Catholic Care judgement – the Devil is in the detail
And so it was that the Roman Catholic adoption agencies – suddenly obliged by statute to place the nation’s most vulnerable with same-sex adoptive couple in contravention of their millennia-old doctrine, their religious ethos and the traditional understanding of the family – were terminated.
And if they were not terminated, they merged with cultic-sounding secular organisations and surrendered the Catholic brand by which they have served God and country for over a century.
New Labour’s 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations were the fulfillment of the long-promised ‘equality’ for homosexuals in the provision of goods and services. In the hierarchy of rights, they trumped the rights of Christians in their own homes and businesses, and even in the Church.
It was only a matter of time before extremist homosexualist equalitists began demanding their ‘rights’ at the altar – in matrimony as well as the Eucharist: excommunication itself would become an illegal discrimination, and, after centuries of religio-political conflict in the British Isles, the State will finally have triumphed over the Church.
Cranmer exhorted the Catholic adoption agencies to find their backbone: “Where is their moral fibre?” he asked. “Where is their conviction, their faith, their capacity to endure until the end?”
But it appeared that they just don’t make martyrs like they used to.
His Grace exhorted Catholic Care to bring their case to court instead of simply complying with the unjust legislation.
And Mark Wiggin, chief executive of Catholic Care, was suddenly possessed by the spirit of Thomas More.
Catholic Care alone remained open, and they alone challenged this anti-Christian Government in the courts.
And yesterday they won a battle.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Arthur Roche, issued the following statement:
‘The Court has confirmed that Catholic Care was correct in its reading of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 and has agreed with us that Regulation 18 can apply to any charity subject to it being in the public interest. We look forward to producing evidence to the Charity Commission to support the position that we have consistently taken through this process that without being able to use this exemption children without families would be seriously disadvantaged.
'Catholic Care has been providing specialist adoption services for over 100 years. We have helped hundreds of children though the recruitment, assessment, training and support for prospective adoptive parents as well as offering on-going and post-adoption support to families that give such security and love for some of the most vulnerable children in our society. The judgement today will help in our determination to continue to provide this invaluable service to benefit children, families and communities.'
Rejoice, rejoice. His Grace says it again, rejoice.
This was never about ‘homophobia’, but what is best for the children.
It was never concerned with diminishing the dignity of the homosexual, but with prioritising the security of the child.
Of course, the fundamentalist secularists and extremist homosexualists are incensed that anyone engaged in delivering a publicly-funded service should be given licence to pick and choose service users ‘on the basis of individual prejudice’.
But there is universal celebration among Christian groups that an important principle had been upheld. According to the judgment, it appears that Catholic adoption agencies might be exempt from the Sexual Orientation Regulations because of the ‘arguably pre-eminent needs of those children who will otherwise be left unadopted (which) may constitute a very special and unusual case for recognition under Article 14, quite unlike any other to be found in the existing jurisprudence, but none the worse for that’.
And so Mr Justice Briggs ordered the Charity Commission to reconsider the plight of Catholic Care in the light of his judgement.
This is, of course, good news.
But it is not a final victory.
And for this reason His Grace, being, like Qoheleth, naturally inclined to pessimism and cynicism because there is nothing new under the sun, did not leap with glee.
He rather suspected the Devil might be in the detail.
And indeed he is, having taken up residence within the British Government whilst on a break from his duties in the Vatican.
If the justification put forward by Catholic Care had been based on the need to respect the traditions and beliefs of the Church, then the ruling would have been highly significant: it would have turned the emergent hierarchy of rights on its head. But Catholic Care did not argue that that they should be allowed to discriminate against homosexual couples on the grounds of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. And if they had argued this, the Judge makes it clear that their appeal would have failed.
The Judge found that the Charity Commission had misread the law and so bounced it back to the Commission to decide, on the proper application of the law, whether the public benefit in placing children as agency of last resort outweighed the discriminatory effect or vice versa.
This was not a judgement establishing the supremacy of the Christian conscience: it was not a ruling in favour of religious liberty.
It is observed that Catholic Care are 1-0 up at half time, no more.
The Charity Commissioners have leave to appeal and may simply apply to have this judgment overturned.
And they may well win.
And they are likely to win because the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has left Catholic Care isolated.
If they had all remained united and true to their convictions instead of simply giving in and falling by the wayside one by one, there would have been a far more powerful witness and a more convincing martyrdom.