Catholic Cardinal Francis George: Gay Pride = Klan Rally? (Norman Costa)
FutureNews Network (FNN) - June 2012, Chicago, IL, USA
A record 850,000 people came to Chicago today to watch or take part in the Annual Gay Pride Parade. By all accounts, it was loud, fun, quirky, colorful, at times bordering on the ourrageous and risque, and a great success, according to parade organizers. 'It's all about pride,' said the President of the organizing committee for this year's event. 'It's about pride in ourselves, our friends, our community, and in Chicago for being a great city of tolerance and inclusion.'
Only six months ago, there was concern about the reaction of the Catholic Church. Our own Cardinal Francis George likened the rhetoric of some members of the GLBT to that of the KKK. The Cardinal said that to them, the Catholic Church is the enemy.
The Cardinal was prompted to make his remarks, because the parade route was changed and would pass right in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, RC Church, on West Belmont Avenue. The local pastor was very concerned because Sunday morning church goers would find it very difficult to get through the crowds and cross the parade route to get to Sunday Mass.
Predictably, there was an outcry over Cardinal George's remarks. What seemed like an inevitable confrontation between the Catholic Church and the parade organizers, was transformed into a cooperative display of community spirit. It began when the Cardinal apologized for what he described as intemperate and uncharitable remarks.
The Cardinal, himself, negotiated with the city and the parade organizers. Local parishioners organized themselves as escorts and path makers through the crowds, and crossing guards to get church goers safely across the street. The whole thing was supervised by the police so that there would be a minimum of interruptions for church goers and the parade.
The real news was not the agreement on escorts and crossing guards, but a large sign put up by Cardinal George, in front of the Church. It had the schedule of Masses.
'SUNDAY - 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
AGLO Mass - Sunday 7:00 p.m. - Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach'
In addition, the sign read, 'After the parade, come back for Mass, or for private prayer and meditation in our Church. All are welcome.'
We learned that both Cardinal George, and pastor Father Thomas Srenn officiated at the 7:00 pm AGLO Mass. No one expected the overflow crowd for the AGLO Mass. The only problems were two people who tried to disrupt the Mass, but they were quickly excorted out by plain clothes police.
The Cardinal was asked if the Church would do the same for next year. 'Of course,' he said. 'That is why the Church is here.' When asked if he would do anything different, he was quick to say, 'Yes. Next year we will have two AGLO Masses, and sufficient time and priests to hear confessions beforehand.'
A CNN reporter asked if there was anything else he would like to say. He said, 'Bless all gay Catholics, all gay people, and all children of God!' The reporter was heard to say, 'Amen.'