AUGUSTA — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland canceled a
state lawmaker’s talk on prescription drugs for the elderly here after learning
from his opponent that he is pro-choice on abortion.
State Rep. Arthur L. Lerman, D-Augusta, said he had been invited to address
a lady’s guild meeting Tuesday at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church
by guild leader Claire Poulin, who had seen him make a similar presentation
at another forum for the elderly.
But that invitation was abruptly canceled Monday after Lerman’s opponent in
the race for House District 57, Republican Michael G. Hein, complained to diocese
officials that Lerman’s appearance violated Bishop Richard J. Malone’s ban
on pro-choice candidates in his churches.
Lerman is a one-term Democratic who represents House District 57.
"I did get uninvited. I got a call from Mrs. Poulin," Lerman
said Tuesday. "We had set it up for today, and she called last night and
said it had become very political and she requested that I not be at the meeting
This line of answer is becoming more common. Whenever a politician’s
view is held to the fire they complain that this has become political.
Diocese spokeswoman Sue Bernard said Malone recently issued an
edict that candidates or other supporters of abortion rights be denied access
to church facilities, reflecting U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops policy.
I wonder if she actually used the word edict or if the reporter
editorialized her statement.
Bernard confirmed that diocese officials had ordered the pastor at St. Mary’s
Church to cancel the women’s guild meeting rather than allow Lerman to speak.
She said she knew of no other instance in Maine in which diocesan officials
prevented pro-choice candidates from appearing at Catholic facilities.
What the article does not mention is the fact that this policy
is not just the policy of the local Bishop but is in fact the policy of the
USCCB as issued
at their last meeting. The lack of other diocese of not doing the same
thing is not indictment of this action, but actually shame for other diocese
not following the policy.