by Francis Tuson
People’s wellbeing is more important than ideology. It must be. Especially the wellbeing of those in our society who are least able to care for themselves. Very few people are more in need of care than orphans and children put up for adoption. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), considers children orphans if they’ve lost one parent, both parents, or have parents that are too incapacitated or abusive to take care of them. According to UNICEF, in June 2015, there were an estimated 132 million orphans around the world. This does not take into account child laborers, child soldiers, and children living on the street. In the ‘first world bastion of freedom’; that is the United States of America alone, there are almost four hundred thousand children in the foster care system, with over a hundred thousand of these eligible for adoption. (2013 AFCARS report)
In a joint letter published on the 10th of April 2017, three Bishops in the US publically supported a Bill that (specifically stated in a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) fact sheet on the Bill) will allow adoption agencies to opt out of adoptions for same sex couples. This Bill is called the ‘Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act’ In the guise of fighting for religious freedom, it is not only increasing opportunities for discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) community, but, more importantly, is decreasing children’s chances of being placed in a loving home.
The Bill doesn’t directly discriminate but allows for legally unimpeded discrimination by religious fanatics, from any religion, against people of differing religious denominations and the LGBTQIA community. It would “prohibit the Federal Government and any State that receives certain Federal funding, from discriminating against child welfare service providers (e.g., adoption and foster care providers) on the basis that the provider declines to provide, facilitate, or refer for a child welfare social service that conflicts, or under circumstances that conflict, with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
Psalm 68:5 states: “Father of orphans, defender of widows, such is God in his holy dwelling.” How can these Bishops (all heads of USCCB committees) justify supporting such a Bill? It places the questionably justifiable, ideological views of the Church, ahead of children’s needs, and, therefore, ahead of the Church’s own fundamental principles. The first priority must be for the wellbeing of the children. The argument that ‘the spiritual wellbeing of the children is also important’ would be valid if that were the focus of this Bill. This is not the case. The idea that ‘allowing children to suffer, physically and emotionally, because having same sex parents would be detrimental to their immortal soul, is somehow the better of two evils’, is profoundly disturbing.
Although this is happening in the US it is pertinent to all Christians-we have a duty to be respectfully aware of the humanity and fallibility of our clergy, especially when they attempt to implement ideological concepts. Conservative tendencies are important in today’s often overly indulgent and populist society, but they must be weighed in the light and love of the Gospel.