Catholic Church To Chicago Gay Parade: Not On Our Turf

It’s the Catholic Church vs. the gays (again) as Chicago’s annual pride parade is being rerouted next summer past a 125-year-old house of worship. The new route—chosen by the city to help alleviate overcrowding—will take the June 24 parade along Belmont Avenue, right past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. And the local clergy are raising a holy furor about it.

They argue that the march—which is also starting earlier this year, at 10am, to curb drinking–will disrupt Sunday Mass and block parishioners from entering the church.

In 2011, the parade played host to a record-breaking 800,000 people and seems to grow even larger next year. Church representatives, who say they might have to suspend Sunday masses for the first time in nearly 100 years, are circulating petitions urging the city to change the route and start time once again.

You’d think Our Lady would be down on the parade on moral grounds, but Rev. Thomas Srenn, the church’s pastor, says otherwise: “Many of our parishioners will be at the parade and some will be in the parade,” Srenn told the Chicago Tribune. “The parish reflects all that diversity. It has nothing to do with the theme of the parade. The change of route and the time brought it right in the heart of our sacred time.”

On the Mount Carmel website, a parish statement touts the Pride celebration as “one of the hallmarks that make Lakeview unique,” and says the petition only reflects their “concern that the impact of the new route and time would have on the ability of people to participate at Sunday morning Masses.”

Wonder if Srenn and his flock would raise such a fuss if it was a St. Patrick’s Day Parade marching down Belmont?

Parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer told the Tribune that there were three churches along the old route, with no complaints or disruptions. He added that barriers could be set up in front of the church so that parishioners can make it inside.

“The pastor has not emailed or called us,” Pfeiffer told Fox TV 32. “This church has multiple Masses, so maybe a compromise is that they come to an earlier Mass?”

Image via Gerald Farinas

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  • Kevin

    Mount Carmel has a Gay and Lesbian Mass every Sunday as is clearly stated on their website. I think we can believe them when they say they are only upset about the disruption of church services.

  • Lauren

    I think they have a semi-valid argument. They clearly have no issues with the theme of the parade, but with the hassle it will bring to their weekly routine. If you were trying too go to church, or wherever, and there was a giant crowd making parking and driving difficult, in a city where driving and parking is already dificult, wouldnt you be peeved too? No one should bring up a st. patricks parade argument, as the theme of the parade, again, is not the problem.

  • ryan

    The headline is misleading, kinda shotty Journalism if you ask me.

  • the crustybastard

    ATTENTION: Catholic Church

    You enjoy the use and convenience of those roads and sidewalks despite not paying a single penny of your incalculable wealth towards building or maintaining them.

    So when the city maps out a parade route along those roads and sidewalks paid for by the citizens who will march on them — could you for once just shut the fuck up!

    They’re OUR roads and sidewalks. Not yours.

    Jesus Goosestepping Christ.

  • Rachael

    Yeah this is a misleading headline. And realistically Catholic churches traditionally have a very high level of attendance on Sunday masses- much higher than a lot of protestant churches. They’re clearly stating it isn’t about the theme – and I really believe them. This…is not a well written article. Way to misconstrue a lot of things that really aren’t there.

  • Melvin

    As a fellow gay man, I see no problem with their petition. I don’t really believe in religion, but I deeply respect people who do and respect most of their practices. Sunday worship is one of the most sacred practices and considering how openminded and accepting this particular church is, there should be no trouble rerouting the parade to some other street so that both can coexist,

  • Stuart

    I’m very impressed with how progressive and accepting Our Lady appear to be. I believe they have very valid concerns, with no hint of criticism of the parade for any grounds other than the disruption it will cause to those wishing to practice their faith. Shame to see “Catholic Church” and general tone of title, feels like it’s pandering to old prejudices for a reaction.

  • Crysta

    Why cant they simply cordon off areas for both groups use and be done with it. They have WELL enough time to let their people know, on BOTH sides, to prepare for the influx of crowds!

    Done and done!

  • Kurt

    @the crustybastard: ATTENTION: LGBT organizations, including HRC, Victory Fund, Task Force, the LGBT Community Center, and Pride Chicago Parade Committee,

    You enjoy the use and convenience of those roads and sidewalks despite not paying a single penny of your incalculable wealth towards building or maintaining them. Just shut the fuck up and route your parade away from a block that someone else has a previous claim to.

  • Steven

    There not making it a fuss because its a gay pride parade, this is just another thing that the some people in the gay community are getting pissed off about. If it was a buddhist temple that would be having their mediation that was asking for it to be changed then it would be different. All of you that are complaining are making the rest of us (and yes, I am Gay) look like overly defensive jerks that want everything to be the way we want or we’ll through a hissy fit.

  • iDavid

    As liberal as any Catholic church SEEEEEMS to be, every Catholic church in the world promotes zero gay sex / gays are an abomination and keep it in you’d pants. With this in mind, if they miss a few dollars in the Sunday basket that upholds discrimination towards gay sex love and marriage, which is the basis for their petition along with hidden vitriolic, though shit. Never Ever let your guard down in a pasture of wolves in sheeps clothing, or death could be your destiny.

  • the crustybastard


    Those gay groups didn’t select the parade route, dipshit.

  • iJustin

    I’m sorry. Sometimes reading some of the articles on this site makes me ashamed to be gay. No, I’m not ashamed because some people argue I’m going to hell, or say I’m unnatural, or don’t talk to me because of it. I’m ashamed because the community I am inherently a part of is full of complainers. Frankly, their argument is valid. Why not re-route it one block and respect them like we would like to be respected. Sometimes I can’t help but think that if the gay community were more respectful, some; not all though, other people would be more respectful towards us.

  • iJustin

    @bagooka: I never said I hated myself. Read my comment and don’t get overly defensive like the gay community seems to deem necessary. To be honest, half the hate the gay community receives is brought on by gay media bashing other people. You can’t fight hate with hate, but, I only came on here to state my opinion, not to argue with a bunch of people with “I am discriminated against” syndrome. By the way, real nice way to show support. What if I was one of those gay kids bullied in school and you made that comment? Gonna kill one of the people you argue so hard for their rights. Real nice.

  • Rick1973

    Well Thanks for using my Sister Pic LOL… (Was a bit shocked!) It is totallly about the service as the church has not missed a sunday service in over a 100 years. BTW… That’s a shot of NV Sister Mary Anita Bonghit ;-)

  • Elliott

    Hey Queerty,
    We all like a good villain character as much as the next… but speaking as a Lakeview resident, everybody knows this church and others are very liberal and have many gay members.

    Also, the parade has just gotten too big. 800,000 last year alone. The streets were trashed, people were dancing on top of cars and in one case breaking a windshield when falling on it.

    Boystown has always had trouble with parking, and if the Cubs are in town, you can kiss parking goodbye. The city moved the parade time up hoping to cut down on public drinking, and this won’t work. You will have people crowding around that church during its peak time, because masses didn’t go that late under the old time.

    The streets are basically impassable when the parade starts and people park themselves in their spots earlier than that.

    The elephant in the room is that Chicago’s gay community has to start looking at possibly moving the parade out of Lakeview and into the downtown area to deal with the crowds. Nobody wants to take away the symbolism of having it in the community, but it’s getting a lil crowded in here.

  • Josh

    I think it’s a perfectly reasonable request.

  • Brian

    Compare the tone of this article to the puff-piece yesterday about how fabulous Judaism is for gay people compared to Christianity, and you will see where Queerty’s prejudices lie. The author of this article doesn’t even know enough to be embarrassed by the bigotry of it; it’s OK…we’ll be embarrassed for you.

  • D.B.

    The church’s request is completely reasonable. What’s not reasonable is this website’s misguided attempt to portray this request as another example of gay discrimination.

  • DavyJones

    I agree with many (if not most) of the posts here; this seems like a reasonable request on the church’s part. Parades are not calm quiet affairs, and I can certainly see why they’d rather the route didn’t go right past their Sunday Mass at 10 o’clock in the morning…

    Their post on their website ( seems entirely reasonable, and differs exceptionally from the tone implied by this article. The Catholic Church has lots of skeletons, and there are many people involved with it who attack the LGBT community; however it doesn’t look like this parish is one of them, and we shouldn’t treat them like they are, just because they make a reasonable request.

  • Steve

    The church should invite the gays in, and offer them breakfast. Hospitality is one of the oldest traditions of the church, and is the focus of numerous commandments. Hospitality, breaking bread and feeding people, is exemplified by Jesus himself in the story of the loaves and fishes, and also in the last supper. The modern “communion” is what remains of that ancient tradition. It is reduced to a symbol, rather than an actual meal, but that symbol recalls the great tradition of giving to at traveler.

    Of course, they won’t. The Catholic church just doesn’t do hospitality any more. They don’t even give symbolic communion to people who don’t give them money regularly.

  • Brian

    The church has a completely reasonable point. This shouldn’t be a fight between the church and the gays, but a fight of us both against the city of Chicago for trying to decrease the parade’s attendance through an earlier start time and awkward route. The Chicago pride parade had definitely outgrown itself, but the city should have embraced that growth by moving the parade to lake shore drive, where there’s enough room for everybody and nothing would be blocked.

  • Sam

    @Steve: I’m not sure which church you have been attending, but if you attend mass, you get to receive the communion, no matter if you donate or not donate money. Period. If that way the truth, the number of homeless and lower income families who are regulars at my church would be refused, which they are not. Also, the number of initiatives that a surprising number of Catholic churches have taken to become more inclusive should be acknowledge. Not all Catholics are Rick Perry.

  • Ugh

    This church reminds me of my whiny neighbor who, like this church, wants to be in the middle of a major city yet have a convenient country-style life with no noise and no people.

    Dear church (and neighbor) — you decided to set up in the middle of the third largest city in the country. If you want a nice, quiet existence without noise, events, and people going past, then leave the city and move to a nice, quiet country plot where you can build a megachurch far away from other people.

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