Last remaining RC adoption agency battles for survival

The last remaining Roman Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales is fighting for its life in a legal battle against Labour’s homosexual equality laws.

Of the eleven Roman Catholic agencies operating in 2007, all but this last remaining one have either closed down or ditched their religious ethos because of sexual orientation regulations.

Leeds-based Catholic Care, which has been praised for its success in finding homes for vulnerable children, will be in the High Court tomorrow battling against closure.

The agency has a policy of not placing children with unmarried couples, in keeping with its religious ethos.

But under Labour’s homosexual equality laws the agency could be forced to close for not considering gay couples.

Last week the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland slammed Labour for attempting to woo religious voters. He said Labour had “ignored” faith concerns about the plight of adoption agencies.

The Roman Catholic bishops of Hallam, Leeds and Middlesbrough, have written to all their churches telling worshippers about the upcoming court case.

The bishops wrote: “There are too many children awaiting adoption and Catholic Care has a vital and a special role in helping very vulnerable children by finding loving families for them.”

They commented: “Since 2007 Catholic Care has been involved in a legal battle to stay open as a Catholic adoption agency and to operate according to our beliefs in marriage and family life.

“Precisely because we wish to do everything possible to remain open the next stage in this legal process will take place in the High Court this week.

“Our position is that it is in the interests of children to continue our work.

“We are not judging other agencies that accept same-sex couples for adoption, but feel strongly that we should not be forced to do so, nor is there a necessity for this to happen.”

The adoption agency is fighting against laws which prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation when providing goods or services.

The laws are controversial because faith groups feel they disregard religious liberty on issues of sexual conduct.

In this week’s High Court case Catholic Care is appealing against a ruling by the Charity Tribunal in June which said the organisation must accept gay couples as potential carers.

Last week Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy told a Labour think-tank that the party should “reflect and respect” the values of faith voters.

But Cardinal Keith O’Brien said the country has witnessed a “systematic and unrelenting attack on family values” under this Government.

Among other attacks he highlighted the problems faced by adoption agencies.

He said: “When introducing legislation to permit civil partnerships and same-sex adoption, the objections of the Church and other faiths were ignored.”