Mass. bishops ban same-sex couples’ adoptions by Catholic agencies

BOSTON — In a Feb. 28 statement, the four bishops of Massachusetts declared that in light of the 2003 Vatican instruction on same-sex marriage, “Catholic agencies may not provide adoptions to same-sex couples” and announced they are requesting the Commonwealth to exempt Catholic social service agencies from a law requiring them to place adoptive children in same-sex households

Protesting the move, seven of the 42 members of the board of Catholic Charities, including past chair Peter Meade, resigned.

In a statement, the seven board members said they were “deeply troubled” by the course set by the four bishops, and said it “undermines our moral priority of helping vulnerable children find loving homes.

“We also cannot participate in an effort to pursue legal permission to discriminate against Massachusetts citizens who want to play a part in building strong families. The course the bishops have charted threatens the very essence of our Christian mission. For the sake of the poor we serve, we pray they will reconsider,” the statement read.

The letter was signed by Geri Denterlein, president of Denterlein Worldwide Public Affairs; Donna Gittens, CEO, causemedia; Paul LaCamera, General Manager, the WBUR group; Brian Leary, partner, Gadsby Hannah; Peter Meade, executive vice president, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Colette Phillips, president and CEO, Colette Phillips Communications; Micho Spring, chairman, Weber Shandwick New England.

Jeff Kaneb, the newly appointed chair of the Catholic Charities board of trustees, and Father J. Brian Hehir, president of Catholic Charities, released a statement regretting the resignations.

“It is with regret that we have received today a statement of resignation from seven members of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston board. To lose even one of these individuals would be a severe loss to our Catholic Charities agency.

“These men and women have for many years provided Catholic Charities generously with personal commitment, professional skills and expenditure of time and financial resources. We are extremely grateful for their years of service to the poor and vulnerable in our society. We are saddened that the differences which have developed concerning the issue of an exemption protecting the work of Charities in its adoption policy have led to a departure of valued colleagues from our Board,” they said.

The bishops’ statement carefully frames the issue of adoption in the context of the social mission of the Church and stresses the bishops’ desire to collaborate “as fully as possible with public institutions.” But it also says that “our educational, healthcare and social services must be rooted in the foundation of Catholic moral and social teaching even as we offer the services of these institutions to all in the Commonwealth.”

The statement says that the principles of religious freedom are being challenged by Massachusetts’ regulations that “could require service agencies to place children with same-sex couples.”

Ed Saunders, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, explained to The Pilot that Church doctrine says that “same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children and that Catholic social service agencies should not place adoptive children with same-sex couples.”

At the same time, he continued, “the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ licensing requirements say you cannot discriminate against anyone on a series of things, one of which is sexual orientation.”

In the statement, the bishops expressed their intent to continue serving children in need of adoption in a way which does not conflict with Catholic teaching and practice. To do so, they intend “to seek relief from the regulatory requirements of the Commonwealth on this issue.”

“We are asking the Commonwealth to respect the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and allow the Catholic Church to continue serving children in need of adoption without violating the tenets of our faith,” the statement says.

Saunders could not elaborate on the way that exemption will be pursued.

“Several avenues are available to the bishops at the present time and they are just beginning the process. It is too early and we are not prepared to talk [about] what those strategies or tactics will be to obtain relief.”

Cardinal-designate Seán P. O’Malley and Father Hehir met with Gov. Mitt Romney March 1 to explain the Church’s request.

After the meeting, the archdiocese released a statement saying “The archbishop is grateful for the governor’s willingness to consider measures which could provide an exemption for the agencies of Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, allowing them to continue the work of providing adoptions for children in need without being in conflict with Catholic teaching.

“The conversation was a preliminary one and the strategies discussed will have to be examined in detail in the days ahead. The Catholic agencies in the dioceses of Massachusetts wish to continue the work of adoption and seek an exemption in order to comply with Catholic teaching on marriage and the family.”

The day before the meeting, Gov. Romney’s spokeswoman Julie Teer said that the governor cannot by executive order waive anti-discrimination laws, but “Gov. Romney respects and honors the free practice of religion and he looks forward to meeting with representatives of the Catholic Church to discuss this issue.”

This bishops’ statement follows the creation back in November of a committee they put together to review whether the adoption practices of Catholic institutions in the Commonwealth were in compliance with Church teaching, after media reports revealed that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston had arranged for the adoption of 13 children by same-sex couples over the last 20 years.

Saunders said that the committee did not vote on a final determination but “they discussed those issues and worked with the attorneys and came up with some background and research that was presented to the bishops and then the bishops issued the statement,” Saunders said.

Some members of the Catholic Charities board had earlier expressed uneasiness with the bishops’ decision to create a commission and their intention to obtain a religious exemption from the state.

The Boston Globe reported back in February that the board of Catholic Charities had unanimously voted to continue with adoptions by same-sex couples. Peter Meade, the outgoing chair of the board, expressed then to the Globe his strong opposition to the bishops’ plan, calling it “an unnecessary, unmitigated disaster for children, Catholic Charities, and the Archdiocese of Boston.”

Kaneb confirmed in a statement issued in response to the bishops’ statement that the board had voted in December expressing “a desire to continue the existing adoption policy of Catholic Charities in Boston.”

“The board today recognizes the need for further discussion with the archbishop about the implications and implementation of the policy adopted by the Bishops of Massachusetts about seeking an exemption from existing state policy and regulation concerning adoption to same-sex couples.”

Ed Saunders affirmed that it is the role of the bishops to assure that all Catholic institutions within a diocese follow the principles of social and moral Catholic teaching.

“Even though the board of an agency may make a recommendation, it is the bishops who are responsible for saying how the moral and social teachings are followed,” he said.

In their statement, the bishops refer to a 2003 document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which described the placement of foster children with same-sex couples as “gravely immoral.”

“Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case,” the document said.

Associated Press materials contributed to this story


Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists&rsquo; claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...