British court rules in favor of Catholic adoption agency's practices


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LONDON (CNS) -- A Catholic adoption agency prevailed in a legal battle to continue its policy of assessing only married couples and single people as potential adopters and foster parents. The ruling in the High Court in London means that the adoption agency, Catholic Care, is exempt from dealing with same-sex and cohabiting couples who present themselves as prospective parents.

The charity, which covers the northern English dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam, is the only one of 11 English and Welsh Catholic adoption agencies to fight the country's 2007 sexual orientation regulations through the courts.

Unable to comply both with Catholic teaching that gay adoption is "gravely immoral" and the regulations compelling them to assess gay couples who may apply to care for children, the other agencies have either closed their adoption services or established them as secular charities with no church control.

Leeds-based Catholic Care, however, challenged a ruling by the Charity Commission, the body which regulates the activities of charities in England and Wales.

The commission ruled that Catholic Care could not use one of the regulations -- Regulation 18 -- to continue to offer its services.

Overall, the regulations ban discrimination against gays in the provision of goods and services, but Regulation 18 allows a charity to practice limited discrimination in the course of its work.

Justice Michael Briggs published his ruling in favor of the agency March 17, two weeks after hearing arguments.

Briggs said the Charity Commission misinterpreted Regulation 18 and criticized its thinking as "neither logical, rational, purposive nor responsive to any reasonable linguistic interpretation."