STILL reeling from a double blow received this week at the hands of legislators on both sides of the Atlantic, the Catholic Church has hit back, claiming “hostility towards religion”.
The first blow came when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an “anti-Catholic” resolution by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, condemning the Vatican’s interference in the city’s affairs.
The resolution – adopted on March 21, 2006 – was a response by the Board to orders issued by the Vatican instructing Catholic charities to break the law and treat prospective adoptive parents on a discriminatory basis according to whether or not the couples were heterosexual or homosexual.
The resolution formally called on Cardinal William Levada:
In his capacity as head of the Congregation for the doctrine of Faith at the Vatican, to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.
Cardinal Levada was described in the resolution as being:
A decidedly unqualified representative … of the people of San Francisco and the values they hold dear.
The resolution called the directive:
An insult to all San Franciscans when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great City’s existing and established customs and traditions such as the right of same-sex couples to adopt and care for children in need.
The resolution viewed a claim from the Vatican that, “allowing children to be adopted by persons living in [homosexual] unions would actually mean doing violence to these children” as defamatory in nature and “absolutely unacceptable to the citizenry of San Francisco.”
The Board said such defamatory language was:
Insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors.
And the board defended the right of same-sex parents to care for their children as equal to that of heterosexual couples.
According to this report, the failed legal challenge to the resolution was mounted by the Thomas More Law Centre, a national Christian legal advocacy group based on behalf of the Catholic League and two Catholic residents of San Francisco.
Said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Centre:
The policy of San Francisco is one of totalitarian intolerance of Christians of all denominations who oppose homosexual conduct. My concern is that if this ruling is allowed to stand, it will further embolden anti-Christian attacks.
The lawsuit claimed that the City’s anti-Catholic resolution violated the First Amendment, which:
Forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion, religious beliefs, or of religion in general.
Robert Muise, the Law Centre attorney who argued the case, stated:
Our constitution plainly forbids hostility toward any religion, including the Catholic faith. In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco have abused their authority as government officials and misused the instruments of the government to attack the Catholic Church. Their egregious abuse of power now has the backing of a federal circuit court. This decision must be reversed â€¦
The Law Centre argued that:
The Anti-Catholic resolution sends a clear message to plaintiffs and others who are faithful adherents to the Catholic faith that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message that those who oppose Catholic religious beliefs, particularly with regard to homosexual unions and adoptions by homosexual partners, are insiders, favored members of the political community.
In the UK, meanwhile, the Charity Tribunal has ruled that Catholic adoption societies which refuse to offer children to homosexual couples face closure.
According to Catholic Action, judges ruled in a test case that the charities, which find homes for hundreds of children each year, will be breaking the law if they refuse to accept same-sex couples as adoptive parents.
An appeal lodged by the Catholic Care charity, run by the diocese of Leeds, said that the right to discriminate against homosexual couples was “a principle of a Catholic organisation”.
Following the ruling a spokesman for the diocese said:
As the charities cannot provide unrestricted services without being in breach of their obligations to act in accordance with the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, it seems likely that the charities will need to close their adoption services and a flagship service of the charities will be lost. We are concerned about the possible impact this will have on potential adoptive parents and children.
Tribunal president Alison McKenna ruled that the Catholic Care charity was ” a well-respected voluntary adoption agency which has made a significant contribution to the provision of adoption services in this country and facilitated many successful adoption placements”, but she and two colleagues said the charity’s activities would be unlawful if it went on refusing to accept gay adoptive parents.