Saturday, March 25, 2006
127,000 Still WaitingZenit interviews a priest of the Fall River diocese. It's a good concise history of the issue, not terribly biased. In responding to the question, "Are the laity rising up to defend the Church?" Father Landry raises a challenge of his own: There's also another important way in which the laity needs to rise up. The leaders of Catholic Charities in Boston have defended the decision to place children in same-sex homes because most of the children involved were very difficult to place. In other words, the children had languished in foster care or group home situations for a long time because heterosexual couples had not stepped forward to adopt these generally older children with greater physical, emotional or psychological needs. It's not so much that Catholic Charities was working on an agenda to place kids with same-sex couples; it's that the alternative was for them to remain in foster care or group homes, and Catholic Charities officials, at the time, thought that was worse. I hope that one of the positive effects of this situation will be that Catholic married couples will generously start to step forward in greater numbers to give a loving home to children in these circumstances who have already suffered so much. A few things: My contention remains that foster care and group homes are indeed worse. Landry concedes the preference is given to placement with stable, two-parent homes. I can tell you that preference is given to experienced biological parents. (That was our greatest hurdle in adopting a child.) Demonstrating stability in a relationship is absolutely essential. Adoptions and foster care placements can trigger separations and divorce. Social workers want to be assured that a relationship will stand up to stress. Any SSA couple that adopts a child is going to have to demonstrate stability probably in excess of a married couple with the same number of years together. I'm glad of Landry's challenge to Catholic laity to "defend" bishops by stepping up to the plate and adopting some of these 127,000 kids. I'm still waiting for someone from the Church to bail from the whining about proportionalism. We concede that point theologically and practically on any number of issues: baptizing children of inactive Catholics, going to war, practicing executions, dilly-dallying on support for torture. If the Church wants to refrain from placing children with gays, cohabiting couples, and single parents, that is within the bounds of good sense. But having that Massachusetts opportunity to apply for an exemption in 1993 and not bothering to do so strikes me as more of an administrative blunder than a moral one. As it is, one possible good outcome from this is that Catholics who feel strongly about defending the bishops in this arena will start whittling down those tens-of-thousands of needy children and moving them from the adoptable rolls to the home. This is a prime instance in which the act of charity will speak more about the nature of the Church than the ideological posturing bereft of love.