Many of us who have worked hard on bringing marriage equality back to Maine are still celebrating the victory we achieved on November 6th. Unlike the 2009 defeat, the anti-equality folks spent far less time and money fighting justice with injustice partly because they spent all that money three years ago.
One of the major players in the anti-equality effort has been the former Bishop and current Apostolic Administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and current Bishop of Buffalo, The Most Rev. Richard J. Malone.
Bishop Malone has some very clear thoughts on marriage equality: you can't vote for it and be a good Catholic. Here's a taste of Bishop Malone's reasoning:
“A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and church teaching cannot justify a vote for a candidate or referendum question that opposes the teachings of the church,” Malone said in the statement.Now, Bishop Malone and I share something in common: we've both been educated--in part--by the Jesuits. The Jesuits I studied with don't like to start with simply quoting the Catechism in forming an argument. The Jesuits I know have a little more savvy. But I digress.
This is what Bishop Malone is saying right before the election as, essentially, the erstwhile Ordinary of a Diocese which bankrupted itself fighting marriage equality.
And then, there's the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, (Episcopal) Bishop of Maine. His Grace has a lot of grace, and as a supporter of social justice and civil rights and the civil rights of LGBT persons in particular, he also understands that honest, thinking and caring Christians might actually disagree on marriage equality but is not afraid to remind Maine's Episcopalians that marriage equality IS in line with the teaching of the Episcopal Church and that we have a moral obligation to adopt the rites for the blessings of same sex marriages which the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the USA adopted earlier this year given that Maine now has marriage equality.
Here's some of what Bishop Lane had to say in a recent Pastoral Letter:
To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of MaineClassy. But, it gets better. Bishop Lane continues to remind Maine Episcopalians that he must work within the guidelines set forth by the national Church in Convention, and adds:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus,
On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, citizens of the State of Maine took the momentous step of voting to include same sex couples among those who may apply for civil marriage licenses. For many this decision was the achievement of long delayed justice for an oppressed minority and an appropriate extension of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to all citizens. For others the vote represented a fundamental change in long held beliefs brought about by the profound cultural shifts taking place in our country. As your Bishop, I rejoice in the greater inclusion of all our members in the full life of our communities. I also recognize and grieve the deep pain which significant change can cause. To each one of you, I offer my continuing affection and support.
Whenever an event produces strong feelings in us, it may be difficult to remember that that same event produces very different feelings in others. I ask those who rejoice in last Tuesday's decision to be gracious towards those who mourn. I ask those who mourn to refrain from bitterness and recrimination. Each of us is a child of God seeking to do what is right and a sinner for whom Christ died; and we are all brothers and sisters of one another.
I believe the pastoral generosity extended by the 2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church to dioceses in states where same sex marriage is legal applies to the Diocese of Maine, and I will consider changes to our guidelines in that light.His Grace concludes by saying that
I imagine that every generation believes it is living in a time of profound change. Whether or not history ultimately concurs with this assessment, I know the change of our time feels profound to us. The good news is that such change is among the means by which God works his purposes out. I firmly believe that God will use what we offer for good and that as we struggle to do what is right the Spirit of God is in our midst.I am a partisan in this fight. I am gay, I am engaged to be married, I am Anglican, and Bishop Lane is my Bishop and I am employed by a parish in his Diocese.
I am also a former Roman Catholic. And I have never looked back. GreenMountainBoy02 and I had the opportunity to thank Bishop Lane last week in person for his truly sensitive Pastoral Letter. Now I'm thanking him in public.