death.

    Would Ireland’s beloved apostle and father in the faith be accused of “bigotry” today for denouncing Druid depravities? As a Catholic bishop, Patrick faced his share of religious, political and cultural opponents.  Brother Thomas and IHM School can empathize with the great saint, receiving as they did in the wake of merely “pulling out of a parade,” an onslaught of hate-filled telephone messages, rife with obscenity, profanity, and venom  from MassEquality “supporters” [read: activists and lobbyists]. Over the past several weeks the self-proclaimed victims of “hate” have themselves mastered the craft of hate speech.  

The Catholic Church and Homosexuality

    Neither IHM School nor the Catholic Church hate homosexuals.  On the contrary, the Church, without compromising her teaching on the intrinsic disorders of homosexuality is one of the most generous and active providers of medical, pastoral, and spiritual help to those afflicted with HIV and AIDS.  The Church hates the sin but loves the sinner.  This is just what most LGBT activists refuse to hear.  Furthermore, they deny that the Church has the duty to uphold the teaching on human sexuality revealed in Holy Scripture, and maintained consistently by Church tradition for two millennia. The Catholic Church welcomes individuals with homosexual tendencies, offers them counseling, and most importantly, provides them with the sacraments of healing and the strength to fight temptation to sin. IHM School strives to bear a coherent witness to the Faith.
    “Southie’s”  St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrates Irish Catholic heritage in a climate of joy and decency.  Those who support such qualities are always welcome to join the event.