“Get your story right Rowan”

John Richardson has raised an interesting point this afternoon. If the leadership of the Church of England is right in backing the Roman Catholic Church in defending the right of it’s adoption agencies to not help people engaged in same-sex behaviour to adopt children, then why does the Church of England Children’s Society allow that very thing?

So what are Messrs Williams and Sentamu really doing? Are they supporting the Roman Catholic Church’s stand, as many seem to assume? Or are they in fact making a subtle distinction between matters of conscience and a point of principle? In other words, are they really saying to Tony Blair, “You shouldn’t force people to go against religious conscience, whatever that may dictate and despite the fact that we ourselves take a different view”? (Our three cheers are rapidly dropping to two, or maybe even just one.)

That would, indeed, appear to be the case, except that in their own letter they write that, “It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest.”

Vulnerable to what, though? Clearly neither Abp Williams nor Abp Sentamu believe children are ‘vulnerable’ to adoption by gay persons, otherwise they would put their own house in order. The point at issue here is surely not the children but the adults, who would be required by Government legislation to act against conscience. The Roman Catholic Church is not proposing to remove children under its care to a place of ‘safety’, but to close its agencies, leaving the children to the doubtless otherwise competent care of other agencies.

We are left, then, with a situation in which the Archbishops of Canterbury and York seem to be either confused or confusing. Either they have forgotten what has happened in their own backyard, or they are striking a very different pose in reality from that which might be assumed. Worse than that, however, if it is realized where the Church of England itself stands on this issue, they may very easily seem to be simply hypocritical.

Y’know, I think John has a point. If the Church of England is to have any credibility in this then it needs to put it’s adoption practice where it’s doctrinal mouth is. Let’s do it guys – let’s actually start standing up for and acting out what we believe. Only when we offer society something different, distinctive and attractive in its holiness will we really be salt and light in Britain.

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