Now Reading
Why Pope must act on Catholic adoption agencies refusing to place kids with gay parents

Why Pope must act on Catholic adoption agencies refusing to place kids with gay parents

Pope Francis says US catholics are committed to a 'truly tolerant and inclusive' society
David Hudson
David Hudson

Pope Francis is currently in the middle of his high-profile first visit to the US. Yesterday, in a speech at the White House, he said that American Catholics are committed to building a society ‘which is truly tolerant and inclusive’.

Examples of when the Catholic church has not been ‘truly tolerant and inclusive’ are not hard to find: Churches have refused communion to LGBT individuals; Catholic schools have sacked gay staff; the church’s hierarchy have spoken out strongly against same-sex marriage.

However, as much as all these examples anger me, what I believe shames the church greatest is the determination of Catholic-run adoption services to refuse to place children in desperate need of a home with LGBT couples or individuals.

Its intolerance towards LGBT adults – who are able to exercise a degree of choice – is one matter; needlessly keeping children in care when there are loving homes wishing to take them in, is another.

Scandals involving the Catholic Church and children are nothing new. The 2013 movie, Philomena, served as a reminder of the brutal treatment dished out by the Magdalene Sisters in Ireland towards young mothers and their babies during the middle decades of the 20th century.

Then, of course, there are the thousands of victims who have found the courage to speak out about abuses that they suffered when younger at the hands of pedophile priests.

In 2014, Pope Francis met with six victims of clerical sex abuse, apologized to them, and asked for forgiveness. It has been speculated that he may meet with other victims when he visits Philadelphia this weekend.

Given all of the above, one would think that the Church would therefore be falling over itself to act in the best interests of any youngesters within its care.

However, earlier this year, for a second year running, two Republican senators – Wyoming’s Mike Enzi and Pennsylvania’s Mike Kelly – introduced their ‘Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act’ to Congress.

The act received endorsement last year from the US Conference of Bishops and has again received the support of bishops in 2015.

In a nutshell, the act wants to ensure that religiously-affiliated adoption agencies continue to receive state and federal funding, even if they feel, ‘due to sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions’, that they are unable to place children with particular prospective parents.

The senators were prompted to draft the legislature after several states – including Massachusetts, California, Illinois and the District of Columbia – threatened to withdraw funding from Catholic adoption agencies unless they treated all couples equally.

In June, Michigan passed a law, allowing Catholic adoption to continue to receive state funding even if they refused LGBT prospective parents on faith-based grounds. Alabama, Texas and Florida have introduced similar legislature in the past few months.

Catholic adoption agencies unequivocally want to place children with married mothers and fathers only – and not with gay prospective parents. In fact, given the choice between placing children with LGBT households and losing their funding, the agencies in Massachusetts, California, Illinois decided to instead close.

They will no doubt argue that they have the best interests of children in mind, yet several studies have shown that children in LGBT-led households grow up at no disadvantage to those from opposite-sex households.

In fact, last year, researchers at Melbourne University published the results of an Australian survey, concluding that children in same-sex parent families had higher scores when measured in terms of general behavior, general health and family cohesion when compared to the wider population.

A report published by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, which took an overview of contemporary LGB-parent family research, similarly concluded that gay parents and their children are doing ‘well’.

There are hundreds of thousands of children in the US foster care system (approximately 400,000 – with just over 100,000 available for adoption today); There are a shortage of people wishing to adopt; Most social care experts agree that it is better for children to grow up in a loving home than in a care home environment; and studies show that gay people committed to the idea of starting a family tend to make great parents.

Despite this, Catholic adoption agencies do not wish to allow gay people to adopt.

I was raised a Catholic and some of the most caring and selfless people I know adhere to the Catholic faith. I am sure that many people working within Catholic adoption agencies care deeply for the kids in their charge.

However, the fact remains that US Bishops support a bill that could prolong the time that children spend in care homes – when they could be making great strides within loving families.

That is not a demonstration of tolerance and inclusivity; more a damaging and misguided neglect of duty.



Main image: / Korean Culture and Information Service. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons