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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Government Conspires With Catholic Church To Subvert Its Own Law

The Government’s offer of funding for the Catholic Church to find a way round the law that bans Catholic adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples was condemned today as an insult to democracy.

The deal was revealed in a news item on the Vatican news site Zenit

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “This is an extraordinary development which reveals the inordinate influence of the Catholic Church at work in the Government. Why on earth did New Labour bring in this law to protect gay people from discrimination if it is now seeking ways to exempt people from it? It illustrates that the Government’s commitment to real equality is not as wholehearted as they would have us believe.”

Mr Sanderson said that the Catholic bishops’ claim that the confrontation was completely the fault of the Government was a case of special pleading gone mad. “All they have to do is obey the law and there would be no confrontation,” said Mr Sanderson. “Instead, the bishops have been conniving with the Government behind closed doors to find a method of getting their way when they couldn’t do it democratically. If public money is used in this way to subvert laws that have been approved by an elected parliament, it will set a very dangerous precedent.”

“The Roman Catholic Church seems unable to grasp that the purpose of the legislation is to open up potential adoptees to the widest possible pool of adopters, and this they refuse to do. This is why their claim that gay couples can go to other agencies simply does not cut ice.

“The Church’s stance on this matter is not just bigoted and callous, it is incoherent. Archbishop Nichols has admitted on television that the Church accepts homosexual individuals as adopters, but will not do so if they are in a civil partnership, which is much more likely to indicate a stable family life, a key characteristic sought in adopters”.

In 2004 The Boston Globe revealed that Catholic charities in the USA had reacted to similar legislation by accommodating it: the newspaper discovered that they had facilitated 13 adoptions of children by same-sex couples. At this point the Vatican intervened, reminding Boston that Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had declared such legislation as the state of Massachusetts had enacted to be "the legalisation of evil". Ratzinger is now Pope.

November 20 2007


Published Tue, 20 Nov 2007