In Adoption Debate, Bishops Choose Partisan Agenda Over Children’s Welfare

With the blessing of the state’s Catholic bishops, Texas legislators passed a bill that would allow religiously-affiliated social services to deny LGBT people from full participation in adoption and foster care programs. But whose interests are being served by this incoming law?

shutterstock_548148214_810_500_55_s_c1The Freedom to Serve Children Act was passed by both Texas’ House of Representatives and Senate in May. Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign it, reported Crux.  The news story reported that once the bill becomes law, it will have “multiple applications,” including:

“It could allow groups that believe children should be placed only with a married adoptive mother and father to provide foster services without facing lawsuits from same-sex couples.”

Supporters claim the bill will improve services for children. For example, State Senator Eddie Lucio, a Democrat, said the bill is “about providing homes for kids.” The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops also lauded the bill, with Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon saying:

“‘Now Catholics can join other people of good will and serve Texas’s children in good faith. . .Most Catholic Charities in the state had withdrawn from serving foster children. . .The new law removes a significant barrier to Catholics serving children in the foster care system and will trigger greater recruitment efforts by Catholic parishes and ministries.'”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supported similar legislation at the federal level, saying the proposed “Inclusion Act” would end “unjust discrimination” currently imposed on Catholic social service providers who cannot receive government funding if they discriminate against LGBT people.

Adoption rights have been a highly controversial matter as LGBT equality has expanded. Despite more supportive stances held by Catholics in the pews, church leaders have sought to protect discriminatory policies.

The Missionary Sisters of Charity, the community which Mother Teresa founded, stopped facilitating adoptions in 2015 because they feared single gay people would become parents. Scotland’s St. Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society successfully attained the right to discriminate against LGBT clients. And, according to an unconfirmed report from one of Malta’s bishops, Pope Francis was “shocked” in 2014 to find out that same-gender couples could be granted adoption rights in the island nation. Catholic birth parents unsuccessfully sued in Australia to bar a lesbian couple from adopting their child.

In the United States, church-affiliated social services providers have ended adoption services in Illinois, Massachusetts, and other states, as well as the District of Columbia. Bishops supported passage of a South Dakota law that is similar to the proposed bill in Texas, with Catholic Social Services even helping to co-write the law.

Critics, like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign, said the Texas bill would, in the words of HRC’s Marty Rouse, “prioritize discrimination over the best interest of kids in the child welfare system.”

It is hard not to agree that children are victims of this proposed law. Catholic social service providers are not facing a threat to their religious liberty. They are concerned because discriminating against LGBT adoptive and foster parents excludes them from participation in government systems and, crucially, funding sources.  Texas’ upcoming law and similar legislation are hardly about the freedom to serve children.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 11, 2017


U.S. Bishops Back “Inclusion Act,” Which Seeks to Exclude LGBT Adoptive Parents

Attempting to redefine what inclusion means, the U.S. bishops endorsed the U.S. House of Representatives’ “Inclusion Act,” which aims to protect social services agencies who exclude same-gender couples from being foster or adoptive parents. Crux reported:

“Three bishops, in a joint letter to the measure’s sponsor, voiced their support of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would permit social service agencies to refuse on religious grounds to provide adoption or foster services for households headed by same-sex couples.”

USCCB headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The three church leaders behind the letter–Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore;  and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska–are the respective chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Religious Liberty;and the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

Bishops claim the Act, if passed, would advance religious liberty by ending “unjust discrimination” against those providers who deny services to people based on the agency’s religious and moral beliefs. The bishops also claimed:

“‘Women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.'”

Controversies about adoption rights have increased in the last decade as more jurisdictions legalize same-gender couples’ rights to marriage or civil unions. In the U.S., Catholic Charities and other church-related agencies have stopped providing adoption services in Massachusetts, Illinois, and the District of Columbia because as government-funded organizations they could not exclude LGBT clients.

Church institutions elsewhere have followed a similar pattern despite more supportive stances held by Catholics in the pews. The Missionary Sisters of Charity, the community which Mother Teresa founded, stopped facilitating adoptions in 2015 because they feared single gay people would become parents. Scotland’s St. Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society successfully attained the right to discriminate against LGBT clients. And, according to an unconfirmed report from one of Malta’s bishops, Pope Francis was “shocked” in 2014 to find out that same-gender couples could be granted adoption rights in the island nation.

[Editor’s note: a follow-up post on Bondings 2.0 later this week will dig deeper into the intricacies in these issues by exploring a story from Australia about Catholic parents, LGBT rights, and adoption.]

Given the U.S. political environment, including Judge Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court, it is uncertain whether the so-called Inclusion Act will succeed. But even if the legislation fails, there is a larger issue for Catholics at play. We must not allow the rich concept of inclusion, a defining value of Jesus’ ministry, to be hijacked by church officials for their LGBT-negative agenda.

Real inclusion, in the law and in the church, would recognize that the greater good is for children to be in loving homes, and for families to be strengthened by the protections and assistance which the State can offer. Those ideals are deeply rooted in the Catholic social tradition. It is from these places from which we should be the basis of Catholic adoption policy.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 18, 2017

New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis, is scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago, Illinois. Plenary speakers:  Lisa Fullam, Leslie Griffin, Rev. Bryan Massingale, Frank Mugisha. Prayer leaders:  Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv.  Pre-Symposium Retreat Leader:  Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS.  For more information and to register, visit


Mother Teresa’s Order End Adoptions over Fears Gay People Might Provide Loving Homes for Children

Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity

Missionaries of Charity Sisters in India, the order founded by Mother Teresa, are withdrawing from adoption work over fears that single gay and lesbian folks might welcome a child into their homes.

Appealing to India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority, the Missionaries have “sought de-recognition” of 13 of their 16 orphanages in the country, reported The Huffington Post.

New guidelines from the Ministry of Women and Child Development which permit individuals to adopt caused “ideological differences,” explained by Sister Amala, who runs an orphanage in North Delhi. She explained:

” ‘The new guidelines hurt our conscience. They are certainly not for religious people like us. … What if the single parent who we give our baby [to] turns out to be gay or lesbian? What security or moral upbringing will these children get? Our rules only allow married couples to adopt.’ “

In an interview with  The Independent , Sister Amala said that children “may not receive real love” if they are not placed with a heterosexual couple. The Times of India reported two incidents where Missionaries rejected single parents already, though whether it was due to their sexual orientations is unclear.

The new guidelines, aimed at increasing transparency, do eliminate the Missionaries ability to discriminate at will against LGBT people and others seeking to provide a loving home for children. The sisters also object to the fact prospective adoptive parents will be able to choose from one of six children, rather than being assigned by the Missionaries themselves. While adoptions by the Missionaries of Charity have ceased, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi is hopeful that because “they are good people,” the sisters can be persuaded to reverse their decision, reported National Public Radio.

In the meantime, other organizations already strapped for resources, including Catholic ones, are forced to fill gaps left by the Missionaries’ decision. The Washington Post reported:

“In New Delhi, [the Missionaries of Charity] has transferred six unadopted children to Holy Cross Social Services, a Catholic organization. . .

” ‘We are seeing a sudden rise in children coming to our adoption home. It could be because the Missionaries of Charity is not accepting any more,’ said Lorraine Campos, assistant director of Palna, one of the oldest adoption homes in the capital.”

Veerendra Mishra, secretary of the Central Adoption Resource Authority, is clear in her comment to Hindustan Times that for any progress, the Missionaries of Charity will “have to abide” by the new rule. She continued:

” ‘We told them there is a no reason to refuse a single parent who is eligible and fulfills all conditions in the guidelines. Why deny a good home to a child where there are such a large number of children in orphanages waiting to be adopted.’ “

Missionaries of Charity orphanage in India

The question is a good one given that India has an estimated 30 million children who have been orphaned or abandoned, according to The Washington Post. This is the highest number in the world and india’s adoption system is woefully inadequate at the moment with only 0.4% of such children being adopted.

It is an admittedly broken process to which the Missionaries of Charity should be positively contributing rather than withdrawing from over ideological purity. As The New Civil Rights Movement editorialized:

“Thirty million children in need of loving parents? Perhaps someone could explain to the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity that when Jesus said ‘Suffer the little children…’ this was not what he meant.”

Denying adoption to parents in nontraditional situations goes back to Mother Teresa herself, according to one Hindustan Times columnist, who suggested the foundress “had very definite ideas on who could be a parent and who could not.” Lalita Panicker suggested that Mother Teresa and her order have “narrowed down the definition of humanity to exclude certain categories of people.” Panicker wrote:

“This is a retrogressive and harmful mindset, given the fact that many potential parents who wish to adopt children may not be able to fit the rigorous moral conditions of the Missionaries. And why on earth would a person’s sexual orientation be tantamount to a risk to the child? It is no one’s case that strict background checks not be conducted on prospective parents. . .

“The central principle of adoption is to give the child a happy upbringing in a secure and safe environment. The only consideration should be that the prospective parent/parents can provide this. . .If the Missionaries were to impose their conditions on adoption, chances are that we will have a lot more babies waiting for a very long time to get a home.”

The Missionaries of Charity’s decision seems particularly punitive given the state of sexual rights in India, which not only still bans adoption by lesbian and gay people but also re-criminalized homosexuality in 2013, a decision that was actually criticized by Catholic leaders.

The order’s decision primarily affects the 30 million orphaned and abandoned children, but also harms LGBT people whose very lives are at risk in India. This is highlighted by Vikram Johri at BoomLive, who characterized the Missionaries’ act as “a generalised, insensitive statement on the morals and values of the LGBT crowd.” Johri wrote:

“For gay people wanting to raise children, MoC’s argument can be exploited by right-wing groups looking to strip LGBT persons of their (already negligible) rights. The organisation has sought to frame its argument as a necessity for the protection of to-be-adopted children, and has thus played into vicious stereotypes that portray gays as incapable of being responsible adults, or worse, pedophiles. . .

“With poor adoption rates, the government should do everything in its power to ensure that more interested parents are able to adopt. LGBT couples make a natural choice in this regard.”

Indeed, if 30 million children lack loving homes and LGBT people are willing to provide them loving homes, it is eminently reasonable for these adoptions to be facilitated by the Indian government and Catholic organizations alike. Not facilitating these adoptions may adhere to the letter of the law of Mother Teresa’s ministry, but deviate from the spirit of her work. Though she was negative about lesbian and gay people, preferring to call them “friends of Jesus” rather than acknowledging their sexual orientation, the Missionaries under her leadership have set up AIDS hospices.

To not participate in Indian adoptions is not only discrimination and a deep injustice against LGBT, single, and divorced people, but is the act which actually denies children the security, moral upbringing, and real love the Missionaries profess. The Missionaries of Charity should look beyond a harmful legalism and dated prejudices to embrace instead Christ’s expansive love and accompany all those on the margins whom God loves most. That would be a real act of charity.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Pope’s Influence Fails to Move Slovaks to Oppose Marriage & Adoption Equality

Even with the endorsement of Pope Francis, a referendum to ban same-gender marriage and adoption by lesbian and gay couple in the heavily Catholic European nation of Slovakia failed due to extremely low voter turnout.

Billboard in Slovakia supporting ban on marriage and adoption equality.

At least 50% of the electorate would have had to participate in the referendum, but only 21.4% showed up at the polls,  according to Associated Press news story on

The Catholic bishops in Slovakia supported the referendum’s goals, and last week at the Vatican, Pope Francis encouraged a group of Slovakian pilgrims “to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.”  This statement was his most direct involvement in a national marriage equality debate.   In addition to the questions about marriage and adoption, the referendum also contained a question about allowing parents to remove their children from sex education classes in schools.

Because the referendum was dependent on a 50% turnout for it to be valid, those who opposed the anti-LGBT measures encouraged voters to refrain from voting.  That strategy seems to have worked. Deutsche Welle reported on the results:

“Ahead of Saturday’s vote, liberals gay rights activists and various media outlets had called on the nation’s electorate to boycott the referendum – a simple tactic which proved to be a success.

” ‘The result shows that a campaign full of prejudice … failed to mobilize people, which is very good news for Slovakia,’ activist Lucia Plavakova told Reuters news agency.”

Those who did turn out to vote overwhelmingly endorsed the ban on marriage equality (95%), adoption (92%), and allowing opting out of sex education (90%).   Slovakia already has a ban on same-gender marriage, civil unions, and adoption.  The referendum was meant to strengthen the bans legally.

One LGBT activist was hopeful following the vote, according to the Associated Press story:

“Romana Schlesinger, a LGBT activist said, she hoped the government will now work to make it possible for same-sex couples to live in registered partnership ‘because all our partnerships, our families are living without legal recognition or protection.’ “

More than 80% of Slovaks are Christian, and of these, most are Catholic.  Billboards (see photo above) picturing the pope giving a thumbs-up sign, with slogans supporting the referendum, appeared across the nation, but they seem to have been ineffective. offered the following explanatory caption for the photo above:

“A billboard depicting Pope Francis with his thumb up located at Klokocina district in Nitra, Slovakia, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, invites voters to the Slovak national referendum on the protection of the traditional family scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7. The Billboard slogans read (in clock-wise direction from left upper corner: ‘Come to referendum 7.2.2015,’  ‘Vote 3xYES’ and  ‘ “Slovakia fights brave today for the protection of the traditional family” (as a quotation) – Pope Francis, Jan. 22, 2015, in Rome.’ “

Yet, the pope’s role seemed to have little influence on the way that they voted. Despite his charismatic popularity among Catholics worldwide, it seems that Pope Francis’ political message against marriage equality is not as powerful as the power of people who want to respect human dignity, rights, and equality.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry



Elphin Bishop, Bert & Ernie, Gay Priests, and Colin Farrell Are All Involved in Ireland’s LGBT Debates

Earlier this week, we posted about the marriage equality debate happening now in Ireland, and the role of Catholic bishops and laity on both sides of the issue.  Today we will look at some other Catholic LGBT issues in both the Republic of Ireland and the six counties which comprise Northern Ireland. These issues include marriage benefits, adoption, religious liberty, and gay priests.

Bishop Kevin Doran

In the heavily Catholic Republic of Ireland, where the marriage equality debate is occurring, Bishop Kevin Doran of the diocese of Elphin, a strong advocate against marriage equality has also spoken in opposition to lesbian and gay couples adopting children.  In a talk in the city of Roscommon, Doran spoke about the importance of procreation in marriage and the idea of complementarity of the the sexes being important for child-rearing.

But Doran did make some concessions.  Gay Star News  reported:

“Although slamming gay marriage and adoption, Doran did say that the state should ensure gay couples in committed relationships should have inheritance and visiting rights in the event of illness or death. He also said that the church, ‘condemns without reservation words or actions which are intended to injure, ridicule or undermine homosexual people.’ “

Catholic opposition to adoption by gay and lesbian couples was also in the spotlight in the more Protestant Northern Ireland, where the Catholic bishops have chosen to sever ties with an adoption agency which has agreed to let such couples adopt.  Gay Star News provided details:

“The agency in question is The Family Care Society NI. The agency was originally founded by the Church and has offices in Belfast.

“Adoption laws were changed in Northern Ireland in 2012 to allow same-sex couples to adopt. . . .

“In a statement. . ., the Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland said, ‘It is unreasonable for legislators to oblige faith-based organizations to act against their fundamental and reasonable religious beliefs in the provision of services that contribute to the common good.

” ‘As a result the Family Care Society is now legally obliged to receive and process applications in accordance with the new and wider interpretation of adoption law established by the High Court decision.

” ‘Since the provision of adoption services in Northern Ireland now also involves acting against the Church’s teaching and ethos, we too have no option but to end the long established relationship between the Church and The Family Care Society NI.’ “

It is curious that when discussing adoption and Catholic teaching, these bishops only focus on the sexual relationship of the couple, and not the importance of a child being raised in a loving household.

Muppets Bert and Ernie

In a related story, Paul Givan, a politician with the heavily Protestant Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, has called for “reasonable accommodation” for religious conscience as part of his Freedom of Conscience Amendment Bill which he is proposing.  The bill was in response to a case in which a Christian baker refused to make a cake of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” and including the logo of Queerspace, an LGBTQ organization in Belfast.

The Irish nation has also had an inside view into the lives of some of its gay priests through the publication of a sociological study of priesthood by former seminarian Dr. John Weafer.

Entitled Thirty-Three Good Men: Celibacy, Obedience and Identity, the book examines the lives of a sampling of priests in the context of a variety of their life struggles.  The parts about gay priests have been receiving the most press attention.  The Huffington Post report on the book discussed one gay priest, known as Fr. L, who went on to have a sexual relationship with another priest:

“Fr L went on to discover a ‘clerical gay scene in Ireland,’ saying he believed there were ‘quite a lot of gay guys in the priesthood’ and during one visit to a gay bar in Dublin recognized at least nine priests in the venue.

“Weafer said he did not believe the church hierarchy would be surprised to read these revelations.

” ‘There is a support group for gay priests in Ireland and one respondent said a number of bishops had been invited and met with them in an informal setting,’ Weafer told The Huffington Post over the phone.”

In a story about the book in The Belfast Telegraph, the author noted the difficult situation gay priests live in:

“He believes that there are ‘quite a lot of gay guys in the priesthood’ and on one occasion when he went into a gay bar in Dublin, he recognised at least nine priests in the bar. . . .

” ‘As long as priests don’t go public and don’t flaunt those actions that don’t correspond with being a celibate priest’ they turn a blind eye, he claimed. . . .

“According to Dr Weafer: ‘If a priest was to say in the morning “I am gay,” he would be fired. Priests have learned to keep their heads down.’ “

Actor Colin Farrell and his gay brother, Eamonn Farrell

Given the marriage equality debate and these other controversies which have emerged, Ireland, north and south, seems poised for some lively national dialogues about LGBT people and religion. One news story noted that at least 20,000 students in Ireland have registered to vote to participate in the marriage equality referendum in the spring.  Irish celebrities such as actor Colin Farrell have also become involved in the discussion, making public statements in support of marriage equality.

It would be wonderful if the bishops would relax their defensive posture somewhat and listen to the stories of LGBT people, even their own gay priests. They would learn so much about life, love, and faith.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related article:

The Independent: “Bishop supports inheritance rights for gay couples”

Catholics Seek Legal Rights, Pastoral Welcome for All Families

Advancing LGBT rights in the U.S. is increasingly a struggle about supporting families, both in the church and under the law. Below are several stories in which Catholics are standing up for just civil laws and inclusive pastoral care.

Adoption Rights

New legislation, known as the Inclusion Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would allow religiously-based agencies receiving government funds to refuse same-gender couples access to foster care and adoption services. This act has received the support of at least three Catholic bishops, but Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA criticized it in an essay on  The Huffington Post. She also happens to be the adoptive parent, with her wife ,of two girls.  She wrote:

“In almost every case, [same-sex couples] have given their kids an abundance of love and stability. The intentionality with which they chose to parent is carried forward into their raising of their daughters and sons. They have done all the things that other parents do, often while facing stigma and a lack of legal stability for their families…

“The so-called Inclusion Act does nothing to protect children. To the contrary, it could continue depriving children of potentially loving, stable homes. And it does nothing to protect religious liberty. If there are agencies that truly believe they have a religious mandate to place children only with married, opposite-sex parents, and that there are parents wanting to place children for adoption clamoring for such agencies, then let them manage that service with private funding.”

Parents Speak Out

Parents, adoptive and biological, have long spoken out for their LGBT children, and in the Catholic Church, they have some of the most active advocates for inclusion. Patrick Nugent, the parent of a gay son and an adoptive parent, recently wrote to Catholic Charities of the USA (CCUSA) about President Obama’s executive order barring LGBT non-discrimination by federal contractors.

Concerned that CCUSA CEO Larry Snyder had joined a letter of religious leaders asking the president to expand religious exemptions, Nugent asked Norbertine Brother Steve Herro, manager of mission and ministry at CCUSA, about how Catholic Charities would treat LGBT employees. Nugent writes:

“Why did [Snyder] not ask for exemption from the Civil Rights Act as well, there is no difference…Snyder’s effort to essentially codify continuing discrimination against LGBT people casts a pall on all the activities of CCUSA.  Do you refuse service to LGBT people?  Do you refuse service to African-American people?  Do you refuse service to handicapped people?  I trust the answer to all those questions is ‘No’.  So then why refuse them employment?”

Nugent and his wife, both Catholics for more than 70 years, adopted two children through Catholic Charities of Washington, DC. He adds that this would no longer be possible because foster care and adoption services have been shuttered by the Archdiocese of Washington for fear same-gender couples might adopt the children. This father and LGBT advocte concludes:

“In the future I will read of the accomplishments of CCUSA and its affiliates with two reserve questions:  what did they not do because of Larry Snyder’s gender based discrimination, and what faithful, practicing Catholics were not permitted to participate due to Snyder’s gender-based hiring practices…I will pray that CCUSA will one day embrace traditional Catholic Social Teaching and truly respect the dignity of all people.”

You can read Patrick Nugent’s full letter, and find more information about Catholic parents efforts on behalf of their LGBT children at the Fortunate Families blog. You can also read the inspiring words of Erma Durkin, a longtime LGBT advocate and mother, who was recently interviewed by the National Catholic Reporter.

In a hopeful sign, Larry Snyder said that Catholic Charities was “pleased” with President Obama’s executive order and would continue working with the federal government.


Finally, a new policy in the Diocese of Madison centralizing approval for baptism is again drawing fire and raising questions of whether the sacrament will be dispensed in a spirit of love or according to the letter of the law. A 20,000-plus petition sponsored by Faithful America was delivered to the chancery at the end of July asking Bishop Robert Morlino to affirm that such children can indeed be baptized, according to WKOW.

Critics say the policy is an attempt to prevent same-gender couples from having their children welcomed into the church. Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry explained that Morlino has a “strong record against supporting lesbian and gay people” and could easily be more restrictive in allowing baptisms than a pastorally-inclined parish priest might be.

While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in 2006 that children of same-gender couples should be welcomed to baptism if there is sufficient hope they will be brought up in the Catholic faith, the matter remains a lingering question as more couples legally marry and gain adoption rights.

Pope Francis

Though not directly addressing the civil and canonical matters in question in the U.S., Pope Francis offered fruitful words about family in his message to the First Latin American Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Family in Panama. The pope said, in part:

” ‘What is the family? Beyond its more pressing problems and its most urgent needs, the family is a “centre of love,” where reigns the law of respect and communion, able to withstand the attacks of manipulation and dominance of the  worldly “centres of power “. In the home, the person is integrated in a natural and harmonious way in a human group, overcoming the false opposition between the individual and society. Within the family, no one is discarded: both the elder and child are welcome. The culture of encounter and dialogue, openness to solidarity and transcendence have it in its cradle.’ “

Terence Weldon of Queering the Church posted the text, noting that nothing in it excludes families led by same-gender parents. He comments:

“Take a closer look at the portion of Francis’ message quoted above, at the important sentence, ‘Within the family, no one is discarded: both the elder and child are welcome’. Indeed, within authentic Catholic families, all are fully included, the old and the young, the strong and the weak, the straight and the gay.

“The Church sometimes likes to present itself as an example of the human family on a grand scale, with itself as mother. By extension of the above, the Church needs to remember and practice the Pope’s message–within the family of the Church, just as in the domestic family–no-one should be discarded.”

Only months away from October’s Synod on marriage and family life, LGBT people and their parents are offering bright examples of what it means to form homes where all are welcome and where no one is discarded. Now it is time for Catholic officials to learn from these courageous lay voices.

You can view Bondings 2.0‘s continuing coverage of the Synod by clicking here or the ‘Synod 2014‘ category to the right.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Abusive Parents in UK “Frightened” That Gay Couple Will Raise Children

Catholic birth parents in the United Kingdom lost a court battle over plans by a gay couple to adopt two of their children, in the latest Catholic adoption controversy.

More than a year ago, the two boys in question, now ages two and four, were removed from the Slovakian birth parents’ custody due to neglect. According to Pink News, the father admitted to beating them and the young children were not adequately supervised or cared for.

Two organizations, Christian Concern and Children Belong to Parents, supported the birth parents’ challenge to the planned adoption, arguing that removing them from Catholicism and placing them with same-gender parents would cause psychological damage.

They lost their case in the UK’s High Court last week. Lucie Boddington, head of Children Belong to Parents, told The Tablet the birth parents “feel horrible” and are “frightened” that a gay couple would adopt the boys. The birth parents now plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Responding to these claims, Sir James Munby, senior judge of the Family Court, said the adoption case was adjudicated according to standards “of reasonable men and women in contemporary English society.”

In a related note, news broke recently that St. Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society, a Catholic adoption agency in Scotland, successfully appealed a ruling which had deemed it discriminatory to withhold adoptions from same-gender couples. The Scottish Charity Appeals Panel restored the Society’s charitable standing, even as the Society’s chairman is on the record as describing gay couples’ parenting as a “terrible social experiment.”

Legalizing marriage equality in the United Kingdom and elsewhere has meant anti-LGBT activists have taken a different route, and unfortunately adoption equality is a new chosen target. In Scotland, Malta, France, and elsewhere, adoptions by same-gender couples have been flash points. In several locales in the US, Catholic Charities has stopped all adoption services rather than place children with married gay couples.

As was noted on this blog several years ago, and as many experts have indicated, it is essential when discussing adoption and LGBT people that the well-being of children be the foremost concern, and not any discriminatory agenda by the anti-gay activists. Perhaps the Catholic parents in this story’s first court case could be comforted by the fact that the judge has placed their children in what is known to be a loving and supportive home.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry