The archbishop of Portland is asking a local church not to march in the Portland's gay pride parade this weekend, even though it's been a tradition for more than a decade.
Members of St. Andrew Catholic Church have been participating in the parade since 2001.
"It has been a very important part of our ministry and our outreach," said parishioner Joy Wallace, who is co-chair of the Welcoming the Whole Family Committee.
Many parishioners were surprised when newly installed Archbishop Alexander K. Sample asked the church to skip the parade this year.
"The archbishop would prefer no parishes be in the gay pride parade and be identified as a parish," said Wallace. "As individuals we could walk but not as an identified church."
But parishioners say representing their church is the whole point. That's why church leaders made the decision to march in Sunday's parade despite the archbishop's request.
"It isn't a case where we are trying to be disobedient," said parishioner Jerry Deas, who is also a co-chair of the Welcoming the Whole Family Committee. "We're trying to be obedient to the gospels and obedient to this mission."
The archbishop wasn't available for comment. An archdiocese spokesman said he respects all people, but it would be inappropriate to sanction the parade.
"He's absolutely sending the wrong message, and I'm wondering what he's thinking," said Rev. Tara Wilkins, executive director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations. It's an interfaith organization that supports the gay and lesbian community. Wilkins said she is troubled by the archbishop's view on the parade.
"This is an unusual thing, and this is the first time I've heard of it. That a bishop has actually said that a congregation can't march," she said.
The archdiocese spokesman did not know what consequences St. Andrew Catholic Church could face for attending the parade, if any.
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