Our friend, Adam Bink from OpenLeft, has been in Maine for the past week, working on the No on 1 campaign. Today, he has a very interesting and insightful post on the Catholic Bishop of Maine, who has taken a very political role as the leader of the anti-gay side. Adam’s post includes an interview with Ann Underwood from Catholics for Marriage Equality. Here’s an excerpt:
Q: What kind of response have you had from both Catholics who may be favorable to your message as well as rank-and-file Catholics who may be less favorable?
To be honest, I haven’t heard anything from anybody that hasn’t been favorable. I get so much enthusiasm, especially from younger Catholics, who are the face of the Church we’d all like to see, the face of the Church of a God of expansive and not exclusionary love. One of the things that’s struck me in this campaign is when the Bishop did his six statements, he never cited Scripture. He never talked about Jesus. He never talked about God. He never talked about love, justice, fairness and compassion. He had a strict political message. And what we’ve been trying to do with our buttons is say God is love. We’re speaking out of our tradition and out of the Gospels and speaking about love, not a political action. My experience with the people I’ve been talking with and the stories I was hearing, I thought I would be doing something political. I really feel I’m doing something more pastoral, and listening to people’s stories, hurt, and hope.
I don’t think Bishop Malone has done himself any favors with his outspoken role in a campaign that’s based on lies and hate. The Catholic Church in Maine has been shutting down parishes. And, Malone is on the verge of conducting a major capital campaign. He’s trying to raise large amounts of money to keep his church functioning. But, Malone made the anti-gay campaign his top priority.
The Bishop’s outspoken role may make him a hero to the National Organization for Marriage, but it’s been damaging to his flock. When I was in Maine earlier this month, I was struck at the very strong feelings Catholics have towards the Bishop and his role on the anti-gay side. And, it wasn’t limited to young people. This was coming from my 73-year old mother and father and people their age. These folks are the Bishop’s target market — and they are opposing him. It’s sad, really. The Catholic Church should be a powerful voice for social justice. Instead, it’s become an cabal of angry old men who think being homophobic is a virtue.
The Mormon church lost a lot of credibility because of Prop. 8. The Catholic Church in Maine is facing the same fate over Question 1.