United Kingdom: Catholic Church confronts government

Source: FSSPX News


In the United Kingdom, the Equality Law, which condemns discrimination against homosexuals in the provision of goods and services will come into force next April 1st.

On January 23, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster and primate of the Catholic Church in England and Wales sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair, and all the members of his government, urging them not to enforce the laws for Catholic Adoption Agencies. For “to oblige our agencies in law to consider adoption applications from homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents would require them to act against the principles of Catholic teaching,” and it would then be an “unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics” which would condemn these agencies to act against their own consciences. Indeed, continued the cardinal, “It would be an unnecessary tragedy if legislation forced the closure of these [Catholic] adoption services.” – These agencies represent one third of the voluntary adoption sector in the country.

Archbishop Mario Conti, Vice-President of the Scottish Bishops Conference also wrote to the Prime Minister giving his full support to Cardinal Murphy O’Connor. The Anglicans Rowan Williams, archbishop or Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, as well as John Sentamu, archbishop of York gave their support to the Catholic Church by making the same request to Tony Blair: “In legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups the government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights to have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk.”

“I support the right of homosexuals to present adoption applications like any other couple. This is the reason why religious adoption agencies providing services for which they receive public funds cannot be exempted from the dispositions preventing discrimination,” answered Tony Blair in a communiqué dated January 29. However, during a transition period of 20 months these agencies may recommend other agencies to homosexual couples.

Archbishop Murphy O’Connor said he was “deeply disappointed” by the Prime Minister’s decision not to grant an exemption to Catholic agencies.