Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Father Roger Landry on the Conflict in Massachusetts

NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts, MARCH 25, 2006 (Zenit) - Local Catholic Charities leaders have said they made a legal accommodation for a greater social good when they facilitated 13 adoptions of children in foster care to same-sex couples.

They contended that if they did not comply with Massachusetts' non-discrimination policy, they would no longer be able to fulfill a state contract that has allowed them to place hundreds of other foster care children in stable homes.

For insight into the situation, we turned to Father Roger Landry, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish and executive editor of the Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River.

He shared with us the history and issues that led to the gay adoptions, and how the Massachusetts bishops and concerned laity can defend the Church.

Q: How did the Church ever find itself in this dilemma?

Father Landry: There's both a civil and an ecclesiastical history.

In 1993, the commonwealth of Massachusetts passed anti-discrimination legislation that included protections for same-sex individuals. The impact on adoptions was somewhat muted because of the preference in general for married couples in adoptive placements.

When, however, the state's Supreme Judicial Court by a 4-3 judicial fiat created same-sex pseudo-matrimony, and endowed it with all the same rights as traditional marriage, it brought greater attention to adoption by same-sex couples.

When the Boston Globe in 2004 looked into how Catholic Charities in Boston was dealing with the issue, they discovered that Catholic Charities had already facilitated 13 adoptions of children in foster care to same-sex couples. That came as a shock to almost everyone.

Practicing Catholics, especially those who were working so hard to defend the institution of marriage, felt a deep sense of betrayal.

The leaders of Catholic Charities have said they made a legal accommodation in the name of a greater social good. If they did not comply with the state's non-discrimination policy, they stated, they would no longer be able to fulfill a state contract that has allowed them to place hundreds of needy kids from foster care in stable homes.

So even though they may have requested an exemption from the state law back
in 1993, they never applied.

Q: What are the options for the Church in this case? It is possible for the Church to work with the state and still be loyal to the Gospel?

Father Landry: The bishops of the commonwealth, along with their political and lobbying arm, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, have announced that they will seek an exemption from the non-discrimination policy from any of the three branches of government that will provide it.

Governor Mitt Romney has been sympathetic to the bishops and has filed a bill to grant an exemption, but stated that he has no authority to issue an executive order in the Church's favor. Many of the state's top legislative leaders have announced their reluctance or outright opposition to granting such an exemption.

The Church may have to sue, but many wonder whether the activist judiciary that gave us same sex pseudo-matrimony will treat the case according to the law rather than their own personal ideas.

Since the 1993 non-discrimination policy was announced, the Diocese of Worcester has been referring same-sex couples seeking adoption to non-Catholic agencies, minimizing their cooperation with this unjust law.

While a spokesperson for the state Department of Social Services claims that this practice is in violation of state rules, there really has been no crackdown.

State adoption officials, I think, realize that the Catholic Church's participation in adoption services is crucial for the welfare of children and, as long as same-sex couples still have access to adopting children through other agencies, authorities seem to look the other way. No one paid much attention to the practical compromise until the Globe article.

I think some accommodation like the Worcester practice will be possible once state authorities recognize that the Catholic bishops are firm in principle and ready to persevere. Most politicians would prefer that the issue go away and many seem to be hoping that if they do nothing to help the Church, the bishops will cave and adopt the policy practiced by Boston Catholic Charities.

I think some accommodation like the Worcester practice will be possible once state authorities recognize that the Catholic bishops are firm in principle and ready to persevere. When Boston Catholic Charities, influenced by Cardinal-designate Sean O'Malley, announced on March 10 that they will not renew a contract with the state to facilitate adoptions, the dynamics of the issue changed. Rather than trying to get the Church to yield on facilitating adoptions to same-sex couples, several state leaders began more responsibly and respectfully to seek a way to keep the Church in adoption work.

If the bishops convince them by perseverance that that is not an option and that they will not compromise the principle, I think many politicians would agree to a compromise that allows Catholic adoption agencies to remain in adoption placements while allowing non-Catholic agencies to handle adoptions to same-sex couples.

Q: What are the deeper problems behind this crisis?

Father Landry: Looking at the Boston Catholic Charities situation prior to the about-face on March 10, I think we see, first, the evil effects of proportionalism in moral theology that Pope John Paul II condemned in his encyclical "Veritatis Splendor."

Proportionalists believe that there really are no moral absolutes and that the good and evil of an action should be determined by weighing the proportion of good effects to bad in an action.

Many of the lay board members of Catholic Charities admitted that they do not believe that placing a child in a same-sex home is wrong in all circumstances, despite the fact that a 2003 document by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith unambiguously states that it is.

Moreover, they argued that the negative effects of cooperating with the state in such placements were outweighed by the benefits of the ability to continue doing adoption work and remaining eligible to receive millions in state money and philanthropic grants for which they would no longer be qualified if they discriminated against same-sex couples.

The same proportionalist rationale was on display, I think, when Catholic Charities honored the mayor of Boston in December despite the fact that he is a Catholic who supports abortion and gay marriage. In the mind of Catholic Charities board members, those indefensible positions were proportionally outweighed by his support for programs for the poor and needy.

I'd add that the actions of the Catholic Charities board is another illustration of a general problem seen in other many other Catholic institutions in the United States, like hospitals and universities.

When Catholic lay people began to dominate their respective boards of trustees, insufficient attention was given to whether the new members shared the Church's faith in all matters. In many circumstances, especially with respect to the teaching of the Church on abortion and human sexuality, many board members simply do not share the Church's faith.

They lack the sufficient "formation of the heart" that Pope Benedict refers to in his first encyclical, and that impairment can lead to the types of conflicts and problems we have seen in this case.

Q: Are the laity rising up to defend the Church?

Father Landry: The laity have not yet arisen in great numbers with the bishops to defend the Church's position. I think part of the reason is that the bishops have not yet called them to do so.

Even those who would be accustomed spontaneously to defend the Church, however, are somewhat reluctant to do so in this case, because they remain embarrassed by the fact that for over a decade Catholic Charities in Boston was violating a principle upon which the leaders of the Church are now insisting.

For lay people to defend the Church, in other words, they first have to accuse a Church institution of a practical hypocrisy -- and that's an uncomfortable line to walk. The more that the bishops and priests categorically distance themselves from the past adoption policies of Catholic Charities in Boston, the easier I think it will be for lay people to stand up along with them.

The March 10 line in the sand drawn by Catholic Charities in Boston was a step in the right direction, to remove the scandal and begin to energize the faithful.

There's also another important way in which the laity needs to rise up. The leaders of Catholic Charities in Boston have defended the decision to place children in same-sex homes because most of the children involved were very difficult to place.

In other words, the children had languished in foster care or group home situations for a long time because heterosexual couples had not stepped forward to adopt these generally older children with greater physical, emotional or psychological needs.

It's not so much that Catholic Charities was working on an agenda to place kids with same-sex couples; it's that the alternative was for them to remain in foster care or group homes, and Catholic Charities officials, at the time, thought that was worse.

I hope that one of the positive effects of this situation will be that Catholic married couples will generously start to step forward in greater numbers to give a loving home to children in these circumstances who have already suffered so much.

Q: The Church does a lot of charitable work that helps society and the state. What does the state stand to lose if the Church isn't free to pursue its own mission?

Father Landry: The state stands to lose much more than many realize.

To a large extent, the Church's tremendous contributions to the common good -- in education, in health care, in social services, in the formation of good and upright citizens -- have been taken for granted.

One of the effects of the clergy sexual abuse scandals has been that so much attention has been given to the Church's perceived defects and failures in the Boston area that the Church's real triumphs of love and service have for the most part been ignored.

If redress is not given to allow the Church freedom to love in accordance with the full truth of the human person, not only will the state suffer quantitatively from the Church's absence, but qualitatively.

As Pope Benedict wrote in "Deus Caritas Est," the Church's charitable agencies, by their witness to love, give a "Christian quality" to civil agencies, too, and make them more effective not just in addressing social problems but in tending to the persons with those problems.

With regard to the adoption situation, however, state adoption officials are well aware of the Church's contributions and the disaster that would be precipitated if the Church were forced to withdraw from her work in this area. The more their voice is heard, the easier it will be, I think, to find a way to ensure that the Church remains free to continue to serve the common good in this way.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Adoption, Life, Marriage, Charities, Catholic, Family

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

Wednesday'a Audience - Gregory of Nyssa on Perfection
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • 'She is the witness to the risen Christ': Mary Magdalene honored
  • Daily Reading for Monday, July 25th, 2016 HD Video
  • Christ apparition in Mexico
  • St. James the Greater: Saint of the Day for Monday, July 25, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 HD Video
  • 'Contemplative communities are not immune': Pope Francis on prayer
  • Daily Readings for Monday, July 25, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Corinthians 4:7-15
7 But we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, so that the immensity ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
1 [Song of Ascents] When Yahweh brought back Zion's captives we lived in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:20-28
20 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her sons to make a request ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 25th, 2016 Image

St. James the Greater
July 25: Nothing is known of St. James the Greater's early ... Read More