Fr. Bosco Wong asks John Pacheco and others intending to pray the rosary at Ottawa's Gay Pride Parade to do their praying inside St. Patrick's Basilica.

CCN PHOTO | DEBORAH GYAPONG

Fr. Bosco Wong asks John Pacheco and others intending to pray the rosary at Ottawa's Gay Pride Parade to do their praying inside St. Patrick's Basilica.

August 31, 2015
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

A rerouting of Ottawa's Gay Pride Parade Aug. 23 took marchers past St. Patrick's Basilica, prompting some Catholics to mount a protest.

Social activist John Pacheco, who organized the 15,000-strong March for Marriage in 2005, urged men to gather in front of the basilica to pray the rosary with their backs turned to the parade.

Forty to 50 people, both men and women, arrived shortly before 1 p.m. and began to pray.

Pacheco said he decided to urge pray-ers to turn their backs because he was not sure whether there would be nudity in the parade.

He also thought having backs turned would encourage those participating to pray rather than engage in confrontations.

But Pacheco ended up in a confrontation with a member of St. Patrick's pastoral council, who told him their stance was provocative.

Sheila Jones sought the assistance of the basilica's pastor, Father Bosco Wong, who asked Pacheco to stop the sidewalk prayer. The priest invited the group to come inside to pray.

Pacheco told the protestors to listen to their consciences, but he was going to obey the priest and go inside. About 25 people followed him, while 10 to 20 remained outdoors.

"Part of being a Catholic is to obey," he said. "When what you are being asked to do is something not objectively evil, even if you don't agree with it, you have to obey."

Pacheco hopes the archdiocese as a whole will address the rerouting of the Pride Parade. "As a Church community we have to address what Catholics are permitted to do, in light of the provocation in changing the route."

Johanne Brownrigg, Ottawa lobbyist for Campaign Life Coalition, who attended Mass at St. Patrick's Sunday, disapproved of the prayer protest.

"If the pastor of the Church, who is trusted and respected as Father Bosco is, says get inside, then all of you should have been inside," she said on Facebook.

"Prayer inside, deep, personal and communal, was entirely appropriate and necessary," she said. "Backs turned toward the parade, with prominent displays of our Catholic faith, hurt the Church not the Pride movement."

Susan Petrie, a St. Patrick's parishioner, defended those praying outside, even though she joined the group inside.

"Someone has to say 'This is the truth,'" she said.