LEWISTON — Catholics celebrating traditional marriages Saturday had mixed reactions to a U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday that declared gay marriage legal in all 50 states.

Bishop Robert Deeley told the congregation at Holy Family Church he was profoundly disappointed by the decision, as would all who see marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

But Catholic priests and other religious officials will not have to perform marriages of gay couples, according to the majority decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, Deeley said.

Kennedy wrote that the ruling applies to civil marriages. For that he is thankful, the bishop said.

“But I do wonder whether or not I will be able to teach the constant moral teaching of the church on sexuality and its appropriate purpose and will be able to employ persons for the carrying out of the mission of the church,” Deeley said.

Holy Family Church member Ray Chaloux said he had no problem with the national legalization of gay marriage.


“If two people are happy together, let them be happy,” he said. “I’m for it. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

He was celebrating 25 years of marriage with his wife, Joline.

“I have many mixed feelings,” she said. “I have friends and relatives who are gay. It’s hard to pass judgment. I think love is love.”

Tony Douglas, who was attending Mass, said he disagreed with the court decision. “I don’t support it.”

Neither does Lionel Koss, celebrating 61 years of marriage with his wife, Kathleen.

Koss paused when asked his opinion. “You really want to know?” he asked, then shook his head no and said he’s opposed to same-sex marriage.


“I don’t agree with it,” Kathleen Koss said. “But I guess, who are we to say? I like the way our marriage is. I wouldn’t want to be married to a woman.”

Research shows nationally that public opinion of gay marriage has swung in favor, and that there’s a split between generations with more young people supporting it than older people.

In 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage, 57 percent to 35 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. Today, 57 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage and 39 percent oppose it.

Among Catholics and white mainline Protestants, roughly six in 10 support same-sex marriage, according to Pew Research.

The bishop acknowledged that more young Catholics support gay marriage. When he talks to someone who is in favor, “I listen to where people are, and I try to help them to understand what the church is teaching concerning marriage.”

It’s understandable that younger people are more supportive of gay marriage, Deeley said. “Our public schools have been indoctrinating them for years. There is a situation which the notion of what marriage is has been taken away by the public sector years ago.”

Twenty-five years ago, “everyone would have seen marriage in the same way,” the bishop said.

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