Three cheers for Catholic Care
The Charity Tribunal has confirmed that Catholic Care has applied for an appeal against the decision to the Upper Tribunal. If that appeal is granted, it will be the charity's fourth appeal.
You have to admire their tenacity. His Grace has consistently urged, supported and exhorted the charity to pursue this to its litigious end, not least because it consitutes a fundamentally important point of religious liberty: when the state determines to outlaw centuries of orthodox belief and practice on the basis of 'equality', there is no logical end to what the state may impose upon believers.
The charity facilitates about five adoptions a year: it is absurd to suggest that homosexual couples who wish to adopt are being discriminated against by this group. The charity is persuaded that their supporters will cease their donations if they are obliged to place children with homosexual couples. They argue that the Equality Act 2010 allows discrimination on the grounds of sexuality if this is 'a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'.
There are, of course, some who will view it unacceptably bigoted of the charitry to seek to place children with heterosexual couples. There are others who will question the Christian conviction of donors who might cease their charitable giving should Catholic Care be obliged to consider homosexual couples. Still others would like to see them closed down altogether, along with all religious groups in receipt of public funds.
But this is not a question of ‘homophobia’ (though the allegations will flow), 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 homosexual 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 April judgement made it 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
When the last appeal was lost, Bishop Arthur Roche said: '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.'
When Labour were in power, the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith observed: "This is a tragedy. We are taking the ethos out of these adoption agencies and leaving them with a crisis, all because the Government wouldn’t listen."
Well, Labour are no longer in power, but it appears that Conservative hands are tied by being in coalition with the Liberal Democrats who seek to perpetuate the injustice and secularise the nation (if Dr Evan Harris has anything to do with it). It will take a majority Conservative government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.
In the meantime, we must thank God that there are people like Mark Wiggin, the charity's Chief Executive, who is clearly possessed of the stuff of which martyrs are made.