Thinking Anglicans

adoption agency row: latest development

Updated Thursday daytime

Following the initial report by Gary Gibbon on Channel 4 News that:

After meeting Labour backbenchers, the programme understands that Mr Blair won’t now be pushing for Catholic adoption agencies to be allowed an exemption from the law which will require them to place children with gay couples.

Downing St said Mr Blair would be seeking a “pragmatic solution” to the matter.

He would look to find agreement on how long they would have to wind up their operations after new gay rights regulations came into force.

The proposals, which result from last year’s Equality Act, are reported have caused a split in the Cabinet.

Mr Blair and Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly – a prominent Catholic – favouring an exemption, and colleagues including the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, insisting that the rules should apply equally to everyone.

The regulations, being drafted by Ms Kelly’s Communities and Local Government department, must be approved by a vote of both Houses of Parliament before coming into effect.

other news sources have now confirmed this story:
Daily Mail Blair caves in over adoption laws

The Times Catholics get time to adjust to gay rights. Also this leader: Adopt a Compromise and this cartoon.

Guardian Cabinet rejects exemption on gay adoptions and this leader: Principle under pressure. And this comment by Madeleine Bunting Retreat on adoption and the Equality Act will crumble.
Stephen Bates has also written on this topic, both in the paper, The loving gay family and the archbishop next door and on Comment is free in Adopting the wrong attitude. Also, Two churches, one view and a question of conscience.

Telegraph Blair retreats over opt-out for gay adoption
Faith or career – the choice facing Kelly by Graeme Wilson and Jonathan Petre

BBC ‘No opt-out’ for Church adoption (has link to video report from last night’s TV news). There is also an audio clip from the Today programme here.

Independent Blair backs down over gay adoption law.

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Ford ElmsGöran Koch-SwahneChristopher ShellErika BakerFr Joseph O'Leary Recent comment authors
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Simon Sarmiento
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I am sorry the comments link for this article was inadvertently not opened when the article was published. It’s open now…

Simon Icke
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Simon Icke

Once again this atheistic Government ignores the majority view to appease the militant minority. The Sexual Orientation Regulations were never about gay rights, there was enough legislation already in place to protect people from being victims of ‘homophobia.’ (And there certainly was no evidence to support any real homophobia existed anyway, not from Christians in any case. However, Christianphobia certainly exists if recent media reporting is anything to go by). No, the real agenda from this Government is about turning this nation into a secularist state and it was convenient to use these SORs as the first major step in… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

I’ve heard of gay couples that sacrificially take on very difficult children. Maybe many children who have ended up in and institution *are* better off in a caring home with two parents of the same sex. But I’d be very surprised if it did not have some unwanted effects on the child’s development and self-image. After all, human children have for millenia generally grown-up in the male-female family model. That must have some consequences for the best environment for children. God/Nature certainly discriminate against gay partners by not allowing them to have children of their own! But now we are… Read more »

Richard Lyon
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Richard Lyon

There’s an obvious solution to this political stalemate. Tony Blair should be appointed Lord High Pooh Bah of the Falkland Islands and Rowan Williams sent along as his personal chaplain.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Looking at the Cardinal’s letter, I find much that should not have been defended: “We would, however, have a serious difficulty with the proposed Regulations on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services if they required our Adoption Agencies to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.” Does the Cardinal consider only validly married couples to be potential adoptive parents? — if not, then his position is inconsistent. “The Catholic Church utterly condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse directed against people who are homosexual.” The category of “just discrimination” however… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

{sigh}

This is just another case, where the secular values are MORE MORAL than the Churches’. What a great witness for Christ (not).

Oh well, thanks be to God ANYWAY, that the more-like-unto-Christ’s secular values triumphed: serving the best interests of the child, adoption for ANY qualified couple! 😀

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Dominic Lawson, The Independent, makes one good point in favour of the RC position: gay adoption is a very new thing, that savours of social experimentation. He notes that in Boston the Catholic adoption agencies gave kids to 13 gay couples, but then: “At this point the Vatican intervened, reminding Boston that Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had declared such legislation as the state of Massachusetts had enacted to be ‘the legalisation of evil’. Ratzinger is now Pope, and despite his age, an active one. I would not be surprised to learn… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Conservative Christians as ever, miss the point. First, we do not live in a theocracy Second, their opinions about gay and lesbian people and their relationships are no longer shared by the State Third, that the principle from which we operate is that people should not be discriminated against in the public sphere in terms of receiving goods and services. Their dislike or disapproval simply isn’t relevant. Fourth, they are not being told what to think or believe, but proper regulation will ensure that those beliefs, which are against public policy, will remain within church organisations alone, with the provision… Read more »

David Walker
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David Walker

I find Fr Joseph’s comments very helpful. I read them as pointing to an apparent contradiction between allowing couples who may be openly atheist to adopt through Catholic agencies but not same sex catholic couples. On the face of it the couple turned away are only contravening one aspect of catholic moral teaching whilst the couple who are accepted have rejected the whole package. As it stands though Fr Joseph’s analysis does leave some “wriggle room”. I can imagine the vatican taking the line that whilst the atheist couple are in theory capable of coming to Christ and then offering… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Simon Icke,

You had exactly this same post on an other site a couple of days ago.

You could at least have corrected the misspellings.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Fr Joseph quoted: ”… unjust discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse…”

It would be most interesting to hear what j u s t “discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse” are supposed to be.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

David Walker wrote: “(Indeed I have known it to happen that a family have adopted a catholic child and then become RC themselves.)”

“A catholic child”? and then “become RC themselves”?? Is the child “catholic” from the womb???

What kind of Biologism is this?

Perhaps it would be better to ban the whole adoption business, as 30% of Swedish adopted children believe best (upon experience).

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

“ABC: Exactly; and I think it’s important to say that neither the Cardinal nor the Anglican contributors to this debate are talking about the right of gay couples to adopt or wanting to block the legislation.”

I don’t know of any RC bishop who would say gay couples have a right to adopt, and I imagine if they did say so they’d be clobbered by Rome.

I suspect that the ABC and the Cardinal are arguing from slightly different premises.

AlaninLondon
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AlaninLondon

Dave – you write, “I’ve heard of gay couples that sacrificially take on very difficult children. Maybe many children who have ended up in an institution *are* better off in a caring home with two parents of the same sex. But I’d be very surprised if it did not have some unwanted effects on the child’s development and self-image”. There may be ‘unwanted effects’ you refer to but I would suggest they are far greater leaving children in institutions. Studies show that instituionalised children have far greater levels of criminality, self-harm, drug abuse and difficulty in forming relationships when they… Read more »

Erika
Guest
Erika

There may not be many cases of gay adoptions yet, but children have often lived in same sex environments: with mum and grandma, with parent and same-sex friend or, after a divorce, with a parent’s same sex partner. The many single parents bringing up children represent also, in their way, a single-sex environment. The challenge facing these families is to provide sufficient role models and adult friends of the other sex. This is particularly important for boys, not only in same sex families, because the whole nursery, pre-school and primary school education is largely provided by women, the first male… Read more »

Simon Icke
Guest
Simon Icke

Quote from Mersyside Mike: ‘I also wonder where contributors such as Simon Icke think right-wing Christian voters should turn. Not the LD’s or the Greens. Not the Tories either – Cameron has said he does not agree with an exemption. I think there is one party which might well fulfil their requirements, and would take exactly the same line on both race and sexuality. At least that is consistent!’ Sorry Mike, I don’t like your ‘cheap shot’ insinuating that all those oppose SOR will have to vote BNP. Even if you didn’t actually mention BNP it was clearly implied. I… Read more »

IT
Guest
IT

Studies have shown that kids growing up in gay households have no difference from kids who don’t except that perhaps they are just a bit more tolerant of others.

Preventing gay adoptions does not block gay parenting. Lot of us are parenting biological kids, or finding other ways to make our families complete.

If the Catholics want to discriminate, fine. THey just don’t use State money to do it.

Dave
Guest
Dave

AlaninLondon wrote: “There may be ‘unwanted effects’ you refer to but I would suggest they are far greater leaving children in institutions…. How can it be in the ‘best interest’ of these children (which should be our sole priority) to exclude a whole swathe of potential adoptees because of the Roman Catholic Church’s difficulty with homosexuality? There is a desparate shortage of adoptees particularly for older children with more complex emotional and physical needs. The ‘unwanted effects’ you refer to are far outwayed by the effects that continued institutionalisation potentially bring about in these children.” Dear Alan, I don’t think… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Erika wrote: “Bullying at school is a potential problem, but one that has to be laid squarely at the feet of the bully and those in our society that who agree that, somehow, same sex families are inferior.” Dear Erika, I sympathise with your situation. I have friends who are single mums struggling bravely to bring up their children in very difficult situations – socially economically and personal relationship wise. However, that doesn’t mean that the single parent families *situation* is equally good to that of the families of married people. Quite the opposite – it shows how inferior the… Read more »

Erika
Guest
Erika

No, Dave, I”m not suggesting that if “you” don’t affirm gays then “you” are to blame instead of accepting responsibility for the consequences of the government’s actions. I was very fortunate, I had my children within the confines of a traditional middle class marriage. Nothing to do with the government! They weren’t bullied while they lived with me and my husband, and I hope their friends will protect them from being bullied now that they live with me and my female partner. Whatever you may think of the rights and wrongs of my personal life, surely you can’t believe it’s… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

It would be most interesting to hear what j u s t “discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse” are supposed to be. Goran, the Church condemns “unjust discrimination” + “violence” + “harassment” + “abuse”. Why confuse the issue? There has been much debate and controversy about the implicit recognition of “just discrimination”. But let’s try to avoid exaggeration, for it ultimately weakens our argument. Generally, I think the attitude of the PC government of the UK today shows little understanding of the delicacy of conscience, and of course the UK Government is up to its neck in very unconscionable activities connected… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The bully is to blame for his/her bullying, not the person chosen for the bullying.

So are those who taught the bully to bully, as well as those who provide him/her with ideological pretexts (this includes “pre-texts” ;=)

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Erika- Great, but that was not my point. My point was: if homosexuality and so-caled heterosexuality are treated as moral and biological equivalents, neither being better than the other, then practically speaking it is unlikely to be possible to apply this principle in some cases and not others; one is therefore left with the options of all cases or no cases. (As they say – correctly – give an inch, and people will take a mile. Or as it used to be, an ell.) A positive outcome in some cases is inevitable, as no-one denies. But the real world… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

OK, O’Leary, I try again.

It would be most interesting to hear what j u s t discrimination is supposed to be.

Erika
Guest
Erika

Christopher, did I understand you correctly? Were you implying that a stable, loving, equal adult homosexual partnership can be equated to exploitative, unequal, often violent and illegal (!) incest?
Erika

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Chris, didn’t the climate which produced those beguiling innovations you so dislike also see the rise of things like anti-racism, the end of domestic violence as an acceptable expression of male domination and the rest? Aren’t you doing the Daily Mail thing of seeing in the 60’s the negation of everything you stand for? Or do you want to go back to the Saturday Night wife-beating culture of the 50’s?

It’s not so simple as you would like eveyone to believe, is it?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

First he beat the children to get in the mood, then he raped their mum.

Next morning he made them all go to church and “behave”.

;=)

I don’t think it was quite that bad over here, though.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

OK, Christopher, you probably haven’t had the time to reply to my earlier question, so I shall answer your mail, hoping you will credit me with higher moral standards than those of an abusive instigator of incestuous “relationships”. You say that once one treats homosexual and heterosexual relationships as equal it will be impossible to apply this principle in some cases and not others. But is it not true that adoption agencies are already very discriminating? They are very able to apply the principle of “suitable parents” to some heterosexual couples and not to others. I trust their professional judgement… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Hang on, Christopher! Am I unusualy dim, or are you saying that a situation in which the majority of relationships are abusive and exploitative (incest) is to be taken as a paradigm for assessing one in which the majority of relationships (adult, consensual, committed – and thus excluding ‘one night stands, but hetero and homo and all shades inbetween) are vehicles of love and grace? This seems perverse. Your argument starts with the a priori that there is a default setting in all homosexual relationships which is ‘bad’. That is the issue on which we disagree, and you can’t camouflage… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

“Just discrimination” is of course a flexible category. It would be claimed to cover schools that refused to take kids adopted by gay parents (on the grounds, for instance, that the child would be ill at ease in an environment lacking in understanding of her situation), or to hire teachers who would teach views against church teaching on homosexuality. Again “just discrimination” would be invoked in defence of the recent Vatican document refusing gays entrance to seminaries (comparable to the US discrimination against gays in military recruitment). You may disagree with the concrete reasons for discrimination in all these cases,… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Fr Joseph O’Leary wrote: “You may disagree with the concrete reasons for discrimination in all these cases, but it is not clear that there is no place at all for the category of “just discrimination”.“ I’m not so sure about that. The reason I asked was precisely that we don’t (and cannot) use “just” in this manner in Swedish. It’s not thinkable. “Unjust” may only refer to (relative) trifles, such as a (numerical) division of sweets among children, for example. 3 each – or 9 to the favourite child and none for the others? That would be ”unjust”, but hardly… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

But the problem is with the word “discrimination” — if it always has an unrighteous meaning then of course “just discrimination” is an oxymoron and “unjust discrimination” is a pleonasm.

I think it is deplorable that the churches, instead of being a powerful social voice in the spirit of William Temple, once again find themselves batting at the sticky wicket of “holding the line against gays”. There must be more to the Christian social conscience than this.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

So when we say just discrimination we really mean discernment?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

It may be argued that The Christian Social Conscience is a 19th century construct to say: We’re really not just a hierarchy into power-play, you know.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Erika- Yikes! I hope I have been advocating a ‘more differentiated’ outlook for half a lifetime already. ‘Nuance’ is (as you will see in many of my posts) my middle name – or that is the aim anyway. Remember that the way the ‘battle lines’ are conventionally drawn is not necessarily between the two main academic options; it can often be instead between instinct on the one hand and reason on the other. We live, after all, in an age which claims that all views deserve a hearing, and people ahve the right to hold them whether or not… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I’m sorry Christopher, but which part of this was “nuance”?

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“We live, after all, in an age which claims that all views deserve a hearing, and people ahve the right to hold them whether or not they are supported by argument. How one defends that view, I don’t know.” Defence #1. If you wish to believe something, whether or not it is supported by fact, you are free to do so. You cannot be forced to change your mind, though someone who refuses to change his mind despite overwhelming evidence the he is wrong could be called an idiot. All are free to be idiots. Defence #2. Religion cannot be… Read more »