New York’s Catholic Church has new rules that require it to remove gay pride events from the calendar
NEW YORK — The New York Catholic Church on Friday imposed new rules requiring it to pull out of participating in gay pride parades, including a weekend of events in Manhattan’s Central Park, following a backlash from members.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and his senior religious leaders met with gay rights activists Friday to discuss how to respond to the fallout from the recent ordination of gay bishops, a move that drew ire from members and prompted criticism from some religious leaders.
“The bishops’ ordination was a deeply personal decision and one we regret,” the archbishop said in a statement.
“Our hope is that it will not be used as a stepping stone for others to make similar decisions, and that in the future we can be as welcoming to everyone as possible.
We also will work with all other dioceses in the country to continue our work to build bridges of trust and respect, and to develop an inclusive, respectful and safe environment for all.”
The archbishop added: “We also recognize the importance of celebrating the gay community, particularly those who have experienced homophobia.”
The bishops decision to pull their annual Pride festivities was the first major step by the church in the last few years toward ending its involvement with the events, a controversial policy that some observers said has hurt religious leaders’ efforts to reach out to gay and lesbian people.
In New York, which has one of the largest Catholic populations in the United States, a handful of other Catholic parishes, including the diocese of Buffalo and the diocesan headquarters in Brooklyn, have announced plans to withdraw their participation from gay pride, including in March.
The city’s bishops are also weighing whether to withdraw from the National Catholic Reporter, a publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, which is run by the archdiocese.
Many religious leaders say the move will encourage other parishes to join the bishops’ decision to remove their support for gay pride.
“There’s a real concern that it could encourage other diocesees to do the same,” said John Corbett, the president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that has opposed efforts by the Catholic church to pull its support for same-sex marriage.
“We’re certainly not going to do that, but we’re certainly going to try to do something to try and encourage other religious institutions to come to a similar conclusion.”
The bishops announced Friday that they would hold a public meeting to discuss the issue and have a plan for how to move forward.
They will also hold a series of events with representatives of gay and transgender communities to explain their views, including an event on Saturday with representatives from Stonewall, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, who have historically been allies of the church.
The diocese has also said that it is working with the United Nations on an international coalition against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
After the announcement, gay rights groups condemned the move and expressed their outrage over the archbishops’ move.
They said the church should be more than the organization of religious leaders, who should be representing the public, not the people.
“This is a sad day for gay people and the LGBT community,” said Michael Weinstein, president of New York City-based Human Rights Campaign.
“The Catholic Church must respect its community’s religious and moral beliefs, and not impose its religious and ideological views on anyone.
For a church that is known for its strong moral teachings and deep commitment to the poor, this decision is appalling.
While many in the gay rights community are still celebrating the bishops decision, others have already taken to social media to express their outrage and frustration.
Some Catholics in New York are planning to attend a prayer vigil in support of the archiocese and the community’s reaction to the news.