PORTLAND, Maine — The state’s Catholic diocese will continue to be administered by Bishop Richard J. Malone even after he takes the reins of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., next month, and the man who has advocated the church’s positions in the halls of the State House for 20 years will retire next year.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced Tuesday that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Malone its apostolic administrator, effective Aug. 10, the day Malone is to be installed as head of the Buffalo diocese. Malone will continue to serve Catholics in Maine and western New York until the pope names a new bishop for the Diocese of Portland.
The appointment will allow Malone to continue “the church’s educational leadership as the referendum approaches which attempts to redefine marriage,” a press release from the diocese said. The bishop earlier this year released a pastoral letter on marriage and has said the church opposes a Nov. 6 referendum that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine.
Malone also has said the Catholic Church would play an educational role in the campaign to defeat the referendum but would not contribute to it financially as it did in 2009, when the diocese gave $500,000 to the campaign that successfully repealed a same-sex marriage law.
On Tuesday, the diocese also announced the retirement in March 2013 of Marc Mutty, director of public policy. Mutty has worked for the diocese for 28 years and was employed by Catholic Charities Maine before that.
“I have enjoyed serving the church for all these years and have found the work to be challenging but always personally rewarding,” Mutty said in the press release announcing his retirement. “It is, however, time for me to pursue new challenges and have more time available for family and friends. I know that I will be leaving the office in good and capable hands.”
Suzanne Lafreniere has been named associate director of public policy and will assume responsibility as director when Mutty retires, according to the press release.
“I am grateful to Marc for his many years of hard work and faithful service, especially as he promoted the Church’s teachings of justice by working to protect the dignity of the individual person at all stages of life and the common good of society,” Malone said in the press release.
The Office of Public Policy advocates for the church’s public policy positions before the Legislature and other civil officials, the press release noted. It represents the church in working with government to shape laws and policies that pursue social justice, respect for life and the common good by applying the principles of Catholic social teaching to critical issues of the day and encouraging citizen involvement in the legislative process.