Kathleen Gilbert

Confusion as Maine bishop signals opposition to gay ‘marriage,’ but backs away from political fight

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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PORTLAND, Maine, March 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following the release of a pastoral letter some interpreted as backing away from Maine’s upcoming marriage fight, the office of Bishop Richard Malone of Portland has said that they plan to “promote the cause of defending marriage” regarding a ballot initiative this Fall. However, unlike in a similar 2009 battle, the diocese said it won’t take an active role in or contribute funds to the political effort to stop the redefinition of marriage.

Homosexual activists last month gathered enough signatures to place a redefinition of marriage on the 2012 general election ballot. The question will first be put to the Republican-controlled Legislature and Republican governor, who are expected to reject it, bringing the question before Maine voters.

Maine Today reports that gay rights advocates spent $5.8 million on the fight for marriage redefinition in 2009.

Malone elicited conflicting headlines in the media over the weekend when he issued a letter that emphasized the Catholic Church’s stance on marriage while announcing that the diocese would take a different approach to the push to redefine marriage than it did in 2009.

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“I feel compelled to teach and speak about marriage in the fullness of truth and in all charity,” wrote Malone, who called the ballot initiative “another attempt underway in Maine to redefine marriage” away from its true nature. The letter emphasized his “primary responsibility is that of teacher” as bishop, and the Church’s public function as a “prophet of the law,” noting, “The Church’s effort to promote and protect marriage in the public square is not a matter of forcing faith on anyone.” 

But media took notice this weekend when Bishop Malone said in a press conference that the diocese wouldn’t take special collections or otherwise join the political campaign to defend marriage, unlike in 2009, when the diocese played a significant role in a successful bid to reverse a new same-sex “marriage” law by voter referendum. Many called the new tack a softening of the diocese’s stance against marriage, a charge Malone’s office denies.

When asked about the change by CNN, Malone said that the diocese would still be “very involved” in the marriage fight but that the focus would be on education.

Suzanne Lafreniere, executive assistant for the diocese’s marriage office, told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that the diocese simply decided that active involvement “wouldn’t be the most effective use of the Catholic Church’s influence” in 2012. Asked why, she responded, “there’s no crystal ball, but in 2012 I don’t think it will be the exact same discourse.”

Brian Souchet, director of the Diocese of Portland’s Office for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, told LSN that the letter was not a response to the referendum, and would have been issued even without the political battle. “I think the Church always needs to speak out strongly for the truth [in terms of] entering dialogue,” he said, emphasizing that “nothing’s changed” in terms of Maine voters’ feelings on the marriage issue.

Souchet said the diocese’s 2009 involvement, which included soliciting donations from other dioceses and taking up a second collection for the cause, was “absolutely not” a mistake but that it would not take place again, citing the diocese’s recent financial struggles. Asked why collections wouldn’t be taken, he said, “I don’t think [Bishop Malone] believes we need to be doing that.”

Other sources pointed to the extreme political blowback from the Diocese of Portland’s 2009 involvement as possibly contributing to the new direction this year.

When an effort to overturn the state’s redefintion of marriage was placed on the ballot three years ago, gay rights activists portrayed its opposition as merely an arm of the Portland diocese, pointing to the extent of its financial contributions as well as the role of Marc Mutty, the diocese’s Director of Public Affairs who served as chair of the Yes on 1 campaign.

Mutty was later to turn on his own campaign, telling makers of a documentary last year that he “hate[d]” the work and regretted his role aiding the marriage initiative. “I’m not particularly fond of being remembered as the star bigot in Maine — the one who led the charge to deny gays and lesbians their fundamental rights — which is how it’ll be painted, I fear,” said Mutty, who remains with the diocese.

The diocese nonetheless maintains a strong relationship with marriage defenders in the state, and promised to work with the new ballot committee to offer assistance where needed.

Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, told LSN that his group maintains a “close personal friendship” with Bishop Malone. The Christian Civic League is behind the nascent ballot committee to defend the defintion of marriage in November.

“We would prefer they’d be involved in a formal relationship ... but we know how strongly [Bishop Malone] feels about this issue, and we know that he’ll engage Catholics effectively,” Conley said.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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