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Handful protests at Holy Name Cathedral, despite cancellation
News update posted Jan. 8, 2012
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-01-11

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Despite an official protest cancellation by LGBT groups, a handful of LGBT-rights activists assembled outside of Holy Name Cathedral Jan. 8 to demonstrate against Cardinal Francis George, who recently remarked that the LGBT Pride Parade could morph into something like a Ku Klux Klan ( KKK ) gathering.

Just six protesters gathered outside of the church as Mass let out. The official protest scheduled by Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) , Rainbow Sash Movement ( RSM ) and Equality Illinois was called off after the cardinal apologized Jan. 6.

The apology did not satisfy protesters, who said it came too late and meant little.

Protester Andy Karol called the cardinal's apology "completely insufficient" and "not from the heart."

"I don't want people to stop and stay silent and forget about it," said Karol.

"We all know what this is about," said protester Ryne Poelker. "It's about civil unions and adoption rights."

A group of Catholic Charities chapters lost its foster-care contracts last year after the civil-unions law went into effect and the branches refused to place children with same-sex civil-union couples. The charities lost a lawsuit against the state over the contracts. Some activists have argued that the cardinal's recent remarks were payback for the loss of the contracts, worth tens of millions of dollars.

The cardinal told Fox News Chicago in December the he worried that changes to the LGBT Pride Parade that interfered with Sunday services at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lakeview, could mirror KKK protests.

"You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism," he said.

Parade organizers have since announced an agreement with the church, which has declined to weigh in on George's controversial remarks.

Therese Flanagan passed the protesters outside of the cathedral after dropping her mother off to church. She agreed that the cardinal's apology was too little, too late.

"I just think what he said was so out of line," she said. "You can't spread hate like that and maintain a Catholic base."

Flanagan does not identify as LGBT, but said she supports equality.

Security guards and police eyed protesters from the steps of the cathedral as parishioners poured from the building when Mass let out just after noon. Several of the churchgoers stopped to read signs or talk to the protesters, but the interactions appeared mostly calm and cordial. Some parishioners stopped to debate with protesters, but most continued on their way.

Also present were Joe Murray, executive director of Rainbow Sash Movement, and Andy Thayer of Gay Liberation Network. Both activists agreed to cancel the protest but arrived, they said, in case people showed.

Thayer also called the cardinal's apology "insufficient." His group is following through with plans to protest outside the church Sunday, Feb. 12, in coordination with National Freedom to Marry Day.

Murray spent time at Holy Name earlier in the week. On Jan. 6, he attended Mass there, where he was denied communion for wearing a rainbow sash, he said.

According to Murray, he was told four times that if he took the sash off, he could receive communion. Murray declined to do so.

"Every other group in the church self-identifies," he said, rebuking the argument that wearing the sash was too political.


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