Catholics put cash behind Question 1

Posted Sept. 27, 2009, at 8:50 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Kelly Maltz, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish and St. Matthews Church, is one of many area Catholics who responded to Bishop Richard J. Malone’s plea at church on Sunday for funds to support Question 1, which would overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law.

While standing outside the church after Mass, Maltz said she believes the same-sex marriage legislation would hurt the sanctity of traditional marriage.

“It’s my belief that marriage is Christ-ordained,” she said.

The issue has become quite controversial, she said, even among her friends. Maltz said some supporters of Question 1 are reluctant to discuss the matter because others automatically think they are against gay men and lesbians.

“That’s not what it’s about,” she said. “That saddens me. It’s about marriage. It’s hard because people feel divided. It’s so sad to see such a division.”

Hampden’s Catholic church was one of six in the St. Paul the Apostle Parish that held second collections on Sunday in support of Question 1. Catholic churches around the state have held special collections in September in support of the measure. The amount raised statewide was not immediately available on Sunday from the Diocese of Portland.

While some Catholics gave in support of overturning the same-sex marriage law, a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality issued a statement on Sunday supporting a no vote on Question 1.

The group wants “the diocese to know that it is not speaking for all faithful Catholics,” according to a press release.

A recorded message from Bishop Malone was played during the St. Matthews service on Sunday asking church members to do four things — pray that “marriage as we know it” prevails, financially support the campaign, volunteer in support of the campaign and vote yes on Question 1.

“Marriage matters,” the bishop stated. “This above all things is the driving force behind Question 1.”

Malone went on to say that history has shown that a family with one man and one woman provides the most nurturing environment for children.

“Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that many of us believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole,” he said. “Children need the love of a mother and a father.”

Serious consequences will be created if Question 1 fails, including a significant number of legal questions and the beginning of same-sex education in Maine schools, which has begun in Massachusetts and California where same-sex laws are on the books, Malone said.

“These are profound changes that will reverberate throughout our state with tragic consequences,” he said. “Changing the definition of marriage represents disturbing the nature of one of the primary building blocks of our civilization.”

The Catholics for Marriage Equality group stressed that the same-sex marriage law does many things to support families.

“Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament reserved to the Church to define and administer,” Anne Underwood, a founding member of the group states. “Civil marriage is a right of the state to define and with it comes over 300 state benefits to better the lives of our families and children. No church can morally deprive families and children of state recognition.”

She goes on to say that, “The informed consciences of many Catholics compel them to reject the bishop’s political opinion about same-sex marriage.”

Bill Anderson, of Hampden, who attended Mass at St. Matthews and contributed to the special collection, said he supports voting on Question 1 because he wants to see the separation of church and state.

“I’d just like to see this settled because I don’t like the idea of the politics and religion,” said the retired Brewer teacher. “I’d like to see this straightened out.”

After Malone’s tape ended at St. Matthews, Father Seamus Griesbach stood at the pulpit and said he understands that same-sex marriage is “not an easy issue” to discuss, especially since the church is compassionate and loving toward everyone.

“The next month or so is going to be tough,” he said. “This is something that many of us are very concerned about. It may change our culture and the truth needs to be spoken.

“The truth is able to rise above the slogans and destructiveness of this and the politics surrounding this issue,” he added later. “It’s ultimately an issue that is about much more than politics and so the church does have an obligation to speak in great love and concern.”

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