The recent article concerning the Roman Catholic Church’s recall of funding from Preble Street’s Homeless Justice program would be laughable if it weren’t so sad and hypocritical (“Diocese penalizes homeless aid group,” March 24).

Sue Bernard, the spokeswoman for the Diocese of Portland, states that funding was withdrawn because the Diocese “requires agencies that receive funding to conform to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Let’s see, which “moral and social teachings” is Ms. Bernard referring to? Could these teachings be the ones that show (by deed) that it’s not only acceptable for a Catholic priest to sexually assault children; it’s permissible for the hierarchy to hide these priests, cover up the crimes, blame the victims and refuse to acknowledge that the Church has a worldwide and serious problem with this issue? Recent revelations in Germany appear to point to papal complicity as well.

Mark Swann, Preble Street’s executive director, is correct when he states that punishing the program by “demanding the return of much-needed funds because of Preble Street’s advocacy around issues of social justice is deeply troubling.”

The Catholic Church does not occupy any moral high ground around these issues. The Catholic Church will not occupy any moral high ground until such time as it is completely honest with the public about the identities of the abusing priests, the extent of the abuse, the expulsion of these predators from the priesthood and the total cooperation with the criminal justice system. There is no other path to redemption available.

Until such time as the Catholic Church is willing to accept total responsibility and provide total accountability, citizens should ignore these actions and statements, deny funding to the church and boycott Mass.

And, most important, citizens should keep their kids away from priests.

Richard Townsend

Portland

I found a copy (online) of the actual letter the Council of Catholic Bishops sent to the Preble Street Shelter on Jan. 27 demanding the return of their donation. At the bottom of their stationary, in both English and Spanish, is this incredibly hypocritical statement, “The Catholic Church Working to End Poverty and Injustice in the United States.”

Really? How? demanding an immediate return of funds from a homeless shelter? How many children will be turned away to sleep on the streets because of this decision? Why do any Catholics give money to this hateful organization? For shame.

Nat Parkinson

Monmouth

I am not a Roman Catholic. I am not part of the Diocese of Portland. Bishop Richard Malone is not my bishop.

I am, however, deeply offended by the attack on the bishop, the diocese and the Roman Catholic Church in your front-page story denouncing the cessation of a grant to Homeless Voices for Justice.

According to your own story, the organization supports affordable housing and the prevention of violence against the homeless.

Roman Catholics around the state contributed to special offerings believing that their money would go toward those ends.

According to your own story, Preble Street specifically stated that it did not promote or advocate same-sex marriage, and that it would conform to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.

One of its subsidiaries, a beneficiary of the diocese’s money, helped to spend it on something else, something directly contrary to the teachings of the Church, the intentions of the donors, its signed statement and its given word.

Bishop Malone’s action was not “petty vindictiveness,” but a deliberate choice to direct resources to agencies that would administer them with honesty and integrity, qualities obviously lacking in Homeless Voices for Justice.

Let’s try a thought experiment. I’m the pastor of a church in Sanford that attempts to help the needy of our community through donations of food and financial assistance. That aid comes from the gifts of my parishioners and community businesses.

Suppose it were learned that I had taken money and food and used it to support the Yes on 1 Campaign last fall. Suppose that some local business decided it would no longer contribute to our church.

Would the Press Herald then denounce that business for penalizing the needy of Sanford?

The article was hypocritical, slanted propaganda, unworthy to be called journalism. I hope to see better from you in the future.

Rev. John Clifton

Church of the Prince of Peace

Sanford

It is with real despair that I read the article on March 24 in the Press Herald regarding the revoking of both the national and the local diocese’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds from the Homeless Voices for Justice program in Portland.

As a practicing Catholic I am appalled and saddened that the Catholic Church has rescinded its funds simply because its parent organization, Preble Street Resource Center, joined a coalition that opposed Question 1 in November.

The work at HVJ has shown that “issues around sexual orientation are the single greatest cause of homelessness in youth.” The Preble Street Resource Center and the Catholic Church, both advocates for the most vulnerable in our society, can agree on many issues, except, it appears, when it comes to serving those who are gay.

In Paragraph 3 of the Eligibility Criteria for CCHD Funding, it asks: “Is your organization supporting, promoting or advocating for other forms of relationships such as bisexual or homosexual/lesbian lifestyles or same-sex marriages?”

My reading of this is that the Church could potentially take its fight against same-sex marriage to a new level by actively withholding funds from any group that advocates or supports those who are in gay relationships. As both a Catholic and an American citizen this strikes me as inherently discriminatory and is a cause for great concern.

I believe the Church will eventually lose the battle over state-sanctioned gay marriage — this is seen by far too many (and now in the courts) as a civil rights issue. But the Catholic Church regards same-sex marriage as a slippery slope towards its real fear, the full acceptance of those who are homosexual/lesbian/bi-sexual or transgendered.

I believe that science and societal mores have shown that the Church is on the wrong side of this issue and must do some real soul-searching to realign itself with Jesus’ teachings of compassion and tolerance.

Katharine R. Johnson

Cape Elizabeth

 

When the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland withdrew funding from the Homeless Voices for Justice over a political disagreement regarding same-sex marriage, it seemed to be practicing what I would call “selective punishment.”

Consider this: On the subject of abortion, virtually every pro-life legislator, whether at the state or national level, allows exceptions to anti-abortion proposals usually stated as “except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.”

Indeed, most caring and sensitive people would agree. supporting such proposals or political party planks, Catholic legislators are implicitly supporting those exceptions.

However, the current official Catholic doctrine on abortion (sections 2270-2275 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church) condemns all abortions and allows absolutely no exceptions under any circumstances whatsoever.

So, the question arises: Why did Bishop Richard Malone withdraw funding from a group he believes violates official Catholic law on same-sex marriage, yet remain silent, along with other Church leaders across the nation, about Catholic pro-life legislators who also violate the spirit and letter of Catholic law on abortion?

This seems to be selective punishment, or, perhaps, just plain old hypocrisy.

Vincent Faherty

Cape Elizabeth

 

Although it saddens us that the Catholic Church has withdrawn its funding for The Homeless Voices for Justice, supported by Preble Street staffing, because of Preble Street’s support of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, we are thankful to the Catholic Church and Bishop Richard Malone for two reasons:

1) It spurred us to finally make a donation to Preble Street and the Homeless Voices for Justice that we have contemplated, but delayed, for far too long; and, 2) It once again affirmed our decision to be former Catholics.

Our check was mailed this morning and we hope that we join many others in supporting this very worthwhile organization.

Bill and Phyllis Boyle

Westbrook

Concerning the revocation of funds by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to the Preble Street Homeless Voices for Justice Program, one can always count on the institutional Roman Catholic Church to cast the first stone and the last.

The Church, in pondering why its flock is diminishing, need only look at decisions such as the above for the answer to that question. When legalistic splitting of hairs trumps charity, you know something is wrong.

Nicole d’Entremont

Peaks Island

 

Bishop Richard Malone picked the wrong day to publicly call to account Preble Street’s “transgression” against his church’s policy regarding same-sex marriage: the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Oscar Romero was one of the great heroes of the Roman Catholic Church, a fearless advocate for the poor and marginalized, a man of vision, stature, and resolve.

It is a sad day indeed when the headlines and news items about the Church are about such neurotic preoccupations rather than about some good work that expresses the true values of the Gospel message.

Jean Sheridan

Yarmouth

What columnist calls ‘hate’ is people exercising rights

 

One of the most disturbing opinion pieces I’ve seen recently came from columnist Leigh Donaldson.

In that column (“Hate-based organizations give free speech a bad name,” March 15), Mr. Donaldson says we should be concerned about “hate groups or organizations” identified by the left-wing legal and activist organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Along with the “criminal acts” he says such groups are involved in, Donaldson hints that we should also be concerned about their other hateful activities, such as “marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting and publishing.”

So what exactly does Mr. Donaldson mean by his threatening closing statement, “the line must be drawn” in regards to such organizations and their activities?

If you use the SPLC litmus test for hate groups and go back over a hundred years, I believe that various groups of people labeled “abolitionists” (who wanted to end slavery) would fall into that category.

Where would Mr. Donaldson be today if not for the efforts of those “hate groups”?

Ted Sirois

Saco