San Francisco Catholic leader stops short of total ban on gay adoptions
SAN FRANCISCO Without barring adoptions by gay families outright, San Francisco’s new archbishop has made it clear he believes that placing children in same-sex households conflicts with Roman Catholic teachings on homosexuality, a spokesman said.
Archbishop George Niederauer therefore has asked the social services arm of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to bring its adoption program “fully in sync” with the church’s views while continuing to find homes for hard-to-place youngsters, spokes-man Maurice Healy said Monday.
“Our teaching on marriage and family life precludes these kinds of adoptions,” Healy said. “We need to find another way to help this vulnerable population. How, remains to be worked out.”
Niederauer, who was installed on Feb. 15, first offered his thoughts on the subject last week following an announcement by the Boston Arch-diocese that it would stop providing adoption services because Mass-achusetts law requires gays and lesbians to be considered as prospective parents. Similar laws exist in California and seven other states.
“We realize that there are people in our community, some of whom work side by side with us to serve the needy in society, who do not share our beliefs, and we recognize and respect that fact,” Niederauer said in a written statement.
Since 2000, five of the 136 adoptions facilitated by Catholic Charities of San Francisco have been to gay couples, according to Brian Cahill, the agency’s executive director.
Stressing the small numbers involved and the difficulty of finding homes for the handicapped children Catholic Charities serves, Cahill said Monday that he interpreted the new archbishop’s remarks as a guideline, not a ban.
“Catholic teaching is paramount. Equally paramount are the best interests of the vulnerable children that we serve,” he said. “It is not that gay and lesbian couples come banging down our doors. They are not going to come to an agency that is the social service arm of the Catholic Church.”
Following the announcement from Boston last week, former San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, who is now the highest ranking American ever at the Vatican, told The Boston Globe he had been aware of a handful of gay adoptions during his tenure in California and at the time saw them as “prudential judgments.” But he issued a statement saying they should not continue.
Levada heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the post held by former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI. In that role, Levada will help shape Catholic doctrine.
In response to Levada’s statement, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided not to attend his official elevation to cardinal this week in Rome, said Peter Ragone, a spokesman for Newsom.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was scheduled to consider a resolution calling on Levada to withdraw his comments and for local Catholic leaders to “to defy all discriminatory directives of Cardinal Levada.”
Although city supervisors have threatened to withdraw funding from Catholic Charities if the Archdiocese decided not to place children in same-sex households, Healy said such a move would not force the program to close. The agency’s adoption service has an annual budget of about $400,000, he said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 24, 2006.