Slowly, step by step, the Vatican is beginning to face the realities of modern life – and of modern families. Having begun, the process will continue.
The Sunday after Christmas is traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family – an occasion which all too often is used in homilies as an excuse to commend the modern nuclear family – thereby leaving the substantial proportion of Catholics who are single, divorced, married but childless, gay, lesbian, trans or otherwise queer distinctly excluded. How are LGBT people of faith to respond to this, how can we truly participate in a great feast which so leaves us excluded?
I have reflected on this twice before. The first time, in “Christ’s Queer Family”, I noted that the Biblical Holy Family was not, as it is usually presented, an example of the “traditional” family beloved of the Christian right, but in fact has much more in common with queer families.
As we approach Father’s Day, a British adoption charity is encouraging gay men to apply as adoptive dads – so that next year, some of the 6000 kids waiting for adoptive parents, will have a dad to celebrate. Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said:
In the UK there are 6,000 children waiting to be adopted and we know that gay men can make loving fathers.
If more people came forward we would be able to help give loving homes to thousands of children.
We need to make sure that everyone knows that they can adopt – so by next year many more will celebrate their first Father’s Day
via – ITV News.
The Catholic Church and others opposed to adoption by gay men and lesbians, make claims such as that a child needs (or has a right to) a mother and a father, and that we must always put the best interests of the child before the selfish desires of those wanting children. These claims (they hardly qualify as rational arguments) completely miss the point.
Even if it were true that children do better when raised by two opposite sex parents (a claim which is contradicted by research comparing like with like family composition), the issue for many children awaiting adoption is not whether they should have opposite – sex or same – sex parents, but whether they can have the chance of any parents at all, or none. The simple fact that we have 6000 kids waiting to be placed is tragic evidence both that they their own, biological parents (of difference sexes) have been unable to give them suitable care, and also that where adoptive parents are available, the children who are most easily placed, are usually young, healthy babies. Older children, those with severe health problems, or behavioural difficulties (possibly resulting from earlier neglect by unsuitable opposite – sex couples) are left at the back of the queue. To exclude all same – sex couples from parenting, some of whom have demonstrated extraordinary willingness to take on the most troubled children, and make a real difference in their lives, is to condemn some kids to no parents at all, putting simple sexual ideology ahead of the true best interests of the child.
- Rockford Catholic Diocese Abandons “Best Interests of the Child” for Religious Ideology
- Growth in Support for Gay Adoption More Rapid than for Gay Marriage
- The Biblical Case for Gay Marriage
- Celebrate the Value of Gay Parents
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Gay Marriage “In the Best Interests of the Children”
- The Conservative, Catholic Case for Gay Adoption
- Ferrandino: A Father’s Day wish: full equality for our family (denverpost.com)
- Gay Dads’ Brain Activity Pattern Resembles Both New Mothers And Fathers … – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
- Hallmark Releases First-Ever Gay Father’s Day Card (queerty.com)
- 63 Percent Of Americans Say Gay Couples Entitled To Adopt (ontopmag.com)
Idaho’s top court grants adoptive rights to spouse in gay marriage
JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has, today, published the General Scheme of the long-anticipated Children and Family Relationships Bill.
The new laws will allow civil partners to jointly adopt a child for the first time.According to the Minister, this measure “removes the current anomaly where single lesbian and gay individuals can adopt children, but civil partners cannot jointly adopt”.
|Man with baby born to surrogate mother. Photo: REUTERS|
Portugal’s parliament on Friday handed same-sex couples the right to adopt the children or foster children of one partner, a partial victory for equality campaigners that fell short of their call for full adoption rights.
Saint Joseph is frequently presented as a model of fatherhood. For LGBT Catholics and other Christians however, he is also a powerful symbol of just how little the Holy Family resembled the model of “traditional” marriage and family to easily touted by those seeking to twist the clear evidence of scripture to force it into their own heteronormative model of family.
Rather, Christ’s family was distinctly queer, as I have written previously for the Feast of the Holy Family:
This week, (that is, the week after Christmas) the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family – so often an occasion of trial for those Catholics who are not living in officially approved families of Mom, Pop, kids, pets and picket fence. Subjected year after year to the same -old, same-old shallow sermons on the joys of family life, single people, the divorced, childless couples and queer Catholics can easily find that this Sunday is a very pointed reminder of how easily and thoughtlessly we can be excluded from the Church community. Most of the standard preaching on the Holy Family though is entirely misguided – the true nature of the Holy Family is very far from a celebration of the modern, but inappropriately named, “traditional family” .
Two items that came to me this week reminded me of this. My colleague Martin Pendergast sent me a link to the Holy Family reflection by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, with the observation
We had a good Pastoral Letter from +Vincent Nichols for The Feast of the Holy Family – no ‘family-values’ ranting, thank God!
Martin is right. Although there are the usual references to children, there is no prescriptive definition of “family”. It is perfectly possibly for those who need it, to read this statement as inclusive of families of all kinds. There is is also an important expansion of the concept of family, one that has important implications for the community of the church, and for those of us who for one reason or another feel on the margins of the church family:
The family of the Church, too, has a deep, human wisdom to share. It is intertwined with the stories of our families. St Paul describes so much of it in that second reading we have heard. Today we think about how to share and build our family wisdom. By doing this we strengthen the very foundations of our society. We need time together. We need to listen to each other’s experience. We then come to appreciate the wisdom that is part of our family tradition, something to be passed on in love.
All the members of a family also need to practice respect for each other. Yes, we respect each other in our differences. We may rejoice in those differences. At the same time we strive to keep up a shared standard of behaviour.
A Catholic adoption agency was told today it cannot turn away gay couples if its wants to keep its charitable status in a landmark court ruling.
Defeated: A Catholic adoption agency has been told it cannot turn away gay couples if its wants to keep its charitable status (file photo)
The case is particularly unique because it sets the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church against European law.
Catholic Care, a voluntary adoption agency based in Leeds, asked the Upper Tribunal to sanction its refusal to recognise same-sex couples as potential adopters and to restrict its services to ‘Nazarene families’ of father, mother and child.
‘Nazarene families’ refers to Jesus of Nazareth, who was fathered by a man, Joseph, and a woman, Mary.
But the Charity Commission fought the case every inch of the way, insisting that the charity’s stance is ‘divisive, capricious and arbitrary’ and ‘demeaning’ to the dignity of homosexual couples whose parenting abilities are ‘beyond question’.
Today the Commission won the debate when the tribunal ruled that Catholic Care had failed to come up with ‘weighty and convincing reasons’ why it should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples on grounds of their sexual orientation.
The long-established adoption agency said during the case that it would be forced to close if it lost the dispute.
Catholic Care argued its work in finding new homes for ‘hard to place’ children is of enormous social value and saves the public purse about £10 million-a-year by removing youngsters from the care system and placing them with adopters.
If banned from only recognising married heterosexual couple as potential adopters, it argued children would be the losers as its funding through Church collections and other voluntary donations would inevitably dry up and it would have to close.
However, Emma Dixon, for the Commission, told tribunal judge, Mr Justice Sales, that Catholic Care’s stance was in clear violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which outlaws discrimination on sexual orientiation and other grounds.
-more at Mail Online.
- Catholic adoption agency loses five year legal battle over its refusal to accept gay couples (dailymail.co.uk)
- Even With Catholic Charities Out of the Picture, Illinois Foster Children Are Doing Just Fine (patheos.com)
The opponents of gay same-sex marriage and of the “gay lifestyle” (whatever that is), like to claim that their opposition is rooted in traditional family values, “as found in the Bible.” This claim is so completely spurious, is is remarkable how seldom it is challenged. Just a little thought and reflection shows not only how the Gospel values have little to d with modern Western conceptions of the “traditional” family, but they are so far removed from it, that the real values espoused can certainly be described as “queer”,if not quite as specifically gay. Continue reading The Gospels’ Queer Values