Saturday, 27 January 2007

more reactions to the adoption row

Simon Barrow has written on Commentisfree: Learning to love again. Church agencies are turning against their own message. ‘Defeat’ at the hands of equality legislation may be the best spiritual outcome for them.

An earlier statement on Religious Adoption Agencies by LGCM is here.

From the Independent Why I wish a non-religious agency had arranged my adoption.
Also Dominic Lawson wrote Don’t be fooled: the Catholic Church is not bluffing over gay adoption and there was also this leading article.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Compromise on gay adoption is still possible, say bishops and Andrew Pierce wrote Speaking as an adopted gay Catholic . .

The Tablet carries a feature article A love found wanting by Martin Reynolds, and carries an editorial, Need for compromise:

…The Government’s task, of which it is making heavy weather, is to balance the good of outlawing discrimination against homosexuals against the bad of seeing these excellent Catholic agencies close down. And they really would close: the bishops are bound by teachings and policies that are not theirs to change (and certainly will not be changed by this legislation). But most of what both sides want can be achieved by compromise. Gay couples will find plenty of agencies to welcome them, and the Catholic societies can continue with their good work in accordance with their consciences. So the battle boils down to the argument that to allow one exception, even on grounds of religious conviction, would undermine the new law as a whole. That is stretching the argument too far.

It is unwise for issues involving a genuine conflict of rights to be pushed to the point where there is total victory for one side and defeat for the other. But it would be well for the Catholic Church to recognise why its own position has become difficult to explain and defend. Its submission to Government makes reference to Catholic sexual ethics. Not long ago the Vatican published an ill-judged document that described the legal recognition of homosexual relationships as “the legislation of evil”. The Catholic Catechism says that Scripture describes homosexual acts as “grave depravity”. This is far removed from the temper of the times, and probably no longer even reflects what a majority of practising Catholics believe about homosexuals. Many of them have gay friends and gay relatives; Catholic mothers have gay sons. Some of the most devout are gay themselves…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 5:04pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

That's beautiful Martin Reynolds. Beautiful.

'..against which there is no law'.

Posted by: laurence on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 6:08pm GMT

When The Tablet editorial speaks of 'sides' and 'victory' as it does, it is forgetting the abondoned children.

Posted by: laurence on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 8:19pm GMT

Simon Barrows excellent essay concludes: "What is adoption," asks the Council of Frankfort (794 CE), "if not a union of love?"

It might be helpful to remind that in the year of grace 794 and well into the 20th century in some places, as John Boswell has shown, arrogatio or collateral adoption was the usual legal form for what we late-comers call civil partnerships.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 8:27pm GMT

"What nobody yet knows is whether a heterosexual youth brought up by two gay men will tend to suffer a different form of confusion."

Oh, come off it: Dominic Lawson is continuing to spread this ENTIRELY DISPROVEN *canard*.

Indeed, I wonder whether gay men can bring up the ONLY true, *healthy* male "heterosexual youth"---because they will be heterosexual, NOT by *default* (because the alternative is a fate worse than death), but because that's their genuine self-understanding.

[I'm kidding: plenty of opposite-sex couples CAN raise just as healthy straight sons---and a few actually ARE!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 8:37pm GMT

Simon, thanks for posting all these. I confess that part of me wants to stick it to the RCC, and to ++s Rowan and John. However, we do need to hear the whole debate. I would still rather the legislation pass than not, but I am a whole lot less certain.

Posted by: Weiwen on Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 12:36pm GMT

Simon, You might like to add this piece by Alan Storkey in the Church of England Newspaper:

"There has been a campaign to see gay parenting as natural and normal, but this is not the case biologically, socially or culturally. Gay couples do not produce children, and so gay parenting is not natural or normal. Heterosexual couples have no right to children, and so this is not a question of rights."

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 6:03pm GMT

But this is yesterday'sdebate, Dave, This argument was heard well over two years ago, and widely rejected.

Whilst I agree that bringing up children is primarily about responsibilities rather than rights, 'social and cultural' normality is ever fluid, and biological matters irrelevant in the case of adoption

I would say that people caring for, loving and nurturing others is perfectly natural and normal. I think gay people are just as capable of that as anyone else.

That case convinced, Dave - and yours didn't.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 11:31pm GMT

Alan and Dave are so right. Gay people so often end up looking after other people's abadoned children.

Our thanks to all of whatever sexuality who are moved to do this, with it would seem little thanks or recognition.

But then lesbians and gays take on many caring roles in our society. We seem to be kind of like immigrants -- unrecognised internal immigrants ---hoping we wont be turned away again.... this time....

Posted by: laurence on Monday, 29 January 2007 at 6:04am GMT

"Gay parenting is not natural or normal"

Well, firstly gay and lesbian people are capable of (and increasingly do) having children and are as capable of bringing them up as any one else. Funnily enough parenting skills aren't the exclusive preserve of heterosexuality.

Second, adoption itself isn't a biological thing; hence an infertile couple, a single person can adopt - the key thing isn't to pretend that the adopters are the real biological parents (the approach of the past) but to actually provide a home, stability and an extended family to people who otherwise wouldn't have it.

Obviously if we were in the business of making people believe that the adoptive parents were the real parents same sex adoption wouldn't be very effective but (in particular with older children) they know their adoptive parents aren't their biological ones.

Similarly there is now much more emphasis on people who are adopted having rights to know they were adopted and be able to contact the biological parents so the whole thing of adoption as being an operation whereby we pretend that the adoption didn't happen is really a model of the past that actually did a lot of harm.

Now some are seeking to resurrect that model in order to butress traditional theologies of the family.

We always need to come cack to this point which is now well embedded in public policy - the welfare of the child (not religious dogma) must at all times be paramount in our thinking when dealing with these issues.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 29 January 2007 at 1:37pm GMT

Let's not forget the many same-sex Benedictine monasteries throughout history who raised children left at their doors, a very serious departure from regular social arrangements and a clear example of social experimentation.

Adoption shows us something about the grace of God, God's union of love for another different from oneself, in this case at heart, of God's union with Creation, of Christ's union with the Church.

Parenting is never natural or normal, but requires a great deal of kenotic going out of oneself. Given the number of abusive heterosexual households, it's seems clear to me that straight parenting is never natural or normal either.

Posted by: *Christopher on Monday, 29 January 2007 at 4:11pm GMT

Two simple, actual facts have put the Catholic adoption agencies and gay/lesbian couples on a collision course: Hard to place children, and older foster children.

The record shows, Catholic agencies have a good record of placement and expert support which helps the placement endure. As it also happens, gay/lesbian couples have a similarly good track record with adopting older foster children who are so often unattractive to nice, idealized heterosexual parents who just want a cuddly baby that they can lovingly perceive as a soft-blanketed blank slate upon which to inscribe their parental fantasies (not much to do with the particular well-being of that child, in all that fantasy, but like all new parents, they will learn and the child will teach them).

All parents are enrolled in the school of hard knocks, whether they like it or not, and whether they can bring themselves to admit it or not.

Gay/lesbian couples also have a very good track record with adopting difficult to place special needs children, again children who are typically not all that attractive to idealizing straight couples, though the track record must be referenced clearly: some straight couples also do a heck of a good job adopting special needs, just as do their gay/lesbian counterparts.

Given this nexus of real world placement, combined with the best interest of both of these types of children - the special exemption for Catholics who wish to continue a condemning, hands off church policy towards gay/lesbian adoptive parents seems even sillier. What, again, is the point? Why is a special and categorical condemnation of these particular parents - these particularly good parents with older or special needs children? - so entirely crucial to Catholic dogma?

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 29 January 2007 at 4:37pm GMT

"As it also happens, gay/lesbian couples have a similarly good track record with adopting older foster children who are so often unattractive to nice, idealized heterosexual parents who just want a cuddly baby that they can lovingly perceive as a soft-blanketed blank slate upon which to inscribe their parental fantasies"

So true, drdanfee.

I happen to know a gay male couple who jumped to the head of the line to adopt a *white* male baby (the couple themselves are interracial---AND faithful Episcopalians!) . . .

. . . because the baby had a minor *correctable* birth defect (just not perfect enough for the opposite-sex couples, eh?)

Thanks be to God for these gay adopters AND all the children, "perfect" in God's eyes, whom they adopt! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 12:19am GMT

Dear Merseymike et al, I think that the legal enforcement of homosexual adoption is nothing to do with the best interests of children. It is about trying to enforce a new reality - where a partnership that could never naturally have children is turned into "parents" in the name of equality (with heterosexuality). It does not acknowledge biological or sociological reality, or respect the freedom of people to act according to their own conscience. It will add to the mess already caused over the last 50 years by liberal societal 'liberations'.

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 11:51pm GMT

ps I wonder why Martin thinks that Catholic or Christian teaching should be adjusted because of the "temper of the times" or "what a majority of practising Catholics/Christians believe" ? Christian's are followers of Christ, not the other way round... and certainly not of human society - which is described as fallen and condemned in Scripture!

"Beware when everyone speaks well of you"

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 11:57pm GMT

Trouble is, Dave, that your recipe would mean that the Christian faith existed separately from creation, and that the voice of God could not be heard except through one preferred medium. And as we know (this being the Wilberforce anniversary) the preferred medium seems so often to chime in with the 'status quo'. Indeed beware when all speak well of you... including Church members.

The 'ondemnation of human society'in Scripture (of which you speak) must logically apply to the Church and also to the products of the Church - including Scripture. Your call.....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 31 January 2007 at 1:17pm GMT

"Christian's are followers of Christ, not the other way round... and certainly not of human society"

Since when did that last bit become true? We have been followers of human society for the past 1700 years, and have not been in the least reluctant to compromise our principles when required to gain the approval of the ruling elite. It isn't right, but it's still going on.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 31 January 2007 at 1:34pm GMT
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