Friday, 20 August 2010

more comment on the adoption agency case

Updated again Tuesday afternoon

Adam Wagner has written at the UK Human Rights Blog that the Catholic Care gay adoption rejection boosts equality protection.

The Charity Commission has rejected a bid by a Catholic organisation to amend its charitable objects in order to restrict its adoption services to heterosexuals. The case highlights the significant protections which have been put in place by recent equality law, and the policing role which the Charity Commission is required to play from a human rights perspective…

Martin Pendergast has written at Cif belief that the Catholic gay adoption ruling is a victory for vulnerable children

Neither the pope nor the bishop of Leeds are likely to go as far as Cardinal Sandoval, the Mexican who this week accused civic authorities of bribing the courts. But they will not be at all happy about the charity commission’s rejection of Leeds-based Catholic Care’s application to restrict adoption to heterosexual couples. Lesbian and gay Catholics and many other members of the church will be delighted that this attempt to institutionalise discrimination has been defeated.

Altering charitable objects to avoid compliance with legislation was deeply offensive to many Catholics, and not just lesbian and gay people. Catholic values dictate that a childcare service should do its utmost to find loving homes for the children it exists to serve. If a majority of other Catholic childcare agencies in England and Wales found it possible to comply with the law, why not Leeds? Other agencies lost neither financial nor moral support from their Catholic populations. There was never any evidence that Catholic Care would be any different…

Virginia Ironside has written in the Independent The Catholic Church should stay out of the gay adoption debate.

Sunday update

Paul Vallely has written in the Independent on Sunday Talking over the heads of children.

The Roman Catholic Church and the equality lobby are both wrong: the rights of would-be adopters do not come first.

Monday update

Neil Addison Catholic Care An attack on the idea of Charity

…Also the Commission has dealt a blow to the idea of Charity itself which is the free giving by individuals and organisations to help others. If the Catholic Church (or any other organisation or individual) wants to spend its own money in any way it pleases to help others why should an unelected quango, or indeed an elected Government interfere ? If individuals want to give money to adoption services that serve only heterosexuals, or adoption services for homosexuals, or disabled people or black or white people what right does the government have to interfere with that choice?

The provision of adoption services is a good thing in itself and a charitable purpose and for that reason alone should surely have been permitted even if the Commission felt that the services were provided on too limited a basis. The Commission seems to have regarded Charitable status as a favour granted by itself rather than as a good thing to be encouraged. This decision by the Charity Commission has, quite rightly been criticised as an attack on religious freedom but I would go further it is an attack on freedom itself. If individuals, churches and organisations do not even have the right to choose how to give away their own money then freedom itself ceases to exist.

Tuesday Update

Third Sector reports that Catholic Care considers appeal against Charity Commission over gay adoption

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 August 2010 at 2:30pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

Following on from your previous piece, I imagine that the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, will be one of the usual suspects falling over themselves in the rush to claim that the Charity Commission's determination in the Catholic Care case reflects the desire of the 'western elites' to impose its allegedly 'pro-gay' views on others. Much high-flown rhetoric will no doubt come our way.

So, whilst I do appreciate that I may be lowering the tone somewhat by mentioning money, it's important to bear in mind that the generality of taxpayers, as a whole, foot the bill for the various tax exemptions conferred by charitable status, just as the electorate, as a whole, determines who will write the legislation on this and other matters.

Rowan Williams has no power to force the Charity Commission to rubber-stamp anything which might make his life easier, just as he has no power to force Parliament to enact legislation amenable to Orombi and his allies.

About all he is left with is getting a grip on the fact that, if he wants the Church to keep on enjoying the benefits of charitable status, and the generality of taxpayers to carry on footing the bill, he will have to comply with both statute and case-law; time was when fudging these issues was possible, but those times have gone...

Posted by: chenier1 on Friday, 20 August 2010 at 4:44pm BST

"Because the more the fuss the Church makes about gayness, a subject we should all be able to take for granted in an equal society, the more outdated, muddled and arcane the church appears."

- Virginia Ironside, The Independent on Sunday -

Related to the Catholic Adoption Agency dispute, this remark by a secular journalist is indicative of most people's attitude towards the Churches' pronouncements against gays and women.

The more public the squabbles about homosexuality become, the less the person in the street is inclined to take the mission of the Church - especially in its emphasis on human justice issues - seriously.

The idea that a monogamous homosexual couple - whether male or female - would consider the trouble and expense involved in the process of adoption, with the notion of abusing the child - or indoctrinating the child into a homosexual *lifestyle* is quite ridiculous. What is at issue here is the fact that human love can prompt gays as well as heterosexual couples to want to act as parents to children who otherwise might have to endure an institutional upbringing. Why does the Church continue to ghetto-ise the concept of loving relationships among same-sex couples?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 9:28am BST

It is striking that children receive little or no mention in this regard (or when the RC denomination speaks of child sexual abuse by church workers.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 12:02pm BST

""We are a church affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, and it is their policy that we don't provide services to individuals or families that do not behave properly. We're going off our canons that say 'The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord's teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong of one man and one woman," said Kenneth Monk, head of the school."

- excerpt from 'virtueonline" -

Thsi statement from the US site which refers to the non-admission of a child to an 'Anglican' school on the grounds of her parents' lesbian civil-partnership; champions ACNA's stand on homosexuality and same-sex relationships (as they apply to child adoption and education principles in the US). This shows just how far the ACNA Church authorities are prepared to go to uphold their anti-gay stance in North America.

The real problem with this is in ACNA's pretence at representing 'orthodox Anglicanism' in the USA and Canada. And the longer the Church of England dallies with the possibility of identifying with this schismatic sect of Anglicanism in North America, the more confusing it will be for the general public there to differentiate between the real 'orthodox' Anglicans of TEC; and the likes of ACI, ACNA, and the 'virtueonline' pretenders.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 12:45pm BST

Paul Vallely reads this wrongly because he starts in the wrong place.

Adoptions aren't contracted by bishops and/or civil rights groups.

Those at the cutting edge of this process are the highly skilled social workers who do in depth studies of the applicant - the social workers who know the children and the applicants.

Before December 30 2005 - for the most part - those at the cutting edge were left very much to their own devices, including gay adopters prepared by Catholic agencies. But after that date unmarried couples were able to jointly adopt and Catholic charities were forced to address this.Up to that point most (possibly all) had been recruiting and preparing gay and straight singles and gay and straight unmarried couples - the social workers detailed report needed to focus on just one person whose name would be on the adoption papers. When it was needed the details of relationships were blurred if the approval panel was known to be hostile - but mostly that was not necessary if all believed the couple offered a loving home within which a child would flourish. So Roman Catholic agencies have been supporting adoptions in same sex households for decades.

With joint adoptions the RC agencies had to face the prospect of being seen to support unmarried couples straight and gay making a family unit.
While straight and gay singles and unmarried straight couples continued to get support - officially gay couples were out.

That was the point where govt legislation - made in the best interests of the child - brought the approval process to the notice of the public and firmly into the realm of politics.

Some Catholic agencies went on recruiting gay couples asking them to go on with the practice of single name adoptions.

Across the world the Vatican began demanding changes in the Catholic adoption society rules.
Trustees reigned en bloc, but the Church decided to close the agencies rather than carry on as before. Cardinal Levada himself approved several adoptions by gay couples before the reining in began.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 10:45pm BST

I hope that TA readers can see that by the time Equality Regs for goods and services arrived the very private and highly confidential world of sifting and checking the lives of adoptive parents had become a matter for public comment.

For those involved in this long and difficult process this public debate seemed like life on another planet. The divide between bishop and rights campaigner had little if anything to do with the practical day to day journey for prospective parents and children as social workers delved deep so as to find the better match.

The debate around goods and services legislation did polarise the issues, but at the heart - I think the interests of the children was never lost or moved out of the centre. It may have had the trappings of a vicious custody battle - but it must be remembered that these agencies don't place children - these come from local authorities - they just prepare candidates on the off chance a local authority social work team will see a possible match there for one of their kids.

In the end the Charity Commission delivered a good decision, In fact over 90% of the capacity for adoption was preserved - the Catholic trustees WELCOMED the opportunity to move to openly welcome gay people leaving local bishops isolated and amazed - even so the Catholic Church may have withdrawn their imprimatur but in practice many continue with the full support of Catholic parishes and some remain housed in Catholic premises. It is not any where as black and white as painted in the media and not as Mr Vallely seems to imagine.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 11:43pm BST

Finally I think Paul Vallely has fallen into the trap of believing that the media have authentically captured this debate.

As I believe I've explained this never was a black and white debate and the many shades of grey do not make good stories for the majority. So when we get a journalist like Paul who has a deeply nuanced take on most things - he reads only the superficial material his colleagues write and casts it as the battle between church and state.

My understanding is that when the government took their own soundings - they were told by the majority of CATHOLIC agencies (and others) that gay people make perfectly adequate adoptive parents and that in one way or another they had been working with them for decades. They were told the facts - that by far the majority of professionals wanted to continue working with gay families and that the agencies could survive if they were cut off by the Church.

I genuinely believe that it was this pragmatic approach that guided the government's advisors - and in the end the best interests of the children trumped the louder and more journalist friendly screams from bishops and the secularists.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 23 August 2010 at 8:10am BST

I think Martin captures this very well. The primary concern for children is to have the chance of being placed with suitable and appropriate adopters. This creates a strong public policy presumption for equality of access to adoption services.

Discrimination law serves a separate but nonetheless vital function of disallowing groups of people being subjected to discriminatory behaviours and categories (LGBT people can't be trusted with children, can't adopt, can't parent) which are harmful to the whole of society - to the people concerned, those children that forego being fostered and adopted and to LGBT children and children of LGBT people that are subjected to the stigma that is allowed to exist in wider society - but that's a longer range kind of insidious type of harm that is done to the whole of society unless equality is zealously guarded - which is the beginning and the end of equality law in a civilised society.

This function should be supported by the Church in my view.

Posted by: Craig nelson on Monday, 23 August 2010 at 7:12pm BST

I think a so called catholic charity that gave children up to unmarried couples, deserved to lose.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 at 2:49pm BST
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