Same-Sex Adoption and Boston’s Catholic Charities

The Pilot, weekly newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, recently published a Q&A interview with Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. Haas was asked “to explain the Church’s position on Catholic agencies providing foster children to same-sex couples.” It’s a telling piece, demonstrating both the questionable theology on which the Church’s position about same-sex issues is based, as well as the blatant arrogance of inidividuals like Haas and those who share his perspective.

The entire interview is worth reading, but three questions deserve particular attention.

First — and to The Pilot’s credit! — the interviewer asks whether or not there are any studies supporting the Vatican’s statement that, “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such [same-sex] unions would actually mean doing violence to these children.” The mere fact that this question is asked is a good sign. All too often Rome makes pronouncements about things about non-faith matters without the slightest evidence to support those contentions. While the Vatican is good at citing itself and Church documents in official pronouncements, it rarely (if ever) cites journal articles from peer-reviewed literature from the relevant fields of study (e.g. sociology, psychology, medicine, social work, etc.) when statements about those fields are being made.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Haas’ response is almost dismissive of the question itself. He states that it would not be possible to do adequate study because “it” hasn’t gone on long enough. If by “it” he is referring to the adoption of same-sex couples in which it was acknowledged by all parties involved that the child would be parented by two parents of the same gender, he may be right. The real and more significant “it,” however, is about children parented by gays and lesbians. And if that’s the question, there is plenty of evidence that children parented by gays and lesbians fare just as well as those parented by non-gay parents. According to the American Psycological Association: “…there is no evidence to suggest that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of gay men or lesbians is compromised in any respect relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.”

In light of the fact that at least eight members of Catholic Charities Board of Trustees resigned in protest over this decision, the interviewer also asked whether or not a well-formed Christian conscience could disagree with the Church on this matter. Dr. Haas’ reply: “No.” He then goes on to say that “these people are confused” and that they fail to understand what conscience is. Apparently Dr. Haas thinks it’s aasier to say “you’re wrong” than to engage in substantive dialogue with those who disagree with you.

Finally, when asked to give his take on a Boston Globe March 3 editorial which suggested the bishops ask themselves, “What is so wrong with casting the net wide for parents who will gladly take up the burden and joy of caring for a child?,” Dr. Haas responded: “The net is widely cast to embrace those who we believe will provide an environment which conforms to God’s plan for the happiness and welfare of these children.”

There you have it. Gay and lesbian peoople, who always have been and always will be among the many adults who parent and care for children, are now thought to be outside the net of God’s plan and unable to care for children.

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