Monday 6 October 2008

Bishop's letter yesterday on adoption by same-sex couples is an important development for the pro-life cause

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue's letter yesterday to Catholic Caring Services, the social care agency of the diocese of Lancaster, regarding adoption by same-sex couples, is an important development for the pro-life cause in England and Wales.

His letter, which you can find here, states: "On grounds of conscience, formed by faith, we believe that same-sex partnerships do not provide the essential characteristics necessary for the well being and development of the child. I remain convinced that the best interests of children are served when they live with and are brought up by a married couple. Any dilution of this fundamental principle can harm children and undermine their paramount place in the whole question of adoption."

Quoting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) in 2003, and after setting out what Catholic Caring Services must do to comply with the requirements of Catholic teaching, Bishop O'Donoghue says: "If however you are not willing to do this and if you insist on considering adoption applications from same-sex couples – an approach in direct conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church – then with great sadness and regret I would have no alternative but to require Catholic Caring Services to take appropriate steps to remove its Catholic designation and confirm that it accepts that it will in future be acting independently of the Lancaster Diocese."

The reason why the bishop's stand on same-sex couple adoption is so important for the pro-life cause can be found in Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae. In paragraph 97, Pope John Paul teaches that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

Sadly, Bishop O'Donoghue contrasts sharply with the approach adopted by the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales on the separate but related issue of British government and EU law on the equal employment rights of male and female homosexuals, and bisexuals and transsexuals, which is to be enforced with the threat of severe legal sanctions.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has produced Diversity and Equality Guidelines, a policy statement which (whilst it includes elements of Catholic doctrine) welcomes, seeks to implement and states that it will monitor this Government policy within the Church, including in Catholic schools.

The bishops’ document speaks about welcoming “the social and cultural changes which are required of us…”. It says “…it would be wrong to give some forms [of the six forms of discrimination listed by the Government] greater or lesser importance than others.” The document says that Catholics “must understand and comply with discrimination legislation”.

The bishops’ document calls on “those with authority at all levels of the church to be more aware of whether different groups are represented in the many facets of life of the Church e.g. schools…” and the bishops say: “…Organisations, institutions and diocese should consider appointing or entrusting someone with responsibility for diversity and equality”. Finally, the bishops warn: “We … intend to review progress … in two years”.

With the bishops of England and Wales now welcoming and guaranteeing the presence of homosexual, bisexual and transsexual teachers in Catholic schools in England and Wales, and in the light of Evangelium Vitae, paragraph 97 (above), is it not completely unrealistic to expect that Catholic sexual morality, including the sacredness of human life before birth, will be taught in these schools?

A pro-abortion document, prepared at the request of the EU Commission on the right to conscientious objection, links rights relating to sexual orientation to other supposed rights, including the “right” to abortion and the “right” to euthanasia and assisted suicide. The document quotes, in part, the Diversity and Equality Guidelines of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in a generally approving way. The bishops’ guidelines and the EU experts’ document clearly agree that, subject to limited and narrow exceptions, Catholic organisations must ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment than another on the grounds of sexual orientation.