Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Upper Tribunal hears fourth appeal by RC adoption agency

Updated Saturday morning

In August 2011, we reported that the RC adoption agency, Catholic Care, had been given leave to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, after three earlier appeals had all failed.

Now, more than a year later, that appeal is being heard. Third Sector Online reports Upper Tribunal hears latest Catholic Care appeal today.

The Upper Tribunal will today hear the latest appeal by the charity Catholic Care against a ruling preventing it from excluding gay couples from using its adoption service.

It is the fourth in a series of appeals by Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) since the Charity Commission refused its request in November 2008 to change its charitable objects in order to restrict access to its adoption service to heterosexual couples.

The charity has argued that if it did not discriminate in this way it would lose its funding from the Catholic Church and would have to close the service.

Today’s appeal, which will be heard by Mr Justice Sales at the Rolls Building in London, is against the charity tribunal’s rejection of its request to change its objects in April 2011. The hearing is scheduled to last two days…

Frank Cranmer has some analysis at Law and Religion UK Catholic Care and adoption by same-sex couples – the story continues.


Third Sector has two reports from the hearing:

Charity tribunal ‘misdirected itself’ over Catholic Care, Upper Tribunal told

Overturning Catholic Care decision could set dangerous precedent, says Charity Commission

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 at 1:47pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

What is it about the Catholic Care facilitators that is so afraid of entrusting need orphans or parent-less children with stably-settled same-sex adoptive parents? Are they afraid that they might be treated with a similar recklessness to that of R.C. priests who are guilty of abuse?

Parenting is an entirely different matter. and presumably all adoptive parents are screened for any historical behavioural problems with children, so what is all the fuss about? It seems that the R.C. Church authorities are putting undue pressure on agencies that might otherwise be open to the enabling process of same-sex adopters.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 13 September 2012 at 10:32pm BST

They are providing a service which can easily be provided by the state. Just as nuns used to run some hospitals until the costs of equipment became too much for them. Perhaps they can find another service to provide instead which still justifies the tax free status of money given to them, and let the state provide the adoption service instead.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Friday, 14 September 2012 at 4:17am BST

Catholic adoption agencies were established to enable Catholic children to be raised by Catholics in a Catholic home. What's wrong with that? The alternative was confinement in an orphanage. The Church of England Children's Society had the same aim.

Catholic doctrinal teaching assumes that parents are male and female. The imbalance of late-c20 attitudes to normality has introduced a situation unknown to history. How can anybody expect a Catholic organization to work against the teaching of the Church and remain Catholic?

No sane pair of homosexuals would approach a Catholic adoption agency for anything other than political reasons. There are innumerable other agencies, many without religious affiliations, which might serve their purpose.

I hope that the Catholic Care case will be settled in their favour. Recent legislation means that many Catholic children are lost to the Church and imposes a limitation of religious freedom.

Posted by: John Bowles on Friday, 14 September 2012 at 10:35am BST

"No sane pair of homosexuals would approach a Catholic adoption agency for anything other than political reasons."

I have heard it said that Catholic adoption agencies are particularly known for placing hard to place children - severely disabled children etc.
If social conscience caused a gay couple to wish to look after a particularly disadvantaged child a Catholic agency would be their best and most experienced partner and the most likely one to facilitate an adoption that does not end in failure.

If only prejudice didn't trump everything else.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 September 2012 at 4:54pm BST

I have not looked up the historic articles of any Roman Catholic adoption agency but suspect that John Bowles' understanding of what happened in the 19th and three quarters of the 20th century may be close to the truth.

What went wrong has only just begun to be documented, though I have to admit that the disastrous and abusive relationships that flourished in Roman Catholic institutions was repeated in Anglican charities and secular "Homes" and was obviously not part of the high minded and gracious spirit of their founding fathers.

The practice John Bowles describes has not been a part of child care since the 70's when these independent charities lost the possession and control of the placement of children to the local authority. For several decades these Roman Catholic charities have been providing a service to the large pool of children waiting for adoption by preparing prospective adopters that might be seen as suitable by a local social worker who is seeking to match a waiting child to a waiting adopter.

These Roman Catholic charities have prepared people from all denominations and faiths and none. They have prepared married couples and (since 2006) unmarried couples, single people (gay and straight) divorced individuals and couples in their second, third marriages. Remember it is only gay COUPLES the RC's don't want to prepare.

Many of these charities changed their names in the 80s & 90's dropping the words Roman Catholic from their titles, so it was more than possible that a perfectly sane and genuine gay couple to call a Catholic charity seeking to be adoptive parents without knowing their ethos. We did.

In our case the receptionist barred our way and politely told us that it was an RC charity and they didn't prepare gay couples.

We were somewhat taken aback - my partner was a practicing RC and we were raising the one lad we had in the RC faith - but we never even got to explain this!

Several days later - somewhat miffed - and yes, with a "political purpose" in mind, I rang the same agency and told the receptionist I was looking to adopt with my unmarried female partner, I had been previously married and I was a confirmed atheist. I was put straight through to the case worker who explained that all they were interested in was: "would we make good parents?".

Catholic Care in Leeds runs several homes for people with a variety of learning difficulties and mental health problems. John Bowles will be delighted to know that in the operation and management of these homes the Roman Catholic charity is fully compliant with all the equality legislation and does not discriminate against gay residents or gay couples. It seems that in this area of their work the charity IS able to provide a comprehensive service to gay people despite the teaching of their Church.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 14 September 2012 at 10:45pm BST

"Catholic adoption agencies were established to enable Catholic children to be raised by Catholics in a Catholic home." - John Bowles -

And does that situation still obtain today, Mr Bowles? And are Catholic Care Services solely concerned with Roman Catholic children?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 15 September 2012 at 1:16am BST

It does not surprise me that some Catholic adoption agencies have become compromised and shredded by secularist legislation. But, if so,why is Catholic Care testing the law? Surely the answer is that it wishes to maintain a Catholic identity with all that this involves.

All of these Catholic agencies have been supported for decades by Catholic subscriptions made in good faith that Catholic orphans would find acceptance in Catholic homes. If they have become little better than agents of the State,compromised by political correctness, the subscribers and people who include them in their wills should be told.

It interests me that Martin Reynolds had to lie in order to get any satisfaction about his enquiry.

Posted by: John Bowles on Sunday, 16 September 2012 at 11:36am BST

John Bowles asks why Catholic Care in the diocese of Leeds is testing the law and suggests its motive must surely be "that it wishes to maintain a Catholic identity with all that this involves".

I must say that I have asked myself this question too. What is evident is that the statements coming out of the RC Church along the lines "every child deserves a mother and a father" are intended to whip up support for them while completely misleading the public as to their actual practice.

If John Bowles can be seen as the average person in the street, then it is equally obvious that the RC Church campaign of disinformation has been thoroughly successful. John Bowles is not simply ignorant - he is deceived!

John Bowles is also misled as to the funding of the activities of Catholic Care. Their investment income from such things as historical benefactions accounts for slightly over 1% of their income, and the voluntary giving just over 10%. While the remaining £3.87 million comes from government.

If this was a Roman Catholic Charity seeking to help the unwanted children from Roman Catholic families find a good home with another Roman Catholic family and entirely funded by the Roman Catholic Church then I, for one would be taking a completely different view.

But the only part of the above statement that has any truth at all is that Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) is administered by Roman Catholic trustees.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 16 September 2012 at 8:54pm BST

Thank you, Martin, you've certainly answered my question, which was; Do all Catholic Care agencies only care for Roman Catholic children being adopted by heterosexual Roman Catholic parents? Your answer is NO. And that would be consistent with their acceptance of Public funding for their work.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 16 September 2012 at 11:40pm BST

It has been suggested that Catholic Care Leeds has been so dependent upon its contracts with Leeds City Council with respect to adoption and fostering services that it cannot afford to lose them. the donations which come in from local Catholic parish congregations are simply not sufficient. If it can persuade the powers that be that it has a legitimate
defense in maintaining its discrimination against same-sex couples then, presumably, any existing or future contracts with Leeds City Council could stay the right side of the law? However, at the end, as I have expressed many times, the majority of Catholic child-care agencies in England & Wales
have found it perfectly possible to comply with Goods & Services legislation. The Leeds case is a last-ditch and politically-driven attempt to sabotage such legislation.

Posted by: Martin on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 11:48am BST

It saddens me that these Catholic agencies have been corrupted beyond recognition. They came into being and were supported by hard-earned Catholic subscriptions in order to give Catholic orphans a Catholic life in a Catholic home. The tenor of some comments is that this contribution is negligible and no longer counts. In which case, why is Catholic Care so keen to retain its Catholic identity? Surely it would,some maintain, be honest to merge with the conditions imposed by the secular State?

In the meanwhile, should the case not succeed, I hope that it will refuse or return Catholic subscriptions rather than take money under false pretences. Catholics are generous givers and it is dishonest to treat their donations with indifference. It would be even more honest if the other former Catholic adoption agencies surrendered their endowments to genuinely Catholic causes. To refrain from doing so constitutes a breach of trust.

Posted by: John Bowles on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 10:20am BST

Yes, Martin.

I think it was at the last appeal when the judges made reference to the fact that even if it became legal for Catholic groups to discriminate against gay people it was highly unlikely local authorities would be able to offer contracts to them because of their failure to meet National Standards which forbid discrimination.

So there does seem to be another motive behind all this that doesn't have much to do with the children.

And indeed, the very charity that turned us away is now positively recruiting in the gay community.
It also is still house in RC premises and benefits from substantial RC Church support, so who is telling what whoppers to who?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 4:01pm BST

I don't really see how the situation would be any different if it was purely a case of the Catholic church placing children from Catholic homes into Catholic families with purely Catholic funding.

Those children would still be the responsibility of the state until they were adopted and the state would still have to safeguard that they are not placed in environments that might not be able to support them according to the laws of the state.

This was the case with the Christian couple that was told they could no longer foster children because they did not accept the official legal and moral view of homosexuality of the society they live in. It would have been irresponsible of the state to place a potentially gay child with people who say from the outset that they would bring the child up with what they believe to be compassion but that they would still nevertheless tell him that being gay was wrong.

Any child damaged by an upbringing like that could potentially later sue the state for knowingly placing him into such a situation.

The olde worlde where individual groups in society decide who they wish to discriminate against and who they wish to consider to be morally inferior simply no longer applies, certainly not in the realm of fostering and adoption.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 8:04am BST

Sorry, my last comment seemed a bit of a non sequitur, dealing with a different question. But it's all linked. The Catholic church will have to get over its irrational prejudice of gay people and will have to be able to treat gay couples the same as straight ones and treat gay children the same as straight ones. Otherwise it really cannot take an active part in adoptions that involve government responsibility and or government funds.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 8:19am BST
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