(h/t to Dawn)
The recently released quarterly report for Stand For Marriage Maine showed not only how few Mainers are actually willing to donate their money or time to the “People’s Vote” referendum initiative (cough! 4 individual Maine donors, giving $100 each- TOTAL! cough!), but it also clearly laid out just how deeply the Roman Catholic Diocese in Portland has personally invested in the effort as well.
As a reminder:
Catholic organizations and anti-gay groups were the most noteworthy donors:
• National Organization for Marriage donated $160,000 in cash contributions and $9,066.43 in in-kind contributions;
• Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland donated $100,000 in cash contributions and $10,339.73 in in-kind contributions;
• Focus on the Family’s Maine Marriage Committee donated $31,000 in cash contributions and $2,594.62 in in-kind contributions;
• Knights of Columbus donated $50,000 in cash contributions;
• and Maine Family Policy Council donated $625 in cash contributions.
Catholic organizations outside Maine also made major donations to the campaign. Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Evansville in Indiana and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico donated $1,000 each.
Wow; sure does seem that these Catholic Churches, both in Maine and elsewhere, have a lot of extra money kicking around at their disposal, to be able to throw at SFMM and other similar efforts nationwide.
Discovering how the Chruch is using their money is not sitting well with some parishioners:
Jesse Connolly, campaign manger for Maine Freedom to Marry, said “it’s not a surprise” to see that Catholic organizations contributed money in favor of the “people’s veto.”
He noted that the public affairs official for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Marc Mutty, has taken leave to chair the campaign in opposition to the marriage law.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, an LGBT Catholic organization, said it’s important to note the distinction between Catholic leaders and parishioners.
“The funding that’s from the official church – that is being spent by the bishops who are not accountable to parishioners, many of whom are absolutely furious and appalled at the fact that their bishops are spending the money that these folks donate to help support their parishes [and] folks really who are underprivileged and who should be at the core of our concerns,” she said.
“To have that money be directed to campaigns to legitimize state-sponsored discrimination is something that most Catholics, when they’re made aware of it, find infuriating.”
Certainly we have seen that to be true here in Maine, as letter after letter after letter has been written to the local newspapers, regarding what many irate parishioners see as inappropriate and outrageous behavior by Bishop Malone and the Portland Diocese.
But… if the Portland Diocese has so much extra money on hand, why are they having to close schools and sell their churches?
More below.There have been recent cost-saving firings at the Trinity Catholic School as well as two Catholic parishes being closed, all in Lewiston. Trinity has been an established school for over 125 years; in fact, the history of Catholicism in Maine goes back aways, especially in the Lewiston area..
About 40 miles up the road from Lewiston, the beautiful St. Francis de Sales Church is for sale (photo above- Colby College in the background, btw)– and has been for almost 2 years now.
With the local economy as bad as it is, the site may well end up being more valuable as cleared potential for commercial development.
St. Francis de Sales church had its dedication in 1874, a century before skyrocketing energy costs, dependence on foreign oil and a declining Catholic population in the city. The Catholic faithful built the church with worship in mind first and foremost — and they built it large.
Now that church is for sale, and it’s a hard sell.
“Other than (selling it as) a church, it is not a very marketable (property),” said Facilities Manager Mike Hebert of Corpus Christi Parish. “We realize if somebody comes in with commercial ideas, the church probably would come down.”
That’s come down as in be demolished — reduced to rubble so that the valuable downtown land could be used to build a new, more commercially viable structure.
So let’s review. The Catholic Church in Maine has plenty of money to pay people from Michigan to collect signatures for the “People’s Veto”.
Yet the same Church has been in financial trouble for years, having to cut back drastically on its schools, parishes and churches.
Am I missing something really huge, regarding the priorities of the Catholic Church in Maine and its various affiliations and missions?
Each day 700 workers of Catholic Charities Maine interrupt their own journeys and come to the aid of the poor and vulnerable throughout the state of Maine. They see the faces of those suffering from mental illness, hurt and frightened children and families, those fallen victim to loneliness and isolation, those battling addictions, anxious refugees and many others who have been stripped and beaten by circumstance. All too often, our society passes on the opposite side of those who are suffering. As a result, many have slipped through the cracks and have been forgotten or ignored. Our workers lift them up and care for them.
Maine has vast regional differences in prosperity and has historically ranked lower than the national average in terms of income and earnings. Poverty among working adults has been increasing. At the start of the third millennium, over 16% of Maine’s children under eighteen were living in poverty, and many lack health insurance. We have our sign-laden homeless begging for help. More invisible, however, are those who, try though they may, cannot make it on their own. There are others whose circumstance or disability leads them to ask for help, a help they often seek only out of desperation. These are the marginalized, the poor, and the vulnerable who bless the workers of Catholic Charities Maine.
At the heart of Catholic Charities Maine is its mission statement. Our true riches are grounded in the social teachings of Jesus Christ as they unfold in the lives of our committed staff and our clients who bestow on us the gift of their presence.
In the Church’s social teaching we find a constant dedication to the poor and the disadvantaged. This ceaselessly invites the faith community to a commitment to overcome every form of exploitation and oppression. It is here that our treasure lies, empowering our mission and values to guide us in all we do.
The mission of Catholic Charities Maine is a mission as old as the Church itself. It is a mission that all are called to share.
In the Diocese of Portland, Catholic Charities Maine is only the most recent name applied to the Catholic Church’s works of mercy and social action. The Agency’s history demonstrates how the local church adapts to changing times and conditions, and highlights the many devoted individuals who carry out the work of compassion in season and out of season.
While by no means very knowledgeable about the Bible, I do see to remember one bit from Luke 6:31.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.