Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Catholic Attack on Tolerance

The first salvo of the predicted attack on the forthcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations in the delivery of goods, access and services, was shot today quite unsurprisingly by the Catholic Church. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, sent a letter to every Cabinet member basically trying to bully or blackmail the government into giving the Church further exemptions in the regulations to what they already have.

Very fine tactics to use, if you ask me, as a responsible institution perporting to give vulnerable youths a positive moral example.

In his letter, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "We believe it would be unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the government to insist that if they wish to continue to work with local authorities, Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the Church and their own consciences by being obliged in law to provide such a service."

He said the closure of the Church's seven agencies would represent a wholly avoidable "tragedy".

The Catholic Church's agencies are said to handle 4%, or about 200, of all adoptions a year. However they handle about a third of those children judged difficult to place.

Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, herself a staunch Catholic, is reported to be considering granting the Church an opt-out clause with the apparent support of the Prime Minister. However, several members of the cabinet and other Labour personalities (Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Education, Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary and current Leader of the House of Commons, David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, the Environment Minister, Peter Hain, the Nothern Ireland Minister, Angela Eagle, the vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda and even Blairite loyalists such as Tessa Jowell (Culture Secretary) and Lord Falconer (Lord Chancellor)) have already come out against the move.

I have to agree with Murphy-O'Connor though: this is wholly avoidable. The Catholic Church simply has to get off its (rather shaky, at the best of times) moral highground and think about its duty towards the children they pretend to be thinking about. I can't help be notice that Murphy-O'Connor does not seem to be thinking about the discriminations incurred by those children, should his Church abandon its work.

At the end of the day, however, I believe that the Church is shooting itself in the foot in this instance. As the BBC website reports, they only "handle" 200 adoptions a year. Surely there are other more tolerant and open minded agencies out there in a position to stand in and let the Church wallow in its smug bigotry. This is not going to improve their image.

After all gay people were given the right to adopt a year ago (December 2005) and what the law allows, a minority Church is in no position to oppose or change, however grievious the thought may be for its members. As I mentioned in a previous post: this is is wider than simply religious conscience. After all Church have made all sorts of compromises and adjustments to their doctrines along the years (simply read the much quoted Leviticus, where the Bible's strongest and almost only condamnation of homosexuality as an abomination is to be found, to find evidence of this). No, religious leader are simply scared to loose their power...

News flash: they already have.

Futher reading:
* Kelly in new storm over gay law, The Independent - 21 January 2007
* Catholics refuse to accept gay adoption law, The Times - 23 January 2007
* Children are ignored in gay adoption row The Telegraph - 23 January 2007

Previous Posts:
*The Lords Vote on the Sexual Orientation Regulations
* No Comment Needed
* Christians: "Get Over It and Get On With It"
* Further "Christian" Attacks
* Sexual Orientation Regulations - The Demo
* Anti-Freedom Demo Today Outside Parliament
* Sexual Orientation Regulations, Letter To Ruth Kelly
* Sexual Orientation Regulations, The Saga Continues
* Anti-Gay Christians Strike Again - Part 2
* Anti-Gay Christians Strike Again

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