New York Catholics boycott St. Pat's Parade
Thousands of Catholics have boycotted the first of the city's two St. Patrick's Day parades because the politician selected as grand marshal supports abortion rights.
City Councilman Jay O'Donovan was picked to lead the parade by Staten Island's Ancient Order of Hibernians, a church-affiliated group that sponsors the march, which normally has 8000 participants.
The co-vicars of Staten Island's Catholic Church urged parishioners to attend Mass instead.
"I'm standing on principle. This is an issue that is important to my faith," said one of the co-vicars, Monsignor Peter Finn.
In response, Staten Island's eight Catholic high schools withdrew their marching bands. The Knights of Columbus joined the boycott. And several chapters of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians split with their male counterparts and dropped out, too.
Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari said he will skip what would have been his final parade appearance as the island's top official.
O'Donovan said he respected the monsignor's stance, "But my view is a woman has a right to choose."
The Staten Island event is held before Manhattan's far larger parade on Fifth Avenue so that people can attend both. In recent years, the Manhattan parade has been torn by disputes over letting gay Catholics march under their own banner.