Catholics hear sermons on marriage

LEWISTON — Pastors at St. Philips Church in Auburn and Holy Family Church in Lewiston focused their sermons on marriage in coordination with a request by Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to take a special collection in support of repealing Maine's new law allowing same-sex marriage.

Many parishioners at St. Philips and Holy Family chose not to participate, while others placed small donations of mostly between $1 and $5 into the second collection baskets. Both the Rev. Richard McLaughlin of St. Philips and the Rev. Joseph Daniels of Holy Family gave clear instructions to donors that their money would be given directly to the Stand for Marriage Maine political action committee, which is seeking to repeal the law, and that it would not be tax deductible.

But the pastors' sermons, while both addressing the issue of marriage, were decidedly different in tone and church-goers had varying reactions.

"Both sides in this debate feel deep in their heart that words matter," said McLaughlin during a 9:15 a.m. mass.

McLaughlin said all he is asking parishioners to do is "take a second look" and to "think a bit about what's happening here."

"It is clear that human beings bring offspring into the world through the intimate action of a man and a woman; this is so fundamental to societies that even the most primitive that have been studied take a special interest in this relationship," he said.

McLaughlin asked members to "make thoughtful decisions based on Christian values and what is best for humanity."

"My closest friend is in a committed relationship, they are a very loving couple; they are very dear people and they are close to my heart and I would want what is best for them," he said. "No wonder people are infuriated by anyone who refuses to give respect and honor and dignity to their loved ones. Words matter."

One parishioner, a Lewiston woman who declined to give her name, said the pastor "walked a very fine line" and did a "decent job of not offending anyone."

Another, a man who also declined to give his name, said he "gave a little money" to the second collection and plans to vote in favor of the repeal.

Gerald and Mariette Timberlake of Auburn, who have been attending St. Philips for more than 25 years, said they prefer this church because it is open-minded and friendly.

"I appreciated that he didn't dictate a specific position," Gerald said.

In Lewiston, during the 11 a.m. service at Holy Family Church, the Rev. Joseph Daniels spoke of the importance of natural law in society.

"Natural law, forming the basis of both our civil law and our church law, guides all law toward fundamental orientation and purpose to respect the common good of all people," he said. "Put quite simply, the common good of all society is vitally dependent on marriage as we know it and as it has always been known from the beginning."

Daniels told church-goers that some European nations have seen a "precipitous decline" in the population of young people and are struggling to preserve national retirement benefits for health care programs as a result.

"Now look around you, Maine is an aging state. Could we be headed in the same direction?" he asked. "Could various health care programs, necessary government and public services, the reward for a decent and deserved retirement, be jeopardized in part because the laws of society do not properly recognize the importance of marriage?"

Daniels closed his sermon by asking for parishioners to pray the debate remain dignified and truth-filled and that they "assist us in taking on the positions of leadership" and "vote yes when the question is presented in November."

One woman leaving Holy Family after the service said it was "wonderful, I'm Catholic all the way."

Joe of Lewiston, who declined to give his last name, said he didn't feel that Daniels was telling him what to do.

"I've got friends and family who are gay, but I don't support that lifestyle and I still believe marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman," he said.

A group called Catholics for Marriage Equality announced Friday afternoon they were asking Catholics who support the same-sex marriage law to place notes of opposition to the repeal effort in the second collection basket, but none were spotted at either church by a Sun Journal reporter. A petition expressing support of the law was seen circulating at St. Philips, but not at Holy Family.

The law grants civil marriage rights to same-sex couples and states no religious institutions will be compelled to perform or recognize any marriages they don't want to. Mainers will have an opportunity to vote to repeal or uphold the law on Nov. 3.


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The church like all other

The church like all other entities is free to do what it pleases. The address I heard at the service I attended was excellent and non-judgemental. The unfortunate thing here is that the poor choice of wording by our Legislators. The word MARRIAGE should not have been used. I have not seen the actual bill,but because of the commotion this is causing assume it did. The benefits a heterosexual couple obtains by marriage should be available to all outside of an actual marriage contract by another contract defined by law that could apply to all regardless of sexual orientation. Using the word marriage in this case is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Substitute a different term, let all those who wish to use it, use it, and make the same legal objectives apply to this contract between two persons as marriage provides. Certainly sexual orientation does not matter in the right to determine to insure one's partner in life, nor to make decisions in care giving when needed, nor other rights and benefits that married people take for granted that even those heterosexuals who chose to live together without marriage do not have. All people who chose to partner with another should be able to declare this without calling it a marriage for whatever reason and obtain the rights and responsibilities similar to marriage. Certainly we have enough lawyers available that this can be done and the citizens would not have to vote on this again.

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First of all, the issue is

First of all, the issue is not about "allowing" gays to marry or to do anything else. The issue is about whether we will speak English. Gays are already allowed to do all the same things that other people are allowed to do. But homosexual relationships are not called "marriages" because that's not what the word means. I would not be surprised if there are lots of homosexually-oriented people who are quietly standing by watching the absurdity of this debate and knowing that nothing of importance can depend on redefining common words. By insisting that only if we change the English language can gays be happy, those pushing this program are insulting gays.

As an example of how silly it gets, one commenter wrote, "Force gays to live lies leading to marriages of unhappiness and deceit?" Nobody is forcing gays to do anything at all. They make their own choices, as the rest of us do. If they lie, that's their choice, and I hope the writer isn't saying that all gays are liars. There are lots of people who are honest about their sexual inclinations, and also lots of people who don't go around talking about their sex lives, since it isn't other people's business. And if anyone makes an unhappy marriage, that too is their responsibility, and their partner's.

Incidentally, although I will vote Yes on question 1, I don't think anybody should give money to "Stand for Marriage Maine." That "organization" (it is really just two men with the backing of Bishop Malone) seems to exist primarily to glorify itself and to collect money. If the new law is vetoed they will claim that "We did it," but it won't be true. It will have been done by Maine citizens voting their consciences. Help to educate the public by refuting fallacies when you hear or see them.

Sources I recommend include Jeffrey Satinover, MD, "Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth"; The Witherspoon Institute, "Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles"; and my own pamphlet, "There is no Right to be Agreed with."


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