Pro-Life Groups Banned From St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Gay Rights Groups Welcomed

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 17, 2016   |   12:31PM   |   Washington, DC

Organizers of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade have stopped two pro-life groups from participating in the traditionally Catholic celebration, while allowing two groups that oppose Catholic teachings to participate.

Parade committee chairman John Lahey reportedly has boasted about the 2016 parade being the “most inclusive” yet, but that “inclusion” appears only to apply to the groups that Lahey and his committee agree with politically.

The  parade committee has banned pro-life groups for decades and “their exclusion has been used as the primary ‘justification’ for also keeping LGBT organizations out.” This year, however, at least two gay rights groups were approved to participate in the parade, while pro-life groups appear to still be shut out, according to the report.

The National Catholic Register reports what happened last year with pro-life groups:

Elizabeth Rex, president and co-founder of the Children First Foundation, a New York-based charitable organization that promotes adoption as a pro-life option for women in crisis pregnancies, applied to march last year, but the parade committee rejected her application on grounds that a “right-to-life group” had already been chosen to march. No overtly pro-life group actually marched last year.

“We were double-crossed,” Rex told the Register. “I would never apply again because I fear they could then actually use our entrance to allow pro-abortion groups to march. It’s going to be the end of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which it already is.”

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Meanwhile, Dawn Eskew, founder of Personhood Education New York, a pro-life organization that welcomes people of different faith backgrounds to build a culture of life, told the Register that the parade committee never returned her phone calls and emails seeking information about applying to march.

“What bothers me is that they never responded,” said Eskew, whose colleagues told her the parade committee probably considered her group to be “too political.” But then she read about the parade’s board of directors welcoming a second homosexual group to march in the parade.

“‘Gee,’ I thought. ‘That’s pretty political,’” Eskew said.

The exclusion of pro-lifers is especially startling given that Ireland, the country of which St. Patrick is the patron saint of, is a strongly pro-life, Catholic nation.

On his blog this week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, lamented how the parade committee has watered down the traditionally Catholic holiday with secularism.

“It’s not just the Irish parade. We march to honor St. Patrick. That is why so many cringe at and resist pleas to weaken the Catholic origins of the parade,” Dolan wrote. “It would be particularly somber if the forces of secularism were able to do what centuries of oppressive rule were unable to do: erase the faith from Irish identity.”

A peaceful, prayerful rally of Catholics in opposition to the parade’s secularism is scheduled for noon today on the west side of 5th Avenue between 65th and 66th streets. Their goal is to unite Catholics who want to defend their faith and fight for the right to speak and practice the faith, according to the Christian Newswire.