A Catholic diocese in New England is getting some publicity for appointing a priest to lead a program called “Courage” throughout Maine. Courage is a support group for Catholics to “Live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.”
From the Kennebec Journal:
The Rev. Kevin Martin, who serves St. Michael Parish in the Augusta area, will be the Catholic chaplain for the statewide Courage ministry. The new Maine chapter of Courage, a worldwide spiritual support group established in 1980, would practice anonymity and confidentiality.
"I want to be very clear: this is not the church imposing a certain view on people, but respecting their desire to come to us for support," Martin said Thursday at St. Augustine Church in Augusta. "It is not to force it upon anybody, but rather to say, 'We're here to support them.' "
Bishop Richard Malone said in a prepared statement Thursday that the group aims to help people "live in accordance with the church's teaching on homosexuality -- specifically that the dignity and identity of every person is not determined by their sexual attractions, but by their relationship with the Lord and their striving to live the virtues of faith, hope and charity."
The move to adopt Courage in the state comes just months before voters in Maine may be asked to approve a ballot measure legalizing same-sex marriage, a petition that failed two years ago. That campaign was divisive, and the Catholic Church in Maine was a vocal opponent of gay marriage. Now gearing up for another round, a former writer for the diocesan newspaper, Church World, has appealed to the church to stay on the sidelines during what promises to be another contentious campaign. William H. Slavick writes in the Portland Press Herald:
For certain, the Maine Church does not need another battering and huge drop in contributions.
Yet, neither before the Legislature approved same-sex marriages nor since the referendum has [Portland Bishop Richard] Malone moved to secure, outside of marriage, legal recognition of same-sex relationships needed to adjudicate offspring, hospital visitation, medical decisions and property rights. A committee formed after the referendum to develop a proposal, at a priest's request, gave up when a highly regarded attorney's draft wasn't accepted.
[Diocesan legislative lobbyist and campaign chair, Marc] Mutty's statement that he will not run another such campaign and Malone's silence in a new referendum year raise some hope that they recognize the cost of doing Benedict's bidding to be prohibitive, and the likelihood of defeat this time great, so they will sit this one out.
But Malone, like virtually all John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointees, chosen primarily for obeisance, has consistently done what pleases Benedict and the Vatican curia… So hopes should not rise until Malone's silence has extended into November. I won't be betting on it.