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Catholic School Pulls Out Of Worcester Parade Because Of Pro-Choice Sponsor

HARVARD (CBS) - The marching band from the tiny Immaculate Heart of Mary School was a no-show at Sunday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Worcester.

The band director pulled out on Saturday and informed students during Sunday Mass that because of a conflict with their assigned sponsor, a pro-choice politician, the band would not be participating.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports


Band Director Brother Peter Mary admits he should have looked into the background of their sponsor, lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Stephen Kerrigan, sooner, but he also believes parade organizers had plenty of notice on the school's position on sponsors whose beliefs are not compatible. Kerrigan is pro-choice, and in favor of gay marriage rights

"We're a pro-life school and we're against homosexual marriage," Brother Mary said. "Sure we can be charitable, kind, and generous to these people, but you can't compromise your very principles for which you live and stand," he said.

Parade directors told Mary it was too late to switch sponsors at the last minute.

Mary told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones that when he explained the dilemma to the students, they understood.

"They know they are in a Catholic school and they know that demands certain things," he said. "One of them is consistency of faith. If you actually say you are a Catholic, you actually believe what the Catholic Church teaches."

While Brother Peter understands that in life, his students will meet people who may not believe in the same things they do, he does not see the school's position as being intolerant.

"It's not a matter of intolerance, we're not intolerant because we reach out to these people," Brother Mary said, "but in an official capacity, there has to be some type of line or else people don't know the difference between error and truth or morality and immorality, or any particular thing that would put them in a state of compromise where we want to actually help them to save their soul or become better or more virtuous citizens of this country and of the church."

In the heart of town, several people took issue with the decision. "It's too bad to buttonhole them so young," said Louisa VanBaalen. "Isn't that going to create people who are going to be, in turn, intolerant of other points of view?"

But students stand behind their school's decision. "I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be insulted by it, but we don't hate anybody. We hate the sin, not the person," said Mary Kate Bohane.

"We're a Catholic school," said Tim Alexander. "We have morals that we have to live up to. As students, we have to live up to the school's beliefs and morals."

There has been no comment from Kerrigan on the school not accepting his sponsorship.

WBZ-TV's Christina Hager contributed to this report.

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