Dustin Kight

Catholic Charities: Let's Not Forget

Filed By Dustin Kight | July 02, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, boston, Catholic charities, gay adoption, lgbt parents, Mitt Romney

Many cases of carpal tunnel will be diagnosed before the blogging about Obama's faith-based programs announcement is over and done with. Let me contribute my two (wrist-destructive) cents:

As someone who has seen the best and the worst that organized religion has to offer, my reaction to the announcement was cautious but open to begin with. Those who have commented on the difficulties of putting nondiscrimination into practice are right on the money, as are those who remind us that many faith-based groups do great and necessary work, especially as anti-government forces have greatly diminished purely civic and secular programs over the last 30+ years. (See Alex's recent post for such diverse commentary.)

But one thing in the commentary thus far that needs to be addressed, for history's sake at least, is the example of Catholic Charities, lest we forget their adoption decision in 2006.

Bloggers, commentors, mainstream media and Obama himself have cited the venerable Catholic Charities as a prime example of a faith-based organization that does incredible amounts of good work for people nationwide. To a large extent, that's true. From homelessness to anti-poverty programs and more, Catholic Charities has provided services in volumes unmatched by most other organizations, faith-based and secular combined.

But in 2006 Catholic Charities in Boston opted to end its 100+ years old adoption program rather than work with LGBT prospective parents. Not working with these prospective parents would have violated Massachusetts' statewide nondiscrimination policy.

Despite the fact that the civilian board of Catholic Charities originally voted unanimously to continue processing adoptions for LGBT people (of which the organization had only done a handful in more than 10 years), church authorities pressed the issue, creating a controversy where for the local leaders who ran Catholic Charities there had not been one before.

The group's ultimate decision to end its adoption program prompted then Gov. Mitt Romney to call for a bill that would allow faith-based groups exemption from the state's nondiscrimination policy so that they could continue their "good work" without having to wrestle with their morals.

Life, as most people would agree, requires us to wrestle with our morals on a regular basis. Catholic Charities was particularly known for its success in placing special needs children. Yet somehow the moral compass of the church pointed toward no adoptions over at least theoretically leaving services open to LGBT prospective parents?

At the end of the day, Catholic Charities contracted with the state, and the state was right in standing its ground on exemptions to the nondiscrimination policy. But Catholic Charities must have -- or at least should have -- asked itself a very important question of faith-based service work:

Is the roll of the faith-based group to provide services for all who need them and in accordance with their needs because the group's morals, its faith, encourages that kind of humanity? Or is the roll of faith-based groups to provide services that encourage a particular outcome or world view, that are preferentially offered to certain kinds of people in certain situations only?

In other words, at the end of the day, are services offered by faith-based groups oriented towards the person with the need or the provider?

The truth of the matter is that we know that children do best when placed in the right home for them -- and that means looking at all the possible, qualified homes that children can be placed in. As Jennifer Chrisler has said, if groups like Catholic Charities were primarily concerned with the well-being of children, they would do everything in their power to find the right home, the right match, for each child - regardless of whether that home involved an LGBT parent.

As for Obama's position on faith-based groups, I'm not staying home on Election Day because of it, but he has a lot of difficult work ahead to make this effort satisfy all parties concerned. For starters, he could stop referring to Catholic Charities as if it has a clean slate when it comes to the controversy around faith influencing service provision, because clearly in the case of adoptions, it does not.


Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 2, 2008 9:38 AM

Dustin, your points are well made. Catholic Charities should get out of the adoption business nationwide, of course the kids might needlessly suffer, but it is fairer that way to LGBTQ's.

My lunatic exaggeration aside, the institution is on the verge of total collapse and is looking inward trying to redefine itself backward. I have talked with priests who think that it is just fine to have countries in South America with one priest per ten thousand people and the United States is headed in the same direction.

In the wake of their own Priest scandals, Vatican Bank scandals, hypocrisy and inability to change doctrine I think that we know the direction they are going is downward. There are no perfect institutions.

Obama is pandering to the religious who are not right wingnuts and get ready, there will be more to come.

I think that this is a great example of how the discrimination safeguards can work if the people watching care. They discriminated, they were threatened with losing the opportunity to do their work if they didn't stop, and they chose to stop.

In other words, at the end of the day, are services offered by faith-based groups oriented towards the person with the need or the provider?

Sadly, most of the time the provider. 90% of the time, I'd say...

Dustin Knight said: "originally voted unanimously"

That is a false assertion, probably based on a false and misleading report that appeared in a Boston newspaper.

* * *

Dustin Knight said: But in 2006 Catholic Charities in Boston opted to end its 100+ years old adoption program rather than work with LGBT prospective parents. Not working with these prospective parents would have violated Massachusetts' statewide nondiscrimination policy.

It opted not to go through the expense of fighting the government in court when the judiciary is clearly biased against the man-woman criterion of marriage.

It was not a matter of working with gay people. It was a question of working on behalf of the children in need.

There are plenty of other agencies which specialize in gay people seeking to adopt. Catholic Charities is entitled to operate according to its priorities.

The government is NOT entitlted to impose anti-Catholic policies on Catholic Charities. The threat to deny a adoption license was augmented by the threat to hinder the rest of the organization's charitable works. That is a form of intimidation which caused some board members to look the other way, or to try to reset the balance, even as a few internal ringleaders pressed gay adoption on the organization. Those few resigned.

The issue here is freedom of conscience to work toward a higher standard than the gay activists would have society work toward in adoption services.

The change that occured in the government was not based on a change in legslation but in a rule within the b'cracy. And that came about directly as a result of the SSM campaign in Massachusetts -- against which the Catholic Church has been a staunch challenger.

Dustin Knight said: Yet somehow the moral compass of the church pointed toward no adoptions over at least theoretically leaving services open to LGBT prospective parents?

Nonsense. The gay activists who pressed their identity politics into adoption services are to blame.

Dustin Knight said: In other words, at the end of the day, are services offered by faith-based groups oriented towards the person with the need or the provider?

The primary need met in adoption is that experienced by the child, not the adults looking for a child. The provider of adoption services may set priorities regarding criteria for prospective adoptors -- and agencies vary quite a lot.

There is no adult right to adopt a child. Adoption seeks to make-up for a shortfall experienced by a child in need. Adoption ought not be the political football that the gay activists made of it.

The LGBT activists got this very wrong and put their own political agenda ahead of the needs of children in the state of Massachusetts. They'd rather discriminate against people who believe that a child's interests are more important than identity politics. It was a display of intolerance and anti-Catholic bigotry.

The contribution of the LGBT to adoption is miniscule compared with that of Catholic Charities. There are far more married men and women interested in adopting than there are children in the foster care system. That's where the government should be looking first and foremost. Remove the obstacles and give a high priority to placing children where they will have homes in which fatherhood is integrated with motherhood.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Some folks need to brush-up on what it means to be free in a pluralistic society.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2008 6:05 AM

Chairm, you are charmless and very sick if you think I would leave a child alone with a Catholic priest.

You belong to a subset of society that seems to think that the church and its webs of influence are infallable. You call it a political agenda? We call it a right. A right we may choose to exercise or not, but STILL A RIGHT.

The next time you have nothing to do at 4:30 in the morning rather than polluting our website perhaps you can torture a few heretics or something. The l6th Century is over and this ex Catholic will not be shamed. Our standards are higher than yours, you need to work to keep up with us.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 7, 2008 6:13 AM

Oh, and the reason that the Catholic archdiocese of Boston did not contest in court was the payouts it had to make for priest abuse. That, and the bishop needed a new set of sterling silver. You know, that pattern that elegantly coordinates with the fringe on his cassock. Very important to be coordinated at table when you have all the monsignors over for a late night supper.

Robert, the name is Chairm, not charm, which you would have noticed had your read with greater care. There are other things you failed to notice but your rush to pound the keyboard and to spit at the monitor got the better of you, it would seem.

What you said about leaving a child alone with a priest is nothing more than a spiteful effort at anti-Catholic bigotry on your part.

You know next to nothing of my thoughts on the Catholic Church, its influence, nor even the notion of infallability (if you even understand the concept and its application). Yet you tried another anti-Catholic poke.

That's the sort of pollution that makes the SSM campaign look very foolish and dangerous to the rest of society. Your fellow SSMers ought to quiet you down.

Here, you might catch your breath and calmly try to respond with substance.

That you imagine there is an adultcentric right to adopt is enough evidence to hang your own remarks about Catholic Charities. Flaunting your lowered standards might make you feel better about using aodption as a sort of gaycentric affirmative action program, but that does not raise your lowered standards one iota and it does not help even one child.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 9, 2008 10:18 AM

You delusional fool, I addressed you as Chairm and referred to you as charmless. Your argument is negated by the fact that many children are raised by same sex parents extremely well.. I am intimately familiar with the Roman Church from childhood and was a church lector, retreatant in a Trappist monestary and was very familiar with the Chicago Branch of Catholic Charities located on LaSalle Avenue in some of the most expensive real estate in the city. For whom does the institution work? ITSELF.

As someone who has donated in the past to Mercy Boys Home in Chicago I do believe that I know what I am speaking of when I say that the institution of the church is re inventing itself backward. You can take your self righteous delusions and pollute yourself with them.

Robert, the original blogpost is about Catholic Charities and the adoption issue in Massachusetts.

Whether or not *you feel* I am charming is irrelevant. Your namecalling, also irrelevant.

Your asserted self-belief in *your own opinion*, may be relevant to your inner world, and fwiw I believe that you believe that you are certain of yourself, but that's beside the topic.

* * *

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur .... ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 11, 2008 9:13 AM

Charmy!

I have known bitter women like you from my earliest days. That, my dear, is not a slur it is a statement. Way back in comment number one I stated the obvious. The church is disintegrating and the present pope may be the rotweiller of God, but he lacks any ability to ask forgiveness for the church's many sins, wrongs, and innocent blood shed.

Guess what? I am very connected with the outer world and dine with priests and monsignors myself. Gay priests and monsignors who bemoan how the church itself is on it's own internal witch hunt to discredit it's Gay clergy rather than accept that a child molester is not a gay person.

Your people cannot even get this much right. Your arguments are as valuable as sawdust and your reasoning that I am an anti Catholic bigot is incorrect. I have sympathy for Catholics, I wish the Church did too. I have disdain for the institution of the Church as she has alienated her own. Now, rest up, don't inhale too much incense and begin to think.