Thinking Anglicans

adoptions rumble on

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor writes in today’s Telegraph that Regulation must not trump conscience.

This is presumably the first step in the campaign reported by Jonathan Petre Church to fight to defend role in public life.

As Ekklesia reports in Church accused of getting its facts wrong on faith-based welfare the National Secular Society is ready to respond.

The leader column in the Independent Leading article: New morality? If only… is unequivocal in its summary of the position:

… The affair has also shown how social attitudes have changed in most of Britain. A few decades ago, the prospect of officially sanctioned gay adoption would have caused outrage. But few people today take the view that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt. The debate has focused instead on whether Catholic[s] agencies have a right to exempt themselves from the law of the land.

But perhaps most significantly, the affair has shown the limits of organised religions to influence political power. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of Catholics in England and Wales, wrote to every Cabinet minister to demand an exception for Catholic agencies. He was supported by the Church of England and the Muslim Council of Britain. It was a formidable coalition. But it failed.

Now the Cardinal accuses ministers of trying to impose a “new morality” in Britain. If this new morality means it will henceforth be impossible for religious groups to discriminate against people simply because they happen to be homosexual, we fail to see the problem with that.

Two links to the past that may be helpful to put all this in context:

First, this solution to the RC adoption agency problem is not original: see this report dated August 2006 from the San Francisco Chronicle SAN FRANCISCO Catholic agency finds way out of adoption ban Alliance with other groups gets around same-sex parent issue.

Second, this July 2006 Ekklesia report: Redeeming Religion in the Public Square.

Addition: Jonathan Bartley had this Thought for the Day on the radio this morning.

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Martin ReynoldsFr Joseph O'LearyMerseymikeGöran Koch-Swahnelaurence Recent comment authors
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Fr Joseph O'Leary
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Again, the last sentence of the Independent editorial is opportunistic and question-begging.

Martin Reynolds
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I would not be surprised to see the RCs withdrawing from the San Francisco solution – and fairly soon.

I fear that their agenda may be seriously compromised by such a positive story as this. There is huge pressure to push this issue forward and if solutions can be offered that make their case weaker they will be swept away.

laurence
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laurence

Again, the last sentence of the Independent editorial is opportunistic and question-begging.

Joseph O’Leary would you care to say how ? Just asserting it seems to ummm – beg the question. We have no way of knowing what you mean, if you do not say so.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
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I explained my view amply on other threads. The Independent overlooks the issue of freedom of conscience from State steamrolling, clearly stated by Rowan Williams and disentangled from the gay adoption issue. The Independent fails to recognize that the gay adoption issue could be a bona fide question of conscience and not merely discrimination. As to the Vatican’s view that the refusal of an exemption represents the triumph of relativism, this is a misnomer. State imposition of morality is not relativism but something closer to the opposite: the intolerance of opposing views. There are logical parallels with the euthanasia and… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
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Jonathan Bartley’s thought for the day also blurs the issue of conscience.

laurence
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laurence

So Joseph, you would support the consciences of individuals who seek euthanasia for themselves; and the setting up of clinics for the practice of euthanasia,in accordance with people’s consceinces, would you ?

Merseymike
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Merseymike

That’s because, Joseph, it isn’t an issue. There should be no right of conscience to discriminate in the public sphere. Simple as that.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Fr Joseph O’Leary wrote: “… the issue of freedom of conscience from State steamrolling, clearly stated by Rowan Williams and disentangled from the gay adoption issue.” Sorry, but wasn’t ++Rowan precisely the one who entangled them (admittedly with a little help from his friends)? and further: “The Independent fails to recognize that the gay adoption issue could be a bona fide question of conscience and not merely discrimination.” Sorry, but someone has to be able to show this in a decipherable manner (anyone would do – it needn’t be an international scholar famous for interpreting himself) lastly: “But steamrolling the… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Well, basically I am grateful to the Labour government for creating such good conditions for gays in Britain. However, I also know that very many Catholics, thanks to past and present church teaching, would have genuine difficulties of conscience if asked to actively implement the new liberal policies. Does this have to be “shown”? Do we just blithely reject what the people themselves say about their conscience? Do we just presume they are bigots? “There should be no right of conscience to discriminate in the public sphere. Simple as that”. But is discrimination such a simple category? Do we not… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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The Spinmaster once famously said to his Master

We don’t do religion.

Translate that as Most people do not “do” your “moral” point of view.

Try to connect!

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I don’t agree. I think that the State is the appropriate arbiter in the public sphere – and that the church should have no influence outside its own walls.

As an institution, the Church is rotten to the core – and so I would support anything which minimised its influence until it is thoroughly changed.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

“As an institution, the Church is rotten to the core – and so I would support anything which minimised its influence until it is thoroughly changed.”

You could equally argue that the State is rotten to the core. On what basis do you discern this rottenness? Would you say the Church was not rotten in 1950, 1900, 1850…? Or would you say the Church has always been rotten to the core? Certainly on gay-related issues the Church has never been as liberal and understanding as it is now.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I would agree with Fr Joe. The adoption issue is a poor ground for the government and faith communities to debate the “conscience” issue. There is the need for a debate on the role of faith communities providing front line, state funded social service and how their “ethos” might be a determining factor in how that service is provided. There are also broader issues like “forced marriages”, polygamy and sacrifice to name but a few, where debate needs to be more thorough and robust. While Mike makes valid points from a firm ground there are a whole range of issues… Read more »