Some local Catholics struggle with church position on gay marriage

LEWISTON — Don't be surprised if you see people passing notes in church this Sunday.

Bishop Richard Malone, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, asked parishes to pass a second collection plate during services this weekend to help raise funds for the group seeking to repeal the recently passed marriage law that reaffirms religious freedom but allows the state to recognize same-sex civil marriages.

Local Catholics have voiced their opposition to the move in letters to the editor recently printed in the Sun Journal, and a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality announced Friday it is encouraging Catholics to place notes in opposition of the repeal effort into the plate as it is passed.

"I think there are so many Catholics out there who don't agree with the church's position, and I didn't want them to feel alone," said Janice David of Farmington, a Catholic.

David attends Mass nearly every weekend and looks to the church for guidance, but said she disagrees with its opposition to the new marriage law.

"Personally, the decision of the church on this issue is an embarrassment to me. I just don't think it reflects reality in terms of the information that's available to us now in this day and age about sexuality and homosexuality, specifically," she said.

Gayle Johnson, an Auburn Catholic, said the bishop has the right to make the rules within the Catholic Church, but not for all Maine residents.

"It's really important to know there is still a strong, faithful community that likes being Catholic and respects the bishop, but is very disappointed in his decision to fight this political battle," she said in an interview Friday. "I think it's really sad and goes against the social justice teachings of the church."

Christopher Rioux, a Catholic from Lewiston, said the church is well within its rights to help repeal the law.

"If the Catholic Church had the power to veto the law, that would be a problem, but we're just Americans like anybody else, so we certainly have the right to express our beliefs, to organize, to raise money and see what we can do about it," he said.

Rioux said those who don't believe in the Catholic teachings aren't Catholics, by definition.

"If you want to be Catholic, it means you believe what the Catholic Church believes; otherwise you call yourself something else or you join another church," he said.

Rioux said if some people want to write notes of opposition instead of making donations this weekend, they should.

"They don't seem to understand the nature of the church if they think that they can have a Democratic opposition to faith or morals and that somehow that's going to make a difference. It doesn't change reality," he said.

But Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, a Catholic who voted in support of the law, said it's time for Catholics to speak up.

"People in the church should have a voice," she said.

Craven said she struggled with the decision of how to cast her vote this spring and lost the support of some constituents because of it.

"These aren't hateful or bad people; these are good people that do a lot of good things, so I am sad that I've lost their support from my one vote. But in my heart, I just had to do what I felt was right," she said.

Craven is still a practicing Catholic, but said she sometimes feels confused by the church's teachings.

"Our priests preach from the altar gorgeous and beautiful words that are inclusive and that are non-judgmental and charitable, and then in the next breath they are excluding people and hurting people and families," she said. "So I feel torn, and I feel that the mission is somehow lost."

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, said she has heard that some people are unhappy with the bishop's decision for a second plate to be passed, but maintained that it's an important issue for the church.

"There are those who think this is a good opportunity to give to the cause that they believe in, and then there are those who think that this is a very difficult time to be raising money when the churches are having such a hard time in other areas. They are kind of mixing the closure of churches with this issue, and we see it as two very different issues," she said.

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 's picture

That's not true. What they

That's not true.

What they are asking for is that the State redefine marriage, something the state has no authority to do. It is NOT about equal rights. If it were simply about equal rights, legislation could be passed recoginizing "civil unions" between same sex couples, and afford them the same priviledges and bennefits allotted married couples. Rights have nothing to do with this issue. The state DOES NOT and CANNOT grant rights, civil or otherwise. They can pass laws that PROTECT rights or grant certain bennefits or priviledges. The reasoning is simple. If government could grant rights, government could also take them away.

We already have equal rights regardless of ones choice of lifestyle. Every man, woman and child, every gay or straight person, regardless of ones ethnicity, have the same rights. The confusion over this issue exists because some people think this is about rights. It is not. Marriage is not a right, it is an institution ordained by God. Marriage existed long before governments. Marriage would, and does exist, even in the absense of government. The family (one man, one woman and, if they are so blessed, children) is the foundational building block of society. It is for this reason that most governments pass laws that protect the institution of marriage. (Some of these laws also exist in the form of revenues, i.e. marriage licenses, etc, which also have nothing to do with rights.)

Another option would be to ammend the laws that exist for married couples to include domestic partners. That would cover everyone; married couples, heterosexual couples that live together but are not married, and gay couples. Now THAT would be truely fair and equal.

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

 's picture

I am Protestant and my

I am Protestant and my church stands against same sex marriage and I agree with their stand... Not only should churches stand against it they should campaign against it... Homosexually is an aberration.... Seriously think about it... What do men with men and women with women do behind closed doors??? It's not natural...

 's picture

I am not a Catholic, and I

I am not a Catholic, and I plan to vote YES on Question 1, but I regret the focus on money by the people most in the media on this issue: Marc Mutty of the R.C. Diocese of Portland and Baptist pastor Bob Emrich. I keep getting their fund appeals, but they never give an account of what has been done with the money they receive. I strongly suspect that the number of Yes votes on 1 will not be determined by the number of $$ collected by Mutty.

I have written a pamphlet ("There is no Right to be Agreed with") discussing why the new law should be rejected. It doesn't get into religion at all. I'd be glad to send a copy to anyone who requests it from me (299 High St., Farmington 04938; e-mail:

 's picture

So if the bible says that

So if the bible says that being gay is wrong, does that also mean that owning slaves is okay? That's what the bible about the Leviticus Holiness codes....According to the codes, a worker must be paid his wage on the day of his labor. A field is never to be harvested to the edge. Two types of yarn are never to be woven into the same cloth. Raw meat is not to be eaten. Tattoos are forbidden. Bigamy is clearly acceptable. Or is it okay to pick and choose what parts of the Bible you choose to live by?

 's picture

I wonder how many gay or

I wonder how many gay or lesbian catholics there are and how they feel about the issue. I also wonder why sexually abusive priests picked on boys. Are those or were those priests gay besides being criminals? I think that instead of saying "no way", catholics should all take a look in the mirror and at their friends and families. If you had a gay son and he married another gay man, would you love him less as your son? If the answer is yes, maybe some soul-searching needs to be done to figure out your priorities.

 's picture

First off, the church has no

First off, the church has no right getting involved in politics in the first place. The catholics may not believe in homosexuality , but yet the preists themselves are the biggest perpertraitors of this. Whats up with that anyway? If preist were allowed to marry and have a family like normal people, there would not be so much sexual abuse of preist molesting children. Nobody has the right whatsoever to jude except GOD ALMIGHTY HIMSELF. IT IS HIS DECISION and NONE OF NOBODYS BUSINESS. Religion and politics do not mix. KEEP RELIGION OUT OF THE POLITICAL ISSUES.

 's picture

Seriously mom. Are you a

Seriously mom. Are you a blind follower? Are you saying it's not OK to be a Catholic and ask questions? Have an original thought mom. You might like it.


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