Comments: more on the adoption agency row

We're not exactly covering ourselves with glory here, are we?

I'd rather assumed that it was now understood that gays weren't paedophiles, that gay parents don't make gay children, that gays are as capable as anyone drawn at random from the population at bringing up kids (which maybe damning with faint praise, but I'll move on).

So, the objections of our archbishops comes down to conscience - I thought John Humphries' interview with ++Sentamu particularly forensic, and it showed the fatal weakness in York's argument.

All I can do is trust that the Californian compromise will be adopted - it works well enough with the provision of abortions in the NHS - and both sides can believe they've won.

Posted by Simon Morden at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 9:47am GMT

'respect for conscience' 'respect for privacy'

Their Graces Letter and the John Sentamu interview are MOST encouraging.

Presumably, in future lesbian and gay church members, vicars (and Bishops Suffragan Designate), as well as members of the British public will have THEIR consciences respected, and their right to privacy and a home life treated with respect.

No more witch-hunts. No more horror stories of the hounding of clergy from their homes and posts and the pastoral abuse of church members. No more 'Jeffrey John situations'. No more abuse of women congregants or ministers. No more restrictions on women ministers (including bishops and Presiding Bishops) visiting the Provinces of Canterbury and York from other provinces and Churches.

Or will this Letter and this interview turn out to be as vacuous, dishonest and hypocritical as Issues, the Windsor Report, the C of E Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Civil Partnerships, and Rowan Williams' Michael Harding Memorial Lecture, which when all taken together are so dishonest and self-serving as to be a disgrace. They have lost their right to speak to us - let alone for us.

As for the roman 'catholic' denomination, having spent decades in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and the US covering up the physical and sexual abuse of vulnerable, children by it priests and religious, it too has forfeit the moral right to lecture the people of Britain on morality, conscience and most of all, on 'the needs of vulnerable children'.

Cormac Murphy O'Connor himself has been demonstrated to have been part of this cover-up while bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 9:53am GMT

That was Jim Naughtie not John Humphrys [sic] interviewing the archbishop.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 10:41am GMT

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, after his Churches role in covering up paedophile priests makes statements about child welfare.....


The moral case for allowing this discrimination is that LGB people are objectively evil and disordered.


Seems they have made the case for 'no exemptions' rather forcefully themselves and, whether at this time or a future time have no doubt the law will ban discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Period. And especially where such discrimination is based on the furtherance of damaging steretypes of LGB people as parents.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 10:52am GMT

Well, it was some bloke - my kids talk over it, no matter who's speaking... :(

Posted by Simon Morden at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 10:53am GMT

I find the position of ther Archbishops puzzling -- the wrongness of trying to legislate private conscience was, of course, the arguement used against Civil Rights legislation & the repeal of the Jim Crow laws in the United States.

Of course this would hardly be the first time that bishops took the side of power & prejudice.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 11:41am GMT

'Demanding the right to treat other people badly
is a poor reflection on these religious groups.'

Posted by David Reid on January 24, 2007 1:45 AM

This excellent comment following the Telegraph leader, says it all, as far as I am concerned.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:51pm GMT

"on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning (24 January 2007), Dr Sentamu, formerly a judge in Uganda, said that the refusal of Catholic adoption agencies to allow lesbian and gay couples access to their publicly tendered services was acceptable – because to require them to do otherwise would amount to the government involving itself in a “private matter”."

Surely, discrimination is a public matter?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:52pm GMT

Is it of the essence of the Roman Catholic Church that it should run adoption agencies? If it is and funding may be withdrawn by H.M's Government for non-compliance with laws relating to nondiscrimination, then it up to the Roman Catholic Church to find the necessary funding. If it isn't of the essence but is, in the words of the Archbishop of Cardiff, 'a tragedy' for the children that Roman Catholic adoption agencies close over this matter then surely it is the place of the Roman Catholic Church to make sacrifices of principle or finance to avoid the tragic consequences. The Roman Catholic Church would then be seen to be giving an example to secular Society of costly compassion. But it appears that once again the Roman Catholic Church (and now the Primates of the Church of England) wish to present secular Society with the Church as a model of discrimination. I use that word because this isn't discernment based on empirical evidence. One has only to listen to His Grace the Archbishop of York's interview to understand that.

I trust that we shall not see the further scandal of exemptions being given to Christian bodies in the face of natural justice. I pray that we shall be spared the ever growing identification of Christianity with condemnation and straight forward bigotry.

Posted by Anglicanus at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:17pm GMT

"The conscience factor must always be supreme."
Joe Benton MP for Bootle.Member of the Roman 'catholic' denomination. One o'clock news BBC 4.

Why have we never heard of the "supremacy of conscience" before ? Espcially down the most oppressive years for lgbt people.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:23pm GMT

Is it possible in Britain for Catholic adoption agencies to operate as they wish as long as they don't accept public funds? We had a similar situation here in which we had a publically funded denominational school system made up of an RC board, a Pentecostal board, and an Integrated board comprised of the rest of the Christians historically involved in education here. It was wasteful and manifestly discriminatory. We had two referenda before we got rid of it, the second one a very clear question to which a solid majority answered "get rid of the old system". Predictably, the Pentecostals and RCs groused about religious discrinimation, depite the fact that over 90% of the population is nominally Christian, over two thirds of them RC or Pentecostal, and the vote was high enough that a significant number of those voting to "oppress" the churches must have been practicing members of those churches. Only the RCs have created a private deniminational education system. The Pentecostals, for all their wealth locally, didn't seem to think denominational education was that important after all, apparently. Might RC adoption agencies in Britain be allowed to do what they wish as long as they don't take public funds?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:38pm GMT

Again, we're back with the question of why ECUSA should WANT to associate with these wolves in sheeps clothing. The Guardian comment that Rowan Williams' "stance is poignant because of his longstanding friendship with a gay Welsh Anglican priest who, with his partner, has raised a boy with severe behavioural difficulties" starkly outlines the extent to which this man will, time and again, jettison both Christian charity and personal experience to serve political ends. Yet again he backs apes over angels. From the Jeffrey John business onwards, Williams has consistently given support to the fag-bashing tendency within the Anglican communion. This time he goes further. Until now, the C. of E. has, to all intents and purposes, had no dog in this particular fight. Now both C of E archbishops involve themselves in support of the stance of Roman Catholic church - a church whose child-abuse scandals are legion - and of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, who, it seems, likely did sterling work in the past covering for and, by extension enabling, pedophile priests under his immediate authority.

As to the Independent's headline, "devout PM wrestling with his conscience", there are tens of thousands of dead Iraqis who, in a better world, would have more immediate claim on Mr. Blair's "conscience".

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:56pm GMT

As an American adoptive parent (of three Korean children) I find the tone of both CofE and Roman Catholic prelates to be abhorrent.

*All* adoptive families are liable to suffer varying social legislation because adoption is a legal matter, and because (by God's grace) thus far biological families rarely suffer intrusions from the state.

The tone of the prelate's communications, however, make it very difficult for any adoptive parent to enter a CofE or Roman Catholic church with any sense of dignity. The insinuation that any adoptive parent, straight, gay, or otherwise, would consider adopting children for sexual purposes is beneath contempt. Clear violations of this trust in the past in deeply regrettable situations do not warrant regarding all present and potential adoptive parents with suspicion. The daily facts of parenthood are so mundane: consistent caring and love, responsibility, hope. Have Sentamu, Williams et al. even spoken to any adoptive parents in this discussion?

As an American Episcopalian married to a UCC minister, I find that when visiting England I am increasingly reluctant to enter *any* CofE church or chapel for purpose of public worship. I will gladly accompany her to URC parishes; in Scotland I will gladly worship with the Scottish Episcopal Church. But I find that in fact Anglican links of trust and respect have been broken, and I cannot repair them. Let Sentamu and Williams go their own way, just as Pius V (1570) and his successors have gone their way.

Posted by AdoptiveParent at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 2:57pm GMT

There is no way through this impasse except to carefully weigh the substantive nature of the rights of conscience being advanced.

The queer equality right of conscience is an ethical demand upon us all to join in freeing neighbors - from categorical acts - of denying business, services, or public accommodation - which a citizen would otherwise be completely free to access, if only he or she were not identified as a member of the group against which categorical barriers have been and must be erected. Take an example from any passing categorical feature about you that happens to be true just now, and imagine that door being closed in your face because of it for religious reasons - by all the people who control that access.

The religious right of conscience in this case is an ethical demand upon us to exempt - pretty well across the boards? - religious people, precisely, from this demand. Are there other categorical necessities for closing doors? Whom else might religious doctrines add to the list of forbidden users? Is public access open, only when non-religious people happen to stand at the gates? And righteously closed when religious people do?


Because the religious people continue to believe all manner of flat earth theory denigrations about their categorical group (in this case) which are manifestly untrue, so far as we have been able to empirically test any of those ideas.

God may well be at work here in a way, widely and subtly demonstrating to us the flat earth nature of just these allegedly conscientious religious views, and the rights to close doors against neighbors which this sort of thinking inevitably support or even demand from all of us.

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:03pm GMT

PS 1 to Archbishop Sentamu: The sex acts which are still being condemned are pretty much the same sex acts which straight people also do, inside marriage, quite frequently. Even among married couples who are believers.

Does that help make the categorical functions of this discrimination even clearer?

The straight house master may make hay while the sun shines, and above all profit from all - but queer slaves are forbidden to touch their genitals? Really? In this day and age?

And we are supposed to nod our heads and immediately discern that this is such a high matter of conscience that conscience itself must rise or fall by it?

PS 2 to Sentamu: Your analogy with a doctor's conscientious abortion exemption will not fly, either, actually. Imagine your doctor claiming a right of conscience to refuse to give medical care - say, prescribing antiviral medicines for HIV/AIDS - just because he or she condemns on religious grounds the acts that transmitted the virus? Is the doctor's religious conscience violated by our expecting him or her to write such a prescription? Why? Why not?

Abortion is a separate empirical-ethical matter of good vs. harm, and a whole lot else, compared to the flat earth nonsense being implied and promulgated about the queer citizens who must be denied in this case by religious gate keepers.

Nice try, but, ah, no thanks. Ah, maybe you can tell me yet again just why closing public access doors is such a key matter of gospel witness and religious conscience?

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:13pm GMT

In an earlier post I referred, in the context of the Independent headline "devout PM wrestling with his conscience", to the fact that Mr. Blair's conscience is clearly not this sensitive when it comes to tens of thousands of Iraqi dead. I should also, of course, have included the thousands of British and American servicemen, needlessly dead and wounded in this war of choice.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:19pm GMT

After much agonising and reflection and time, I've come to a place where I feel the essence of the current palaver in the Church is that those people who have come to an understanding about the faith that is usually described as being 'liberal' or 'progressive' etc., cannot find it in themselves to declare that so many people over the last two thousand years, so many brilliant teachers and leaders and faithful, in the church - hundreds of thousands - have simply been wrong in some ways.

Yes, they have not quite got it right. Given what they were given, they just made decisions that were not really 100 per cent right. Even the really amazing guys. It's not that we now think we have 100 per cent rightness, it's just that they seem to have been a little bit skew-wiff considering what we are now given.

That is to say we are all human and fallible. It does not reflect upon the veracity of the core gospel - to suggest that it might is to degrade the humanity of those saints.

But people are scared to say such things. The old guys missed the mark in some respects. Why are the old guys given almost canonical status? Why can't they be wrong? Why can't we assert that without shame or fear? Why can't what we have learnt and come to believe be shared with both confidence and love for those who earnestly sought truth before us?

Unless we do, I can't see any hope to break through this ridiculous parade of delusional prejudice that flies in the face of reason and empirical evidence. We just look like hateful fools. Great. Rock on Jesus, Lord of the straights.

Straighty straighty straighty straight. My RC sister and her RC rich, white, straight, privately educated husband adopted. He turned out to be subtly personality disordered in a profound and gruesome way. Those kids are now incredibly messed up, whereas they were previously just quite messed up. The social services are still blind to his awful use of the children to avenge the break-up of their marriage, YEARS after the fact. The children are now so twisted by it all the girl is the scariest, wreckless, heartless manipulator and the little boy takes pride in that the whole school fears him and his violence. I'm queer and I definitely do not want to adopt. Before, I didn't want to because, being a natural worrier, I couldn't cope with the worry. I don't know how parents manage with the worry. But so many don't worry, don't genuinely care. Don't have a clue that they might screw up kid's minds. I know that social services are just as rigorous and careful as any religious body, but really, they don't have a clue in real life. They don't. They can't. I've seen them being rigorous and yet they couldn't see genuinely disordered parenting if it bit them on the nose.

And if people are putting some theologians speculations before practical care and genuine love, then basically they shouldn't be running adoption agencies in the first place. So please, do flounce off in your blind righteousness.

The fact that the CofE has now joined in on this front has started to make the whole mess of Anglicanism laughable. I used to care about it - so surprised about York. Silly men in frocks. Shame. Deep deep shame and foolishness.

There is nothing 'right' about you anymore. disasterous hatefilled nonesense. lemmings in purple. say hi to the rocks for me. The visible church is rotten to the core. I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy.

Posted by Name in email addy: sensitive content at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:29pm GMT

Another meditation on lecture-room moral theology. Says nowt beyond 'society is complicated and different interest-groups conflict with one another, oh dear isn't that difficult'. Sounds like an attempt to say someething without saying anything, and like all such attempts, doomed to fail.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:42pm GMT

Firstly, given their record, I would question whether the Catholic Church is a fit organisation to have any connection with children in any case

Second, we live in a democracy, not a theocracy. There should be no automatic exemption, and if the Church can't get that, then we will be better off without its interference . If they can't provide services in a non-discriminatory manner,then I await their closure with glee. Good riddance to them.

I have no intention of returning to the Church until a split takes place.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 5:57pm GMT

It seems likely to me that Williams is worried about more than Roman Catholic adoption agencies. The CofE is an employer in the UK. It has adopted policies that attempt to constrain the personal lives of its gay employees. This new law could be used to put a stop to that. Rowan is hiding behind the cardinal's red skirts.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 6:02pm GMT

I've just had the pleasure of hearing my vicar on R4, missing the point completely.

Even if he's right - that children do best being adopted by a heterosexual married couple - he's not grasping the actual situation. Children in care more often than not have disasterous outcomes in life. Faced with that fact, I'd rather my kids be adopted by Beelzebub himself than left with the local authority.

Posted by Simon Morden at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 6:14pm GMT

I will watch as the Consevos on this site ignore the obvious pain you have suffered at the hands of organized religion. You will be just another rebel, your criticisms of the Church that has hurt you will be ignored, and you will be written off. I'd advise you, if you still have the heart for God, to read some Celtic spirituality, some Church history, the lives of the early saints, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, The Sayings of the Desert Mothers, The Cloud of Unknowing, and a host of other such writings. There will be the traditional anti-sex positions, granted, but you will see the root of it isn't legalism at all, despite what you have been told by those who can only relate to God through Law. They will also show a very different attitude towards God and our relationship to Him than anything you're going to get from Fundamentalists for whom He has been reduced to the level of vindictive judge.

You'll be surprised, and, I hope, realize God is not the monster He's made out to be. He's not waiting to roast you for all eternity if you make a mistake. He came to rescue us. In the real Orthodox tradition, He is the "Lover of Humankind" not the cruel punisher He is claimed to be by the puffed up little God Botherers in modern Western society who undeservedly claim to be "orthodox".

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 6:52pm GMT

When TA started up it was a welcome breath of fresh air in that genuine debate took place and only rarely did anyone descend to personal attacks and abuse. I still think what we have is an excellent news service but I'm getting more and more despondent about the tone of much of what is posted by way of comment. So this is probably a final attempt to post in the style that I thought TA was for. And I promise to go away if you flame me!

The hallmarks of any social service are things like these:
the needs of the "client group" have a VERY high (usually top) priority.
everyone should have reasonable access to the service (whether as client or provider).
total provision should be arranged in such a way that the "hard to reach" groups in society are indeed reached.

For an adoption service this would imply that the best interests of the children are the priority; that everyone (including same sex couples) should have decent access to explore their suitability for adoption; that members of religious and ethnic groups (for example) feel able to access the services including being able to put up a child for adoption.

I would hope that all of us would want all of that.

But there is a huge logical leap from there to concluding that every social service provider has to be equally accessible to every potential service user. All the evidence shows that (in the UK at least) we actually need a range of providers in order to reach the most marginalised groups effectively. So for example the Women's Refuges run by the HA I chair do not allow boys over 13 or men on the premises. They do so in order to ensure that the most vulnerable women are not put off from accessing the service. And there is then an onus on the public sector to ensure that other provision is available that does reach women with older male children and men who are victims of domestic abuse.

In the same way we need adoption agencies that are accessible to muslims, to lesbian couples and to single catholic teenage mums. The Catholic Church is able to provide a service that reaches much more effectively into this last group than anyone else does. What matters, in my view, is then that other agencies are reaching equally effectively into the other groups. To require the Catholic agency to reach all groups is to set an impossible bar. Indeed I can't really imagine that many gay couples would find a catholic run service the most accessible provider even were it legally required to cater for them.

I don't agree for one moment with the RC position that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered, but I can't imagine trying to run the social service sector on the basis of "everyone provides equally for all" that seems to lie behind the SOR's.


Posted by David Walker at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 8:53pm GMT

Simon Morden writes
"I've just had the pleasure of hearing my vicar on R4, missing the point completely."

My congregation has that pleasure every Sunday.


Posted by Raspberry Rabbit at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 10:18pm GMT

if Muslims asked for a similar exemption based on their beliefs about the impropriety of genital homosexual acts, I think many currently outraged liberals would support them and call those who criticized them 'Islamophobes'.

Isn't much of the anti-Catholic reaction catholico-phobia? But that's OK and mandatory.

Posted by John Damascus at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 10:58pm GMT

The first thing that strikes me is that Simon Morden is totally, absolutely, right about the care system in the UK. Care is largely where difficult kids from difficult backgrounds with difficult problems get dumped together. A few manage to make it out with some sort of prospects for a decent life, but a huge number end up sexually abused (usually by other kids), on drugs or in prison. Social services departments are often overwelmed by the depth of needs that these kids have and the scarcity of their own resources; and most of the voluntary agencies who used to run homes have now opted out of providing care directly and instead provide 'useful' advice to the struggling council staff who try and make the system work. Beelzebub probably wouldn't be a bad alternative.

On a complete tangent, did anyone else listen to the very end of that Sentamu interview? The bit where he says that gay sexual relationships are to be 'repented of' and are on a par with adultery and fornication? Amazing how a man who sees institutional racism under every bush can be so crassly bigoted, offensive and hurtful. For what it's worth, John, I won't be repenting of my love any time soon and yes, that includes the gift from God that is my sex life.

While all this goes on Rowan the spineless just kind of stands at the side and meekly agrees. As far as I can see, Rowan now sees his role in life is to do as little as possible so that the fundies won't have any excuse to be rude to him; and instead will be rude to other people. Like Americans and homosexuals.

Posted by Sammy Morse at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 11:24pm GMT

There is nothing remotely Catholic about the current strictures of Rome / Westminster . Why misuse a good word in this way ?

Homophobia is homophobic whatever its (ort your) prvenance.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 11:29pm GMT

You just love to go on about h. acts --but most of use spend our time engaged in life ---you can't bear to contemplate that, I realise.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 11:30pm GMT

David - your point is precisely why I think that a Californian compromise is required here. Some might argue that "everyone provides equally for all" in these very sensitive areas - but to take your example of domestic abuse, I'm assuming you wouldn't argue that male survivors shouldn't be catered for, and if they turned up at the shelter, they wouldn't be pointed to somewhere which could help.

That's what makes the RC church's response so wincingly awful: gay couples who want to adopt shouldn't be catered for anywhere in society, and even though we know of places which do, we won't tell them.

Posted by Simon Morden at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 11:58pm GMT

The Roman Catholic adoption agencies rely on public money. Well, let them carry out the threat of the religious boss, and put the public money elsewhere for this provision.

I have the same view about schools - only with the lightest touch does church involvement in state schooling function. When the Churches push their agenda - that which is still dominant in the Churches - education for all becomes distorted, and also inflated church attendances are evidence of distortion in those localities.

Half-stated by the Anglican archbishops is, nevertheless, full consequence, and fully-stated by the Catholic version, leaves no doubt. So it is time to provide these services properly. These leaders declare their further marginalisation and privatisation.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 12:13am GMT


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 doing so. Just like they used multiculterism to attack and isolate Christians and our British heritage and traditions, plus ten years of political correctness from the invisible liberal elite to control our British Society.

No, this is part of a much wider and bigger agenda to eradicate Christianity from our society and its institutions.. These new regulations show no respect whosoever for the beliefs and values of people of faith including Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews and other minority faiths who have different morals and values to atheist, aggressive liberal secularist and militant gay groups. The Catholic adoption row was just a red herring.

You may have won your little battle, enjoy it whilst you can, the faith communities will now mobilise against New Labour at the next general election who have now revealed their true colours and their hidden agenda. New Labour will pay the price for its arrogance and showing no respect for the beliefs and values of the faith communities. And its hell bent secularist, now not so hidden agenda!

Posted by Simon Icke at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 1:52am GMT

I don't know any gay couples who have adopted a kid, so this flurry has been a learning experience for me. I think the movement of the times is towards valorizing gay couples and I admire the generosity of those who adopt. On the other hand my church still officially claims that gay couples are an evil parody of marriage and that they should never be allowed to adopt children -- so Catholics running adoption agencies suddenly find themselves steamrolled into going against authority and even conscience by State fiat. A painful situation. Christians can opt not to collude with State evil -- in the case of war for example -- though they rarely do. But are gay couples and adoption really evil? Are they an issue to be martyred for? I think the legitimate issue is that Church members should have a space for the autonomous development of their conscientious decisions. What in the eyes of the State appears as discrimination in the eyes of the Church appears as legitimate moral scruple. Given the extreme recentness of the UK's changed attitude to gay rights it is a bit unfair to treat the recalcitrant Christian conscience as criminal. It is not self-evidently a matter of "natural justice" -- though it may come to be seen as such in time. Leeway can no doubt be found if the will is there to seek it.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 3:04am GMT

There are times when the Church must bow to the Crown. One would think that ++Cantuar would understand this.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 7:05am GMT

In response to David Walker. I see no reason why the acceptance of gay couples would do anything to dissuade 'single teenage catholic mums' from approaching Catholic agencies. Many of those 'teenage mums' are likely to have gay friends in any case.

Agencies aimed at different sectors is fine. Discriminating against others and wanting official sanction to do so isn't. And that is the problem - that is what the RC's want. I think that is entirely unacceptable, and if they cannot behave in a professional manner, then we would be better off without such agencies.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 8:39am GMT

Merseymike - I think David Walker's point is that if the Catholic agencies don't exist (i.e. they shut themselves down over all this), then 'single teenage Catholic mums' are going to be disadvantaged.

Posted by David at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 10:46am GMT

No, they are not, David. I think that the thought that these young women are so unworldly that they would not be able to approach other agencies is naive in the extreme. Its often their parents who thrust them towards the 'services' of catholic agencies,in any case.

Frankly, I think the Catholic church isn't a fit organisation to run anything like this, given their attitudes.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 11:21am GMT

Incidentally, I thought Sentamu was almost laughingly inept in his attempt to justify anti-gay discrimination as opposed to racial discrimination on the Today programme.

The fact is that other than 'what the Bible says', there is absolutely no justification - and 'what the Bible says' will be considered irrational and irrelevant by the vast majority of people, given that they have a sensible attitude towards this book rather than that clung on to by the church

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 11:54am GMT

Wnatever happened to the law of 'double effect'? If my aged brain recalls it correctly, this bastion of traditional catholic moral theology offers the perfect way round the entire problem for the RC Church.

If, post-SOR legislation, in order to meet the needs of the aforementioned single RC mothers (and we'll leave undiscussed the role in their single motherhood played by humanae vitae)the Church has to acquiesce in a lesser moral evil (as C M-o'C would have it), ie gay couples as possible adoptive parents then the greater moral need overrules the lesser.

So why isn't this card being played? My resultant thoughts do not redound to the praise of the Church. In no particular order:

'Young RC single mothers' are being used as tools in an attempt to strong-arm the government. A highly immoral course of action, no?

The RC church believes that homosexuality is a greater moral evil than hanging the aforementioned RC single mothers and their children out to dry.

When push comes to shove, the risk of raising the incidence of abortion is perceived as less morally culpable than that of risking enabling gay couples to adopt.

Will someone please find a massive flaw in these dark thoughts?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 12:41pm GMT

David wrote: "... 'single teenage Catholic mums' are going to be disadvantaged."

Can you please explain Why and How?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 1:46pm GMT

Supposing that Ruth Kelly did resign, that would further continue the sidelining of Christians, who are a sizeable number of people in this country. This is probably what the campaigners want - just like they want the acquiescence and preferably merging of Catholic adoption agencies with the 'real' agencies (with their so much superior morality). Then the marginalisation of 'alternative' views will be complete, as complete as their own monopoly. A great advert for Proportional Representation.
Not that their own view is evidence-based anyway: it is based on the world's greatest statistical disaster, namely the undeniable harvest in social/familial breakdown resulting from the overall 1960s pseudo-philosophy: ie it is based on sand.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 1:52pm GMT

Suppose we were talking about conscientious objection to compulsory military service in Iraq. Would you progressive types be saying religious conscience must give way to the principle that all must have "equal" access to compulsory service? How about a father and daughter living in an open incestuous relationship who want to rent a flat in your home? Should Jehovah's Witneses be forced to receive blood transfusions? Must we force Muslims to eat prok in the prisons? If any of the answers to these questions are "no," then you need to do a much better job trying to explain why in this case, the conscience of many Roman Catholics should not be respected. Or is it just because they are easy whipping boys?

Posted by Dave at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 2:59pm GMT


"If any of the answers to these questions are "no," then you need to do a much better job trying to explain why in this case, the conscience of many Roman Catholics should not be respected. Or is it just because they are easy whipping boys?"

It is my understanding that the Catholic adoption services we're talking about are receiving public funds. If you're taking public money, you need to follow public laws, I think.

I'm more interested in ++Sentamu's interview. is there a transcript?

Posted by Weiwen Ng at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 5:53pm GMT

Dave ; because they wish to discriminate against other citizens whose existence is legal and whose relationships have status, along with the law being on their side in that they have the right to adopt.

None of your examples are in the least comparable. You will simply have to accept that those of us who agree with the legislation do not agree with your outlook and believe that anti-gay prejudice is equivalent to racism and other irrational prejudice. Just because you cite religion to support your view is utterly irrelevant:no-one is forcing you to believe anything other than what you believe, but you cannot then expect to be able to discriminate against people outside the bounds of the church.

Its not that difficult, is it?

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 6:37pm GMT

...don't forget the "Beastialitarian" wanting to boink your dog, Dave!

Seriously, you "Slippery Slope" "Open the Floodgates!"-types just have a *limitless* capacity for hypothetical Sturm*und*Drang, don't you? ;-/

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 7:27pm GMT

Dave - all your comparisons are the wrong way round.

The issue is that an organisation offering a service should not discrimate against anyone who requests that service. NOT that the person requesting a service should be required to go to a specifi organisation to get the service.

To take one of your "silly" examples. A Jehovah's Witness is not offereng a service to the hospital to receive a Blood Transfusion - the Hospital is offering a service of blood to the Jehovah's Witness.

Similarly, a Muslim prisoner is not offering a service to the prison system to be in prison.

Posted by Charles at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 7:42pm GMT

Dear Simon, the "Comments" prompt is missing from the thread above this one, "adoption agency row: latest development."

Regarding that thread, the Stephen Bates article regarding then-Bishop, now Archbishop Rowan's next door neighbors in Wales just makes me sad for ABC Rowan. Once again, I'm seeing the real person on the one hand, and the public person on the other, and never the twain shall meet while he is ABC. It must be terrible to be inside his head - although, I still have this image of him, when he was just a priest and Lady Margaret Professor at Oxford, in 1992, coming into Christ Church for Eucharist, a little late, and sinking quietly to his knees onto the stone floor, seeming able to stay that way indefinitely. I want to believe that deep center is still there and that it will prevail over the external crumbling I see through my glass so darkly.
revLois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:03pm GMT

Dave - your examples are so full of straw, I could bed my strawberries down with it.

The conscience of JWs is respected - though there is a good case where children are involved to remove that choice. Elective surgery is just that.

Muslims, Jews, Hindus, vegetarians and vegans have dietary requirements that are relatively easily catered for. There's no problem here. We have a duty of care for prisoners.

The incestuous relationship? How would I know? Why would I pry? I don't even know if it's illegal if the daughter is over the age of consent - but can I assume she's entered into the relationship freely? Yes, I'd feel uncomfortable about it, but your phrasing - "A flat in my home". I don't have a flat in my home. Most people don't. I've a room I've rented out. I didn't ask our lodgers their sexuality.

Conscientious objectors - I take it you don't know much history. If someone managed to convince the conscription board that they would not in any circumstances fight, they still did their National Service on the land, where they were vilified for being cowards. Certainly not the easier option.

So precisely how do these examples relate to the matter at hand? Your point escapes me.

Posted by Simon Morden at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:06pm GMT

While I understand the emotive power of Dave's argument re: transfusions, pacifism and pork, the argument itself is flawed fatally by his choice of examples. Each is about the individual exercising his/her right not to kill/not to partake of unclean food/not to be the beneficiary of a forbidden practice. The focus of each is, yes, the individual conscience, but also the individual as participant.

I think it a step change to go from this to say that my conscience forbids you from (in this case) adopting. It seems more akin to the Jehovah's Witness demanding an end to blood transfusions.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:09pm GMT

There are incestuous relationships, especially among those who did not grow up together and for whom the usual blocks don't form. And if they have children, things go wrong - ask the Hapsburg Dynasty. These children are an-other, and these affected an-others are a conceern of the community. Whether Jehovah's Witnesses (adults only, in full knowledge) are forced to have blood transfusions depends on society's attitude to suicide among the can be healthy: these involve themselves. Other examples are individual cases.

The matter of the Roman Catholic restriction and institutional objection is simple: if it does not believe its agencies can present children for adoption on a non-discriminatory basis, then stop doing it. Roman catholciism can believe what it likes. I suspect, though, a great many individual Catholics agree with the legislation - ask John Reid, and even Ruth Kelly is one of the drivers of this legislation.

The two C of E Archbishops do not represent all Christian views; after all, it was not so long ago, that Rowan Williams himself was inclusive regarding gay people, and he was able to read the Bible then. A great many Christians agree with the former Rowan Williams.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:52pm GMT

Was that before Williams had his major surgery - removal of the spine, Pluralist?

I was interested to hear John Reid, someone I have always seen as socially conservative, oppose exemption.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 11:46pm GMT

I was a panel member for many years.

The problem with all adoption and fostering agencies is too many children and far too few applicants.

The vast majority of placements are for children with complex needs. Not all had such complexity when they came into the care system. But ten or fifteen (often more) short term placements is unlikely to enhance the quality of their lives.

We did all we could to advertise and recruit potentials anywhere and everywhere.

Some agencies specialize in children with certain needs (the one I served did) and this can be very helpful in giving them a deep understanding of the particular skills needed for their care. This was particularly important in supporting the family after adoption.

We were all aware that some children’s needs were going to call for a very special person(s) to give them a loving and safe home.

The larger the pool of applicants the better opportunity the social worker had to match these needs with a new family.

There is no logic that I can understand that says any agency should disqualify potentially good applicants before they walk in the door, or that you serve your children by sending them elsewhere.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 11:57pm GMT

There is an excellent article by Martin Reynolds in The Tablet ( which will repay a careful read.

Posted by cryptogram at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 11:39am GMT
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