The above video is from the 2012 Saint Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston. It shows the famous float of Saint Patrick, followed by the Immaculate Heart of Mary School Band followed by a tank.
This year, as usual, the parade was surrounded by controversy. The issue: should gays march in the parade as an organized unit and openly acknowledge their sexual orientation with banners, signs, t-shirts, etc.? It was a little more heated than usual, because we have a new mayor in Boston and he tried to broker a deal between Mass Equality (a gay rights group) and the South Boston Allied War Veterans, the group which organizes the parade.
It is a complicated story, but basically, for a short time, there was an apparent agreement to allow gay veterans to march. The principal from the Catholic school featured in the above video declined to let his school participate with their band and float if the gays marched. The parade organizers said they had been misled by Mass Equality and cancelled the deal. The gays did not march. As usual, almost all politicians, including the mayor, boycotted the parade, and this year, the Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams), declined to participate in the parade and took the side of the mayor.
The War Veterans insist that the parade must reflect family values and their Faith:
“We are tough proud South Bostonians, with deep scars from controversy that dates back decades. Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of our Irish. We love our parade. This parade is a chance for all to join together and celebrate the love of friends, family, and the faith of our community.”
In 1995 the vets won a Supreme Court decision that they have the right to exclude groups from their parade. They may have won a battle but they are losing the war. In Massachusetts gay marriage has been legal for years and the Boston Archdiocese had to end its charitable adoption services as a result. The US military, with the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” has now been fully conformed to the American elite’s vision of gay rights. How can the Southie vets argue that gays should be excluded when a Brigadier General in the U.S. army is a married lesbian and an Okinawan Air Base hosts a drag show fundraiser for a group that advocates the military LGBT cause?
But more importantly, gay rights aside, the American military as an institution is increasingly incompatible with Catholic values. You know the story: unjust wars of aggression (as in Iraq), torture, remote controlled assassination drones, perpetual undeclared war on terror around the globe, an epidemic of suicide. Most recently there is the push for “women in combat.” What could be more anti-Catholic than women in combat?
Those proud South Boston men may have won in the Supreme Court, but they will lose in the court of public opinion if they continue to hold a semi-secular parade that celebrates militarism. The best strategy would be to make the parade more exclusive of secular values and more inclusive of Catholic groups and the values of the Catholic Church, which is after all the most diverse and inclusive institution on the planet. Make it officially a Catholic parade to celebrate a Catholic saint and the heritage of Irish American Catholics. Lose the militarism, the tanks, and the guns. Have more Catholic Schools, marchers from prolife groups, and recruit faithful Catholic politicians (if you can find any) and public figures. Seek sponsorship from Catholic businessmen. Maybe there can be participation by Courage, the Catholic apostolate that ministers to folks with same sex attraction. Include workers from Catholic hospitals and charities.
It’s not my job to plan the parade but you get the idea. Peace, family values and solidarity with the poor as opposed to celebration of war and incessant bickering and vitriol over culture war issues that detract from the mission of the Church. The debate will end once it is a real Catholic parade. Promotion of gay marriage is no more acceptable in a Catholic parade than promotion of artificial birth control or Playboy magazine. Even Mayor Walsh will understand that.
The parade must change in order to survive. Massachusetts is the most Catholic state in the country. We can do better.
Note: I mention the company that makes Sam Adams beer, because, in 2002, they were involved in a notorious and depraved incident of what can only be termed “live radio pornography.” Ironically and tragically, there was a connection to St. Patrick back then too. I am not sure how this company ever became involved with the parade. Let’s pray those responsible for the 2002 scandal have repented, but if Boston Beer won’t support the new parade, here’s their replacement: