As Maine goes…?
An interesting story, via the Bangor Daily News, about Portland Bishop Richard Malone’s stance toward this fall’s state referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage. In a shift from the diocese’s campaign in 2009, which helped defeat a similar ballot initiative, Bishop Malone this time wants to propose more than oppose:
Bishop Richard Malone unveiled a 22-page pastoral letter titled “Marriage: yesterday…today…always” at a press conference at the Chancery in Portland. Malone said he wrote it to explain the church’s position on marriage…
…Malone said the letter will be the heart of the church’s response to gay marriage supporters…
“I was inspired to write about the beauty of marriage because many people have forgotten the unique and particular qualities that must be present to constitute a marriage, including having the intention of raising a family,” he said in a statement issued after the press conference. “It is also timely because once again, marriage has been thrust into the political arena as a result of the upcoming referendum.”
More than two years ago, Maine voters rejected gay marriage in a statewide vote, 53 percent to 47 percent, after it had been passed by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci. During the 2009 successful referendum to repeal same-sex marriage, the church gave $500,000 and lent its public policy director full time to the campaign…
…“We’re going to be involved in the issue and vigorously, but in a much different way than we were the last time around,” Malone said in an interview last month in Bangor. “My main thrust is going to be to take my role as the chief teacher of the diocese seriously and to try more effectively to teach and inform Catholic people about our teaching on the nature of marriage and why marriage is the union of one man and one woman — not as an attack on gay people but to say what marriage is, both from what we know from natural law and God’s revelation in Scripture.”
Malone said Friday that the diocese would not be joining the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee being formed to raise funds to oppose the same-sex marriage referendum. The diocese was part of the PAC formed to repeal the same-sex marriage law.
An interesting change of approach without a change of beliefs, and given the state of straight marriage these days, perhaps a wise priority.
ADDENDUM: The CNS story, with Malone’s spokesperson stressing that the bishop will still be defending traditional marriage.