BOSTONBoston Catholic Charities’ decision to drop adoption services has evoked a nationwide backlash from those who disagree with the Church over placing children in homosexual households.

And biased press coverage, especially in Boston, has dumbed down the issue.

Noticeably missing has been a clear explanation that the reason the Church teaches it is immoral to place children in same-sex households is to protect the children.

“It’s not a question of being ‘anti-gay’ or ‘homophobic’ but a question of understanding that the welfare of the child requires that he or she not be thrown into an environment which is inevitably going to make the child a helpless pawn in somebody else’s experiment in alternative lifestyles,” said Father Richard Neuhaus, editor of the journal First Things.

“Put very simply, children need mothers and fathers,” he said in an interview. “Two women or two men cannot be, simply by an act of the will, turned into a mother and a father. They are simply two women or two men, and fathers or mothers by ideological definition. Children cannot live by ideological definition.”

Disinformation and anti-Catholic rhetoric exploded in the press March 10 when Boston Catholic Charities reluctantly decided to end adoption services rather than comply with a state regulation that would force it to place children with homosexual couples, a contradiction of Church teaching.

Gov. W. Mitt Romney filed a “Protecting Religious Freedom” bill March 15 to exempt Catholic Charities from the regulation, but legislative leaders predicted it will fail.

Fueling the political debate was the news March 10 that former San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that San Francisco Catholic Charities CYO must also bring its adoption practices into compliance with the Church. Five children in San Francisco had been placed with homosexual couples since 2000, agency officials reported (there have been at least 13 in Boston since 1987).

The now-Cardinal Levada said that a 2003 statement issued by Pope John Paul II explicitly addressed the issue.

This prompted the comment from the Boston Herald’s editors, “It seems foolishness is contagious.” The cardinal and the four Massachusetts bishops were labeled in press reports as “extremists … out of touch with reality … hateful … and bigoted.”

But John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said in an interview for the March 10 edition of The Pilot, Boston’s archdiocesan newspaper, “The bishops must insist upon policy that conforms to the teachings of Christ and the mind of God. If they didn’t, they would have no integrity.

“Nobody ever brings up the fact that we, as Catholics, know that God has a plan for marriage and family,” he said.

Unthinkable in Past

Haas explained that Catholic moral tradition doesn’t say much about adoption by same-sex couples because this was “unthinkable” in the past. “Even relatively recently, the state wouldn’t have permitted this sort of thing to happen because they would consider it to be not in the best interest of the child,” he said.

The controversy is so new that “it’s virtually impossible to have any studies that would have any merit,” Haas said. “Frankly, I could probably produce as many studies to show the harm done to children in these kinds of settings as [others] could conjure up to show the benefits to them. So this issue is not going to be resolved by a psychological or sociological study.”

To Jesuit Father Paul McNellis, a Boston College philosophy professor who has helped the archdiocese educate people on the marriage issue, the adoption issue is simple but profoundly important.

“Historically speaking, until the day before yesterday one didn’t need extraordinary grace to understand that marriage is between a man and a woman and that the best environment for children is to be with a father and a mother, even if biologically not their own,” he said in an interview.

“But the irrationality of our own age is shown by the fact that common sense no longer includes these basic insights into human nature,” Father McNellis said. “In our day, it might require extraordinary grace to recover the basic understanding that was the foundation of Western civilization for thousands of years.”

Real Life

“Charles,” who was adopted as an infant by two homosexual men, does not need studies to prove that his childhood was painful. Now married with a family, he discussed his past on a March 14 “Straight Talk Radio” broadcast of Stephen Bennett Ministries, an advocacy group to help people struggling with homosexuality.

In a phone interview, Bennett called same-sex adoption “a tragic social experiment” and said his group has counseled others like Charles, whom he declined to identify for privacy reasons.

During the broadcast, Charles said that he and his two adopted brothers were sexually molested by friends of his “dad” and his “uncle.” It became hard for him to trust men.

“Homosexuality destroyed a normal way of life for us.” he said. “It’s not just the two people involved; it’s the environment.”

The boys turned to self-destructive behavior. One brother became a male prostitute and died of AIDS. Charles became promiscuous to prove he was heterosexual. As a child, he did not understand why he had no mother. “I never identified with women. My whole perception of them was from TV,” he said.

Charles’s experience was not uncommon, according to statements reported by Catholic News Service at a seminar on homosexuality at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome Feb. 23.

Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a French psychoanalyst and consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family, said homosexual couples are unable to give children the model of sexual differences they need to develop their own sexual identity.

Within several generations, he said, children raised in these settings “will experience an alteration of the sense of reality.”


Gail Besse is based in