The Bishop of Maine led a hateful campaign against equality in Maine. Bashing gays is a surefire way to move up in the Catholic Church. It’s almost as good as covering up sex abuses cases. But, it comes at a price. After detailing the Bishop’s heavy involvement in the Maine campaign, including spending $550,000 (at a time when parishes are closing), the National Catholic Reporter notes:
But hundreds of Catholics disagreed with the bishop.
“It is a sad day, as the leaders of the Catholic church in Maine relish, in delight, that they have succeeded in keeping the homosexual families of Maine outside of the walls of society where they must beg to maintain their very existence, much like the lepers and blind in the Bible were kept outside the city walls in days of old,” said Jack Dougherty of Eliot, Maine, a member of Catholics for Marriage Equality.
Portland attorney George Burns, who helped draft the Catholic statement on equality, said “The bishop won at a great price — whether he cares about that price or not. He has divided his flock.”
One Catholic, Pamella Starbird Beliveau of Lewiston, Maine, was removed as a lector and eucharistic minister after her pastor read an opinion piece she wrote for the local newspaper approving of same-sex marriage.
She told a rally outside the Portland cathedral Nov. 1, “I am sad but not surprised by what happened. … The Catholic church has every right to determine who can and cannot serve as ministers in the church. I respect that. We must keep our eyes focused on the issue and that is equality for our gay and lesbian citizens.”
The Catholics supporting the legislation had tried to focus on the issue of civil equality. While the church’s view of sacramental marriage — with its sacred rites — is one thing, civil marriage, which is a basic human and civil right, is quite another. These groups were well aware of these nuances in their advocacy for pro marriage-equality.
Actually, I’d say tens of thousands of Catholics probably disagreed with the bishop. His Diocese is shrinking before his eyes. Over the past few months, five more parishes have been closed. And, if one needs any clearer sense of what the future holds, look at the returns from the University of Maine in Orono. As Adam Bink reported on Tuesday night:
Final numbers are in from UM-Orono campus- 81% No, 19% yes
The Bishop will be closing a lot more parishes over the next couple years. He won a battle, but will lose this war.