Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catholic adoption agencies queing to secularize

Briefing. More charities who have received money for Catholic purposes will be using it for non-Catholic purposes.

From CFNews: The Catholic Children's Rescue Society of the Diocese of Salford will halt a service it has provided since its foundation in 1886 by the time the Government's new homosexual rights legislation comes into force on New Year's Day. Kathy Batt, the director of the CCRS, said the agency would no longer recruit, assess or approve adoptive applicants, though it will continue to provide its post-adoption support services. 'The decision has been taken with regret by the trustees who have been fully informed all the way along,' she said. 'We did not want to separate from the diocese as other agencies have, though that is no criticism of them,' she said. 'In Salford it was quite clear that we did not want to break with the diocese because we have a faith-based agency and the patronage of the Church is very important to us.'

Bishop Terence Brain of Salford, the chairman of the CCRS, said the move to pull out of adoption was partly because of 'legal pressures'. A new social services charity called Caritas Salford Diocese will now be formed from a merger of CCRS and the diocese's Catholic Welfare Societies. Jim Dobbin, a Manchester Labour MP and a Catholic, said he was sure many people would be 'upset' by the demise of the adoption service. 'It is a tragedy,' said Mr Dobbin, the MP for Heywood and Middleton. 'There is a shortage of people willing to adopt generally in the country and there is something very wrong when some of the better and more efficient agencies feel they have to close because they can't conform to what the Government is demanding. I don't think there was any need for this legislation at all. It was forced through and was all done to avoid discrimination but all it has done is to introduce discrimination against agencies that operate according to the principles of a religious faith. The Government will rue the day when it pursued this line of action. It smacks of a secular attack on the Catholic Church.'

The decision comes a week after one of the largest Catholic adoption agencies confirmed it would cut ties with the Church in order to comply with the Sexual Orientation Regulations that were introduced under the Equality Act 2006 to ban discrimination against homosexuals in the provision of goods and services and to stay open for business. The Catholic Children's Society of Arundel and Brighton, Southwark and Portsmouth, founded in 1887, deals with about 50 of the 250 annual adoptions handled by the 13 Catholic adoption agencies of England and Wales. The agency has an annual turnover of about £4.5 million, most of which comes from government grants and contracts, but more than £500,000 a year is raised by Catholics in southern England through schools, parish gifts, wills and personal donations. Its annual 'Good Shepherd' appeal in schools and churches alone raises more than £100,000 a year.

The dioceses of Northampton and Nottingham also announced in April that they will withdraw from adoption and that their agencies - which place a combined 30 children a year with new families - will become independent. They will then be able to place children with gay couples but will no longer be able to appeal to Catholics for financial support. Other agencies must decide their futures over the summer in order to meet the deadline set by Tony Blair last year. The trustees of the Catholic Caring Services adoption agency of the Diocese of Lancaster in April voted by eight to two to cut ties with the Church in order to continue its work in finding new homes for 25 children a year and to protect the jobs of 200 staff involved in a range of social work.

But on Sunday Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster issued a letter through the parishes appealing to the trustees to reconsider their decision. He became the first bishop to declare publicly that he is willing to fight to retain his adoption agency, founded in 1934, in the control of the Church. 'Over the generations thousands of Catholics have prayed and contributed to this vital work carried out by their Catholic agency,' the bishop wrote. 'It would not only be heartbreaking, but also a tragedy, if decisions are taken that break this relationship.' The bishop suggested the trustees should amend the constitution to make it clear that the charity operated in accordance only with the religious principles of the Catholic faith. This, he argued, would be legally defensible under the freedom of religion clauses of the Equality Act 2006. 'This would mean that unmarried heterosexual couples would be rejected as prospective parents in the same way and on the same basis as same-sex couples,' he said.

The trustees of the charity and the bishop plan to meet this month to agree a final course of action. Neil Addison, a Liverpool-based Catholic barrister, said there was anger among Catholics at the apparent readiness of the agencies to become independent from the Church. 'Charity trustees seem to assume that they can stop being a Catholic charity and then simply carry on,' he said. But he said the charities were 'established by Catholics and given Catholic money on the basis that it would be used in accordance with Catholic beliefs. To use its funds for un-Catholic purposes seems unethical and possibly illegal,' said Mr Addison.

'It is sad that various Catholic charities are choosing to simply give up without even testing the law first. If gay rights activists had shown the same lack of moral courage homosexuality would still be illegal. If the adoption agencies had stood their ground I think even many gays would have supported them. The destruction of the traditional family is the greatest source of social evil in our society today and Catholic charities need to defend the family.' The bishops have repeatedly complained that they are being forced to give up control of their adoption agencies by the Government. They argue that the agencies cannot remain Catholic and comply with the new rules. One adoption agency chief executive has described the situation as the 'darkest hour in 150 years of Catholic social work in Britain'. The Government is still struggling to find new homes for many of the 4,000 children in care. Official figures last year revealed a 13 per cent fall in the number of children adopted, in spite of a target to increase adoptions by 50 per cent. [Catholic Herald]

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen