Regarding the Catholic Diocese’s choice to revoke funds to Preble Street: I grew up Catholic, and I am now very happy to say I attend a much more open, affirming church!

Punishing the homeless shelter as a way to enforce church beliefs really shows the separation between “letter of the law” and “spirit of the law.” I would normally think a church belief would stick closer to the spirit, but perhaps this is one more expression of their spiritual crisis — along with the ongoing issues of sexual abuse within the church.

I am grateful to now be a part of a congregation that believes social justice means helping the homeless and supporting gay rights.

Perhaps the church withdrew the funding because it will now need to funnel the money toward its own legal defense fund.

William Whelan

Freeport

No, the Catholic Diocese of Portland and the U.S. Bishops’ Campaign for Human Development were not “well within (their) rights to pull funding” (Our Views, March 26).

Homeless Voices for Justice is a separate organization, not a Preble Street program; Preble Street is, as it regularly pointed out in grant applications and did again when challenged, only the financial agent for HVJ. That distinction should have allayed CHD and diocesan concerns.

Moreover, Preble Street did not “approve or advocate same-sex marriage.” It supported affirmation of the state’s recognition and regulation of same-sex relationships — as it does divorces. The Catholic hierarchy opposes divorce but does not challenge its regulation, recognizing that to be the state’s proper responsibility.

Irrational opposition to the Marriage Equality Act is the key. The Vatican sees same-sex unions as sinful and the new threat to its sex-obsessed patriarchal authority. Mustering Catholic opposition is a means of reasserting badly eroded dominion.

Doing so obliged Bishop Richard Malone to ignore both Vatican II’s espousal of separation of church and state and religious liberty. Legal regulation of same-sex relations is the state’s business; marriage criteria are a religious liberty.

Moreover, Vatican II defines primacy of conscience as following what one “knows to be right and just,” not what Bishop Malone tells you to do, as he claimed. The campaign also imported California sleaze and fear.

But why come down on Portland’s homeless? Certainly, anger at Preble Street’s presumed effrontery, but more in response to the self-appointed morality police who joined the fraudulent “expose” of ACORN, prompting the Campaign for Human Development to defund it, contributing to its demise.

Keeping right-wing contributors trumps justice to ACORN and Homeless Voices for Justice. So Maine’s poor, worthy for 13 years, will be denied $33,000 annually.

Ursula Lukas Slavick

Portland

I read the Press Herald’s March 23 article “Diocese penalizes homeless aid group” with nothing less than disgust and shame. For me, this was the last straw in the long string of morally and ethically reprehensible acts and decisions by local and world so-called Catholic leadership.

In the last weeks, articles have appeared about the expulsion of a child from Catholic school for having gay parents, fears about the number of U.S. annulments and the ensuing call for an increased refusal of sacraments, and the continued failures in dealing with sexual abuse within the church. Now we hear about the bishop’s punishing the homeless for nothing except pure political reasons.

At what point will Catholics say “Enough”? Jesus wouldn’t be supportive of all the exclusion, vengeance or secrets and lies within the church today. He wouldn’t have said, “There’s no room at the table for you” or “I don’t associate with your type.”

My personal Catholic faith isn’t one that rejects or penalizes others. It calls for a selfless and sacrificial love.

My Catholicism is a way of living out the Gospel of Christ among God’s people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, social class or life situation.

I want my church to reflect the compassion and charity of God. “Love one another as I have loved you” is a commandment, not a suggestion — and it’s not just for the people in the pews.

Jennifer A. Jordan

South Portland

Meaning of ‘dissent’ altered after the election of Obama 

I have been reading letters and editorials about the lack of civility in political discourse these days. People are upset, even “frightened” by the tone of the tea partiers and others who disagree with President Obama’s agenda and policies.

Gee, I thought that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Oh, but that was when George Bush was in office.

Movies advocating his assassination and not-so-funny comedians looking for “snipers” were patriotic dissent. Rallies burning him in effigy were patriotic dissent. Calling him a liar was patriotic dissent.

Impugning his motives, his personality, his intelligence and his origins and demonizing his advisers and policies was patriotic dissent. Any level of vitriol, including violence, was justified as patriotic dissent.

Hmmm. “Patriotic dissent” seems to have taken on Orwellian meanings. The left is expert at this sort of distorted political speech.

As I see it, current levels of patriotic dissent are measured and reasonable in comparison to the demagoguery, past and present, of the left.

Dianne McGill

Naples

Obama acted underhandedly to win vote on health care 

President Obama pulled a blatant maneuver when he told Rep. Bart Stupak that if he voted for the health reform bill, Obama would give him anything he wanted.

Rep. Stupak should have known better, but he believed the president could do anything.

President Obama did not have it in his power to uphold an executive ban on federal funding for abortion.

Shame on him! The whole reform bill should be overturned.

Marie C. Brown

Falmouth