CNN's Kyra Phillips asked a Catholic bishop on Thursday "why not get on board" with dissenting Catholics who favor gay marriage. Given CNN's past support for LGBT causes, they clearly would not question the motives of a religious minister favoring gay marriage.
Phillips had cited a statistic saying 43 percent of American Catholics favor gay marriage. "So, Bishop, times are changing. Views are changing. You're changing your tactics even," Phillips said. "So, why not get on board with the 43 percent of Catholics?"
"Well their thinking is outside the realm of Catholic teaching for 2,000 years," Bishop Malone responded.
Phillips' interview with Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, was over the Catholic Church's new tactic concerning the state's referendum vote in November asking voters to approve same-sex marriage.
The bishop wanted to focus the resources of the diocese on educating Catholics about a "more profound" understanding of marriage between a man and a woman. But as he told Phillips, "let there be no confusion about the fact that the diocese and I will still be very involved in the effort to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
Phillips hyped the diocese's change in tactics as a "stunning move." She saw the opportunity to pop the question to the bishop, "Are you softening your stance on same-sex marriage?" To which Bishop Malone responded "Not at all. It will be even stronger and more vigorous."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 8 on Newsroom at 11:19 a.m. EST, is as follows:
KYRA PHILLIPS: Well, in the battle over same-sex marriage, a stunning move by the Catholic Church in Maine. The church says it will not actively campaign against a November referendum asking voters to approve gay marriage. Now, that stands in stark contrast with the church's position in 2009 when it waged a campaign to overturn a law passed that same year legalizing same-sex marriage.
Now, the gay activist group, Human Rights Campaign, says the church spent nearly $2 million in the fight to repeal that law. Joining us now, the bishop of Portland, Richard Malone. Bishop, thanks so much for being with me. You're not going to take an active role, from what I see here, in fundraising, staffing, advertising, or campaigning against the gay marriage referendum this time around. Why?
Bishop RICHARD MALONE, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine: Good morning, Kyra. Well, let there be no confusion about the fact that the diocese and I will still be very involved in the effort to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But we've decided this year that our best efforts can be to put our energies and resources into educating our Catholic community better about the very nature of marriage.
PHILLIPS: So, Bishop, let me ask me – ask you. You know, this plan of action has changed quite drastically since 2009, you know, where you had very active campaign. And now you're moving toward education and putting funds towards that. Are you softening your stance on same-sex marriage?
MALONE: Not at all. It will be even stronger and more vigorous. One of our discoveries in 2009 was that really, many of our Catholic people in Maine could use a bit more profound understanding of how the church has understood marriage for 2,000 years. So, I decided, while we will certainly be in close contact with our allies who will lead the political battle, we intend to focus on the education and formation of consciences of our people.
PHILLIPS: Now, let me ask you, Bishop, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, right now – this is a recent survey that was conducted – Catholics are more supportive of legal recognition of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and American overall. It reports 43 percent of Catholics nationally favor gay marriage. Is that why you're taking a different approach here?
MALONE: Well, you're on to something there, Kyra. To the extent that we can trust that those numbers are accurate – and that's always a question, of course – but that proves exactly the motivation for the approach that we're taking. We're taking no chances that our people will not have a really accurate understanding of what marriage is and to the impact on society should anyone try to change that definition of marriage.
PHILLIPS: So, Bishop, times are changing. Views are changing. You're changing your tactics even. Or your – I guess you say your strategy. So, why not get on board with the 43 percent of Catholics?
MALONE: The 43 percent who –
PHILLIPS: Who have no problem with gay marriage.
MALONE: Well their thinking is outside the realm of Catholic teaching for 2,000 years. And those are the folks that we want to focus on so they'll perhaps be able to have what I would call an intellectual conversion about a very key building-block of society, that is the nature of marriage as the union of one man, one woman.