San Francisco Bishop Alarmed Over Roman Homosexual Event
(CNSNews.com) - As the countdown continues toward the first international homosexual celebration in Rome this summer - endorsed by Vice-President Al Gore - the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco has voiced deep concerns to his Vatican colleagues about the kind of exhibition that can be expected.
Bishop William Levada told a dinner with other senior clergy that he was incredulous when he learned the World Pride 2000 event was to be held in Rome during the Vatican's "Jubilee Year," reports Il Messaggero, the most widely read paper in Rome.
"I can't believe it ... I am amazed that the government would permit it - obviously the Italian authorities have no idea what might happen," he is quoted as saying. "This type of demonstration is not controllable."
The Vatican has asked the Italian government to postpone or cancel the event, planned for the first week in July and culminating in a mass demonstration on July 8th at which organizers expect 150,000 participants. Up to 200,000 pilgrims from Poland are expected to visit the Vatican during the same period.
In an attempt to force the authorities to take a stand in support of World Pride 2000, the organizers have now officially applied for police authorization and are awaiting a reply.
One newspaper columnist has written that the simple yes or no decision by the police could be the "igniting spark" that sets off a "boiling explosion ... [and] a sharp battle."
The police are clearly worried. Rome police chief Fernando Masone has warned the government that no one may be able to prevent "extremist" participants in the event from heading for St. Peters and provoking hostility at a time large numbers of Jubilee pilgrims are expected.
Bishop Levada recounted his experiences in the "capital of gay life" and especially during the annual homosexual celebration held in San Francisco every June.
Levada said that he has taken leave of the city when the 500,000 homosexual people take to the city's streets, because the demonstrations focus, among other places, on his cathedral.
Participants often dress as caricatures of priests, bishops, nuns or even the Pope. Many make obscene gestures in front of the church and some strip naked in the streets, he said.
"We are used to it, but here [in Rome] maybe they don't understand that such undressing takes place on the main streets of the city, not in hidden away areas. The law authorities do nothing to prevent it," Levada said.
Only in 1987, when Pope John Paul II visited San Francisco, did police act, preventing homosexuals from demonstrating in front of him.
"Our city is the most liberal and really is the capital of the gay world but nobody protested that as an infringement of gay rights. The simple fact was that the Pope was there that day and had not to be bothered."
Levada told his audience that California's homosexual lobby was extremely powerful and well funded.
"They have seven city council members and even the mayor and both senators, if not gay, support their cause, as in the current election for president. Bush seeks to keep them away while Gore has supported them with a statement in favor of Gay Pride Rome 2000."
Gore's Backing Wins Praise from Homosexuals
The organizers of the Rome event have once again welcomed Gore's public endorsement of their event.
In another article in Il Messaggero, published late last week, homosexual leaders of the summer event announced that Gore's support had pleased the homosexual and lesbian communities in Rome.
"It is clear that [President] Clinton in the US is well aware of the debt he owes for his victory to American gays and lesbians," a spokesperson said. "He remembers it well."
In his letter, Gore expressed his regret at not being able to join the celebration.
He praised the planned event as one which would "give the opportunity to reflect upon an ideal which has been a part of the American tradition since its inception: deepening the fundamental right for justice and equality, making more possible the dream of freedom and individual liberty in a good and just society based on equal treatment for all and special privileges for no one."
In response for opposition from the Vatican and some Italian politicians, Imma Battaglia, the president of the organizing committee, said in a statement sent to CNSNews.com: "Italy is a lay country and democratic. Nobody will stop us. We are determined to fight for the defense of our freedoms and the democracy.
"We ask all the citizens, students, parents, intellectuals, workers, the trade-union and political forces to join all the free Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and straights and to participate united under the true flag of freedoms in the march at Rome."
See Earlier Story:
Gore Endorses Roman Homosexual Celebration (Apr 12, 2000)