Earlier this week, we shared the news of a new pastoral letter about marriage by Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, and a new marriage website connected with the letter: www.beautyofmarriage.org.
Unfortunately, Bishop Malone’s approach to the current debate in Maine about the meaning of marriage has been widely misunderstood. Many media sources are interpreting the fact that the diocese of Portland will not be contributing financially to the referendum process underway as a sign of “retreat” or “backing down” on the question of marriage. But according to Bishop Malone, this is far from accurate.
Case in point: on Thursday, Bishop Malone was interviewed over the phone by CNN. During the interview, Bishop Malone asserted that the diocese’s approach to the marriage referendum is in no way a “retreat” from protecting marriage:
“Let there be no confusion about the fact that the diocese and I will still be very involved in the effort to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But we’ve decided this year that our best efforts can be to put our energies and resources into education our Catholic community better about the very nature of marriage.”
Later in the interview, in response to the question whether he was “softening” his stance on marriage redefinition, the Bishop said: “Not at all. It will be even stronger and more vigorous.” Continuing, he explained,
“One of our discoveries in 2009 was that really, many of our Catholic people in Maine could use a bit more profound understanding of how the Church has understood marriage for 2,000 years. So, I decided, while we will certainly be in close contact with our allies who will lead the political battle, we intend to focus on the education and formation of consciences of our people.”
The interviewer then pointed out that recent polls have indicated that many Catholics nationwide support marriage redefinition. She asked whether this factor influenced Bishop Malone’s strategy. He responded that to the extent that the numbers can be trusted, the polls “prove exactly the motivation for the approach that we’re taking. We’re taking no chances that our people will not have a really accurate understanding of what marriage is and to the impact on society should anyone try to challenge that definition of marriage.”
Finally, to the interviewer’s question of why the Bishop doesn’t just “get on board” with the Catholics who support redefining marriage, Bishop Malone said,
“Well, their thinking is outside the realm of Catholic teaching for 2,000 years. And those are the folks that we want to focus on so they’ll perhaps be able to have what I would call an intellectual conversion about a very key building block of society, that is the nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Read the entire transcript of the CNN interview with Bishop Malone on the Beauty of Marriage website (under Blog).
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