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Catholic League President Opts Out of NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

Catholic League President Opts Out of NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

Catholic League President Bill Donahue–a frequent, high-volume television commentator on Church topics–appears to have taken the position that New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has virtually nothing to do with St. Patrick, being Irish, or being Catholic. But it does have a lot to do with how activist groups can pressure corporations into bending the rules for them.

With behind-the-scenes support from NBC, whose affiliate broadcasts the parade locally, a group representing LGBT NBC Universal employees (a group which has neither specifically Irish nor Catholic ties) is being allowed to march in the parade under its own banner.

Donahue claims he previously understood that parade rules didn’t allow groups with their own agendas to march under a separate banner, and that regulation, in his view, also explained the exclusion of specifically pro-life groups. But Donahue contended that the inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal demonstrated a new policy, although no formal alteration in the rules was announced.

So Donahue demanded that, in light of this development, a pro-life Catholic group should be allowed to march under its own banner in a parade supposedly honoring a saint of the Catholic Church, which is adamantly against abortion.

In an interview at the time with SiriusXM Progress, reported at the Huffington Post, Donahue said, “My support for the rule change is that they’ve made a formal rule change. Now, I must tell you, in all honesty, I have not seen the written statement on the rule change yet. So, my support is conditioned on allowing pro-life Catholics to march under their banner, just as the gay group can.”

When told that the roster of groups was already “settled,” and that the pro-life group could not apply to be included, Donahue decided to opt out.

In a statement, he said, “The goal of some in the Irish community is to neuter the Catholic element in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They want it to be an ethnic celebration. But as I have said, we are not the Irish League; we are the Catholic League. Indeed, our full name is the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.”

Essentially, it looks like Donahue went along with the inclusion of the corporate-sponsored LGBT group in hopes that he could leverage that to get a pro-life group into the parade, but the plan backfired on him. So for the first time in 20 years, the Catholic League is sitting out a parade held on the feast day of Catholic Ireland’s patron saint.

But Donahue went to great lengths in his statement to declare his eternal friendship with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who, as of right now, is still scheduled to be Grand Marshal of this very un-Catholic march. Instead, Donahue is miffed at the parade organizers for playing favorites.

Donahue’s statement said, “My reasons for withdrawing from the parade have nothing to do with Cardinal Dolan or with gays. It has to do with being betrayed by the parade committee.” He added, “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. This is as stunning as it is indefensible.”

It remains to be seen if Dolan will follow Donahue’s lead and recuse himself from the parade, as there is pressure on him from some in his flock to do just that.

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