Cardinal to lead St. Pat parade with 1st gay group

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Roman Catholic archbishop of New York is drawing attention for his decision to stay on as grand marshal of next year's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Organizers of the city event said Wednesday they're allowing the first gay contingent to march under its own banner.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement parade organizers have "my confidence and support" and he thanked them for keeping the parade "close to its Catholic heritage."

Advocates for gay rights within the Catholic Church are cheering Dolan's decision as his "Pope Francis moment." Francis has said he wants church leaders to focus more on mercy than divisive social issues.

But some theological conservatives say Dolan is sending the wrong signal about church teaching on marriage. They're urging him to step down as grand marshal.

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