The loving gay family and the archbishop next door

That’s the headline in this morning’s Guardian on a story by Stephen Bates, which begins:

If anyone knows what it is like to be a gay adopter of a child, it’s the Rev Martin Reynolds. He’s gay, in a long-term partnership … and an ordained clergyman of the Anglican church in Wales. And for the last 15 years, he has been fostering a boy with severe behavioural difficulties.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, knows all about him too: he used to live next door when he was Archbishop of Wales. The boy played with his children. He knows that gay couples can provide a loving home for disadvantaged and at-risk children. Yet on Tuesday he wrote to the government demanding that religious adoption agencies should not have their consciences challenged by being required to consider gay couples as adopters.

Read it all.

And don’t miss Andrew Brown’s scathing essay on the gay adoption mess on the Guardian’s blog, Comment is free. He writes:

“After all the years of child abuse scandals in the church, to see the Archbishop of Birmingham making his great stand for principle on the issue of gay adoption is to be reminded of Ronald Reagan redeeming the reputation of the American army after its defeat in Vietnam by invading Grenada. Are we to suppose that the Roman Catholic conscience, something even more flexible than Rowan Williams’ backbone, could not work its way around these regulations if it wanted to?

None the less, I think the Catholic position in this is more honourable than that of the Church of England. Dr Sentamu’s performance on the Today show yesterday morning was a breathtaking display of intellectual dishonesty. The most notable lie, I suppose, was his assertion that: “We are not wanting rights to discriminate.” This is true only to the extent that the Church of England’s own Children’s Society does not in fact discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, and will already now place children for adoption with gay couples. So Dr Sentamu is only struggling for the right of the Roman Catholic church to discriminate on his behalf. ”

The article ends:

But in what sense can Dr Williams succeed? He is a man now for whom his allies despair, and whom his enemies may very well despise. He knows well, and has for years supported a gay couple – one of them a priest – who are raising a very difficult foster child. No one who knows him in person doubts his commitment to the wretched and outcast; no one who knows him through the media would ever suspect it. If you read his letter carefully, it might well be understood as a rebuke to the Roman Catholic church as much as to the government, and as an appeal for calm. But no one will read it like that. It is a piece of political theatre, in which he plays a part written by his enemies. In a fortnight’s time, he will travel to Dar es Salaam, for a meeting of the heads of Anglican churches, many of whom would regard his friends as filthy, demonic perverts. Yet he has made it the central principle of his time in office not to upset such men. It is impossible not to pity him but difficult not to be shocked at his cowardice. “He has no friends,” a gay friend of his said to me this week, “but we love him.”

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