Why we should care about Catholic Care
But no-one is looking amongst us; our eyes are diverted from the enemy within.
His Grace has been pondering the judgement in the case of Catholic Care – a charity which sought exemption from equality laws which prohibit discrimination against same-sex couples wanting to adopt. The charity simply wished to follow their conscience and continue to place adoptive children with heterosexual parents, in accordance with their understanding of Christian orthodoxy and the desire to adhere to Church tradition, not to mention the research which clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship.
After two years of tenacious arguing (which His Grace has supported, exhorted, and encouraged), they have had their final appeal rejected: they now either agree to place children with homosexual couples or they close. The Tribunal determined that ‘Religious belief is... protected by ECHR and by the Equality Act 2010 in certain private circumstances’. But adoption is a public service, funded in part by local authorities, so does not have the same exemptions under the Equality Act 2010 as those which cover private religious worship, as the charity had pleaded.
Catholic Care argued that if it were to close, children would be left unadopted. The tribunal acknowledged there would be ‘a loss to society if the charity's skilled staff were no longer engaged in the task of preparing potential adopters to offer families to children awaiting an adoption placement’. But the panel said it had to balance the risk of closure of the charity's adoption service - which it said was ‘by no means certain’ - against the ‘detriment to same-sex couples and the detriment to society generally of permitting the discrimination proposed’.
The charity argued that its stance attracted potential adopters who did not approach other agencies. It told the tribunal that same-sex couples could get adoption services from local authorities and other voluntary agencies and said failure to secure the exemption would hit the voluntary donations which keep it afloat.
Responding to the ruling, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds Arthur Roche said: "Catholic Care is very disappointed with this ruling. The trustees are considering their position and whether or not to appeal. It is unfortunate that those who will suffer as a consequence of this ruling will be the most vulnerable children for whom Catholic Care has provided an excellent service for many years.
"It is an important point of principle that the charity should be able to prepare potential adoptive parents, a service recognised for its excellence by the local authorities who are responsible for placing children, according to the tenets of the Catholic faith."
The full judgement may be found HERE. Of interest is the utterly reasonable response of the charity to any homosexual couples who sought to use their services: they didn’t tell them they suffered from an ‘objective disorder’, were guilty of mortal sin and would go to hell: they helpfully pointed them to ‘other voluntary adoption agencies and local authorities’. The Charity argued that unless it were permitted to continue to discriminate as proposed, it would no longer be able to raise the voluntary income from its supporters.
The Commission asked the Tribunal to dismiss the appeal and relied upon case law on this issue – specifically Islington London Borough Council v Ladele and Eunice and Owen Johns v Derby City Council.
The Tribunal heard oral evidence from the Right Reverend Arthur Roche, the ex-officio Chairman of the Charity. He is responsible for ensuring that its activities are within the tenets of the Church: “in effect I am the arbiter of faith in respect of the activities of the Charity”.
The Bishop told the Tribunal that the Church’s teaching is that a full sexual union without marriage is unacceptable, so that adoption services could not be offered by the Charity to unmarried heterosexual couples or to same sex couples. He did not think it generally acceptable for a single person to adopt, although he was aware that the Charity had in the past placed a child for adoption with a single adopter. He said he could not explain why the Charity’s website apparently suggested that single adopters were able to use the Charity’s services and said that whilst he was involved in setting the Charity’s policies, he did not necessarily know what went onto its website.Helpful, huh?
The Charity’s proposed objects (as currently drafted) did not seek to discriminate against same sex foster carers. The Commission had been informed by the Charity during the internal review process that the Charity did not object to placing children with same sex foster carers because this did not involve the creation of a family. When asked about this, the Bishop disagreed with this statement of the Charity’s policies and said he did not know why the proposed objects had been drafted in that way. He did not think the Charity had ever placed a child for fostering with a same sex couple and did not think it should. He thought that if a same sex couple who were already fostering a child applied to the Charity for assistance to adopt it, they would be referred to another voluntary adoption agency.So, ‘the arbiter of faith in respect of the activities of the Charity’ disagrees with the Charity’s policies.
He did not think that the Charity could re-structure so as to be able to continue its adoption work because he said the necessary financial backing from its supporters would not be available. He said that “the people who provide us with funds have clear views on these matters”. The Bishop told the Tribunal that he did not know how many Catholics supported same sex adoptions, he just knew that the stance the Charity had adopted in this matter had attracted much support. When asked if a change of stance might not in fact attract new supporters who did not oppose same sex adoptions, he responded that this was untested water.It’s good when your key witness is so well prepared.
When asked to describe how the ability to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation would assist the Charity in its work, he explained that charities want their income to be applied to their own vision of what is in the best interests of the child. He thought that voluntary income had dropped off in areas such as Birmingham and Cardiff when there had been de-mergers of voluntary adoption agencies from the Church. The Bishop told the Tribunal that he agreed with the principle that a child should have the widest possible pool of potential adopters. He said he had heard that same sex couples rarely adopt hard to place children, although when directed to the evidence before the Tribunal which contradicted that view...he was prepared to accept that he might be mistaken on that point.
The Tribunal had before it a letter which had been sent unsolicited to the Charity Commission by the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and which stated that other Catholic adoption agencies which had been required to change their way of operating in order to comply with equality legislation had continued to attract support from ‘Catholics (including Bishops), showing that intransigent opposition to adoption by same sex couples is not an essential element to a Catholic ethos”.
And so the Tribunal concluded that basically because Bishop Arthur Roche was all at sea and the Gay Catholic Movement said some Catholics do offer financial support to adoption agencies which provide services to same sex adopters, Catholic Care has no case. They also (of course) took into account ‘the European authorities as to the dis-benefit to society arising from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation’.
But here’s the crucial section of the judgement:
...religious conviction in the sphere of personal belief is protected in both domestic and European equality law, so that acts of devotion, worship, and prayer (including ceremonies) are exempt from equality obligations. However, with the greatest of respect to the Bishop, his argument overlooked the essential distinction between private acts of worship such as blessings and the provision of a public service such as an adoption agency. In other words, in advancing this argument, the Bishop did not take account of the law by which the Tribunal is bound.This is not a question of ‘homophobia’ (though the allegations will come as swiftly as those of 'bigotry'), and neither is it some irrational prejudice: most Christians will reasonably agree that there may be instances where placing children with a single parent or a gay couple is preferable to a loveless life in a local authority children’s home. This is about the Christian conscience and the freedom to act in accordance with it. This judgement makes clear that there is now no question that Christians may no longer manifest their beliefs in the public sphere on this issue of sexual ethics: they may no longer worship God in spirit and in truth in their daily lives; they may no longer make their bodies a living sacrifice or act in accordance with their consciences, biblical teaching or Church history. Cardinal Keith O’Brien was quite right.
We are told to render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar: the traditional view of marriage, family and sexual ethics do not; they belong to God. The time may be at hand for the law of the State to be confronted by the Law of the Church. Let them bring you to Court: He promises to give you the words (+Arthur couldn’t have been listening):
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.It is not the EU which is responsible for this; it is our politicians. They are doing the job of the Germans, Russians, mad mullahs and Darth Vader combined.
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you (Mt 10:16-20).
Either the Conservative Government repeals the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010 (not to mention the European Communities Act 1972), or we will forever be subject to and bound by precepts which violate natural law, deny our liberties and offend against our customs and traditions.
If you don’t care about Catholic care, you have already surrendered freedom of religion.