By Kathleen Gilbert

LEEDS, England, March 2, 2010 ( – With the backing of three bishops, the last Catholic adoption agency in the UK to resist equality laws forcing acceptance of homosexual adoption will appeal this week to the High Court to secure its right to exemption.

Catholic Care, of the diocese of Leeds, is the last of 11 Catholic adoption agencies to fight the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) of 2007.  The Charity Tribunal rejected the agency's appeal last year to maintain the teaching of the Church, which forbids adoption of children to same-sex couples, saying such a rule violated homosexuals' right to equal protection.

Britain has allowed homosexual couples to adopt children since 2002, but the SORs directed pressure against religious agencies to allow homosexual adoption despite their stated religious principles.

The charity is receiving support from the Catholic bishops of Hallam, Leeds, and Middlesbrough, who issued a joint letter to be read publicly in hundreds of parishes last weekend that defended Catholic Care's bid for religious freedom.

“Despite the fact that Catholic Care has been able to find caring families for a vast number of needy children, we are being invited either to stop our adoption work or stop being a Catholic charity altogether,” wrote Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, Bishop John Rawsthorne of Hallam and Bishop Terry Drainey of Middlesbrough.

“Our position is that it is in the interests of children to continue our work. We are not judging other agencies that accept same sex couples for adoption, but feel strongly that we should not be forced to do so, nor is there a necessity for this to happen,” said the bishops.

“We believe that this is a legally justifiable position to take and that it is a reasonable response to a legitimate end.”

“If Catholic Care is forced to close its adoption service,” the prelates warned, “it is children who will lose an effective and well respected resource in the Yorkshire region.”

In remarks interpreted as aimed against the pro-homosexuality Equality Bill Last month, Pope Benedict XVI urged English and Welsh bishops to oppose legislation that ultimately “violates the natural law.”

“The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal [of equal opportunity] has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs,” said the pontiff. “In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

See related coverage:

Pope Drops Strong Hint to English Bishops: Get with the Program

After 120 Years of Service UK Catholic Adoption Agency Forced to Close Doors Over Forced Gay Adoptions


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