a teachable moment

By Diogenes (articles - email) | Feb 16, 2006

The bishops of Massachusetts plan to petition the state government for exemption from a policy that bars adoption services from discriminating against homosexual couples, according to a headline story in today's Boston Globe. The bishops' petition will presumably cite Church teachings that say homosexual adoption is "gravely immoral," in fact a form of child abuse.

Still, the government officials who receive that have reason to be puzzled, since the Boston office of Catholic Charities has been placing adoptive children with homosexual couples for more than a decade. If it's so obviously an offense against Catholic teaching, why was it done for so long? Why, after the story broke late last year, did Church leaders require a 3-month study to determine that the "gravely immoral" practice should be halted?

Fair questions. But no doubt the bishops will take advantage of this opportunity to explain the teachings of the Church. Right? Wrong.

The Globe story cites two potential defenders of the Catholic viewpoint: a lawyer at the firm handling the bishops' appeal, and the director of the bishops' public-policy lobby:

John Tuerck, spokesman for Ropes & Gray, said the firm had no comment and does not identify its clients.

Edward Saunders Jr. -- executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy office for the bishops in the state -- said he cannot comment on the bishops' views on gay adoptions, other than to say the topic remains part of 'ongoing serious consideration."

Not very convincing, is it? But wait; there is one spokesman for a Catholic institution who's not afraid to speak out. Peter Meade, a Board member of Boston Catholic Charities, told the Globe that the policy "is an unnecessary, unmitigated disaster for children, Catholic Charities, and the Archdiocese of Boston."

Oh, wait. Meade wasn't talking about homosexual adoption. He was talking about the bishops' hope to stop placing children with gay couples.

The officers of Boston Catholic Charities aren't likely to side with the bishops on this one. The Globe notes:

The board voted unanimously in December in support of continuing to allow gay couples to adopt children.

Unanimously. The Church teaches that it's a form of child abuse. The board of Catholic Charities votes unanimously to continue it.

So do the bishops of Massachusetts have some teaching to do? No comment.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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