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Monday, 29 January 2007

Compassion and sensitivity

A commenter "Just a confused Catholic" asked about Archbishop Vincent Nichols' admission on Newsnight that Catholic agencies were happy to place children with single gay people, but not couples. He suggested that this undermined any argument about gay adoption and lost credibility for the church's position

As I understand it, some agencies say that from their experience, some older children who have had long experience of dysfunctional families do better in long-term care of a single person. (I am not qualified to comment on whether this is the case or not.)

In such a situation, it might be that a Catholic agency would place a child or teenager with someone whom they knew (through confidential assessment procedures, perhaps) to have some homosexual temptations but who accepted the teaching of the Church and lived chastely.

However, I cannot see how it would be possible for a Catholic agency to place a child with someone who defined themseves publicly as "gay", was regularly part of the gay "scene", was involved in sexually active gay relationships, or opposed the teaching of the Church.

One of the ambiguities in the recent public debate is that everyone is ignoring the statement in the Catechism that the homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered." (n.2358) This means that it cannot be accepted by Catholics as a "good" or as just another way of being normal.

Without recognising this teaching, we are going to be trapped in a dialogue of the deaf because a person who regards being "gay" as "the way God made me" or as just another acceptable way of life will not be in the least bit placated by the Catechism's talk of "compassion and sensitivity" or of uniting their difficulties with the Lord's cross. Such talk will simply make them angry because they will see no need for anybody to be compassionate.

It seems to me that the way things are in England now, the "compassion and sensitivity" talk may not be as helpful as it is intended to be. Given the success of the gay movement in obtaining widespread acceptance in England, we are really in the position where we disagree about something fundamental to human nature. We might as well recognise that and debate it: there is no sense causing needless offence.
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