Thursday, 19 June 2014

Church cannot stand aside in debates about the family says Archbishop Martin

The Church cannot stand aside in debates about the family, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told a conference on the family organised by the Catholic hierarchy ahead of October’s Synod on the family in Rome.

Referring to the ongoing debates on the family, he said: “The Church cannot stand aside from these important debates about the defence of the family as a fundamental institution within society. At times, as with all ideological debates, the debates become acrimonious and very often it is the Church which is then portrayed as being the cause of such acrimony and of inflaming public debate.

We need to keep that debate going, but we must do so in a way in which we build a wide, broad consensus about the family.”

He said that since the end of World War II a philosophy of individual rights and freedom had arisen which had in some ways helped the family because the family often made the father the dominant figure and put women and children in second place.

He added: “There was however an individualism which looked on the family as having predominantly negative effects on the rights of individuals. The family, it was said, was oppressive; the family had to be redesigned and redefined.”

Referring to his own time negotiating at UN conferences on the family, he said: “I remember well the ideological battles at international conferences in which I, as the lead negotiator for the Holy See, became involved with some of the more liberal States of the European Union. They were difficult and at times fraught negotiations. At times the polemics were strong and the Vatican was categorized as being worse than fundamentalists, defending unreal ideological positions.”

He challenged the Church to “foster that new culture of mutuality in marriage in a world where individualism reigns. When we talk of marriage and the family as being at the heart of the parish, we must look more clearly at what the Church can do for families and for the concept of stable and fulfilling marriage.”

The conference took place in Clonliffe College on Saturday.

Archbishop Martin's talk in full can be found here.

Court overrules couple who don’t want their children adopted by same-sex couple

But Sir James Munby ruled that the children’s “welfare needs” outweighed the “impact that adoption would have on their Roma identity.”

According to the website of family lawyer Marilyn Stowe, the case concerned two boys, ‘J’, aged four, and ‘S’, who will turn two in July. Their ‘Roma’ parents come from the Slovak Republic. They were brought to West Yorkshire by traffickers and initially lived in “cramped” bed and breakfast accommodation.

Social services became involved and eventually their five youngest children were made the subject of care proceedings. The local authority applied for care orders for the four youngest, plus an order which would place for the oldest, aged 15, under its supervision for 12 months. In addition, they sought ‘placement orders’ for the two youngest, J and S, putting them in the care of prospective adopters.

When it became apparent that the children would be placed with a same-sex couple, the parents sought to block the adoption, accusing Kent County Council of a "conscious deliberate effort ... to transform our children from Slovak Roma children to English middle-class children" and argued that if the adoption went ahead it would cause their children psychological harm in the future. After an unsuccessful appeal to the European Court of Human rights, the case came before Sir James Munby at the High Court.

“Our family is a Slovak Roma family and we are practising Catholics and a homosexual couple as potential adopters... will not promote the children’s Roma heritage or their Catholic faith … Whilst we have no doubt that the prospective adopters have been properly assessed by the Local Authority, they are a homosexual couple and as such their lifestyle goes against our Roma culture and lifestyle.”

Christian Concern CEO Andrea Williams commented: "We do not know all the details as to why adoption was deemed necessary, but leaving that aside, this case raises profound concerns. Why is it not possible to accommodate the beliefs of the natural parents and act in the best interests of the children? Why are these beliefs about marriage, which the government claims are protected, being trampled on?

"It is causing great present distress to the parents and, as they have outlined, is likely to cause great distress to the children in the future. Why not seek adoptive parents who share the beliefs of these parents?"

Britain's most senior family court judge has ruled against a Slovakian Catholic couple seeking to block the adoption of two of their children by a same-sex couple.

In a witness statement, the couple said that being placed with a same-sex couple would not be in the children's best interests, as they would not be able to fully “promote the children's Roma heritage or their Catholic faith”.