This year, as for the past 12 years or more, parishioners from St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church have marched under their church banner in New York’s colorful Gay Pride parade.
But this year, there was a difference.
Their banner was blank, missing the name of the church.
New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan asked the church’s pastor to keep St. Francis’ name out of the picture.
The parish was told that the archdiocese’s spiritual leader was concerned the church might be seen as endorsing some elements of the gay pride march that may advocate a promiscuous lifestyle.
“Our people are not endorsing that at all,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Joe Costantino.
Members of the gay ministries of St. Francis Xavier say they view the parade as an opportunity to welcome gay Catholics back into the fold.
They hand out welcome brochures to reach out to anyone watching the march.
“Perhaps some people come to St. Francis because they don’t feel judged,” said Stephanie Samoy, a self-proclaimed lesbian who has been active in the parish for several years.
“I don’t know if it’s the Holy Spirit, but there’s love…the presence of the savior,” said Samoy.