Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Conclusion on the adoption brouhaha in the UK

From this mornings "Thought for the Day" by Jonathan Bartley comes the announcement already made by Prime Minister Blair that there will be no opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies from the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

On January 30th the ABC reiterated his position on the matter which is rather more nuanced than is reflected in the press:-

In response to a question on the UK Government announcement on the implementation of Sexual Orientation Regulations:

“I’ll wait to see I think what the period of negotiation that lies ahead will bring, to see whether the concerns of the Catholic Church has raised are going to be addressed. But what we’d most want to do is to disentangle two things. There’s a particular issue on which the Catholic church has taken a stand, as other Christians have; and there’s a general issue about the rights of the state and the rights of conscience especially in voluntary bodies. Now that second question is one that, I think, is by no means restricted to this issue. And I think it’s not going to go away, so I would like to see some more serious debate now about that particular question – what are the limits, if there are limits, to the State’s power to control and determine the actions of voluntary bodies within it, in pursuit of what are quite proper goals of non-discrimination. So I hope there’ll be a debate about that.”

In a January 23rd letter written with Bishop Sentamu the principle had been expressed thus:-

"The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning."

A valid point which would have had much more weight if it had been the case in the past that religious bodies like the C of E had stood up for underpriviledged minorities criminalized in earlier times by the state.

"Thought for the Day" concludes with this useful reflection:-

The choice for churches doesn't have to be between a compromise of conscience on the one hand, and complete withdrawal from public life on the other. This is however a decision which increasingly appears to mean choosing either to love unconditionally - or not love at all. And at a time when the medium is the message, this is a golden opportunity for the churches to show that Christians can once again be known by their love.

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