Sunday, November 11, 2012

Are sinners allowed to adopt?

  1. The Catholic Church has long decried homosexual acts as sinful, and neither acknowledges nor condones homosexual marriages. 
  2. They also oppose legal marriage rights for gay couples and seem particularly vehement in their opposition to adoption. 

I just feel the need to point out that 2 by no means follows from 1.

Making claims about what is and is not sinful is standard issue; the Church has been at that for a long time, and wont be stopping any time soon.  Furthermore, it seems clear to me that it is within the rights of the Church to refuse the sacrament of marriage, or any sacrament for that matter, to anyone for failing to meet certain theologically determined criteria.  I don't find the Church's position on the sinfulness of homosexuality terribly compelling, but I'm willing to let the ongoing deliberation and prayer of the Church to sort out which of us is in the right.

However, 2 has no bearing on any of those things.  Legal rights are inherently secular, and to the extent that they are above and beyond the protections espoused by the church, seem to me to be beyond reproach.  This is especially true given the Church's theological commitment to freedom of religion: there are faiths that permit or even laud gay marriage.  If the church is committed to true religious freedom, it is imperative that other faiths be permitted to operate with the same legal capacities and protections as the Catholic Church.

All of that, however, is sideshow stuff compared to the Church's scandalous position on adoption by gays.  The Church has no massive public campaign objecting to adoption by remarried couples; to my knowledge it has no animosity at all to such adoptions.  But, from a Catholic theology perspective, such people are also publicly engaged in mortal sin.  For reasons that escape me, the Church has decided that it is more important to punish and restrict a particular class of sinners than it is to provide loving homes to orphans. I find myself disgusted by my Mother Church's insistence that it prefers keeping children in foster care and orphanages to permitting them to be loved, raised, and cared for by a sinning couple.  If any fellow Catholics have a thoughtful dissent to this sentiment, I'd love to hear it.

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