Sunday, April 27, 2008

More British Catholic Adoption Agencies to Close Doors instead of Bowing to Sexual Orientation Regulations

When the Labour government's Sexual Orientation Regulations were passed last year, the leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales warned that the new law would spell the end of Catholic involvement in social service, particularly adoption. Now the first of the UK's Catholic adoption agencies affected are announcing they will close their doors for good rather than betray religious principles and their guiding principle of the good of the child.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon said his diocese of Nottingham would be cutting ties with the their adoption agency, the Catholic Children's Society, because of the law that forces them to consider homosexual partners as equally qualified to adopt as people in natural heterosexual relationships. "We have been coerced into this, I am not happy about it at all," the bishop told Catholic News Service April 18. "The regulations have coerced the children's society into going against the church's teaching, and we don't wish to do that."

The Nottingham agency, together with that of the Northampton Catholic diocese, will become a secular institution "with a Christian character" by merging with the adoption agency of the Anglican Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham in October. The parish churches of the diocese will no longer solicit funds to support the agency. The Nottingham agency was founded in 1948 by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and placed 25 children a year with adoptive families.

Contrary to common accusations that Catholics are trying to unjustly discriminate against homosexuals, the Catholic Church holds that its motivation is rather the desire to protect the best interests of children. The Church teaches, according to recent documents from the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, that allowing a child to be adopted by homosexual partners "would actually mean doing violence to these children" by placing them into a situation where their full social and spiritual development would be threatened.

Homosexual partners have had the legal right to adopt children in Britain since 2002. The new law, however, removes the right of Catholic and other Christian agencies to decline to consider homosexuals for adoption.

The move by the Nottingham diocese follows similar decisions made elsewhere in Britain. In the summer of 2007, shortly after the legislation was passed, the Leeds-based Catholic Care, which placed 20 children a year with adoptive families, voted to pull out of adoption services. Bishop Patrick O'Donohue of Lancaster announced at the same time that the Catholic Caring Services, an adoption agency working in Lancashire and Cumbria, will likely close rather than bow to the regulations.

When the legislation passed in 2007, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, attempted to find a compromise in which Catholic adoption agencies would be exempt. Tony Blair, later to be received into the Catholic Church by the same Cardinal, refused to consider an exemption. Instead Blair offered his own version of a compromise: Catholic agencies had a year to adjust to adopting children to gay partners or close. That deadline comes at the end of this month.

The conflict comes at the same time that local branches of government continue to discriminate against Christians who volunteer to take in foster children. In November 2007, Vincent and Pauline Matherick, a Christian couple who had fostered children for years, were told by their Somerset council that they would no longer be allowed to continue because of their religious objections to homosexuality. They were later reinstated but only after a media furor and notices to the council by a Christian lawyers' group.

In February this year, it was reported that a Christian couple in Derby, Eunice and Owen Johns, is suing the local council after their application to foster children was refused because of their religious objections to homosexuality. In addition, the Labour-controlled council adoption panel was said to be "upset" that the couple insisted that children in their care would be required to accompany the family to church on Sundays.

In September 2007, an independent investigation revealed that a local council's fear of being labelled homophobic had allowed a total of 19 boys to be placed with a pair of homosexual child molesters. Despite growing reservations by staff and complaints from the mother of two of the boys, the Wakefield council placed the children into the care of Ian Wathey and Craig Faunch who were convicted in May 2006 of molesting and filming eight-year-old twins and two 14 year-old boys.


Greenies lose one

Plans for Britain's biggest land-based wind farm were turned down by the Scottish government yesterday, in a landmark decision with wide implications for the future development of renewable energy in the UK. The 181-turbine development on the Hebridean island of Lewis was vetoed by Scottish ministers because it was at odds with tough protection for wildlife sites afforded by European law. The site was designated as the Lewis Peatlands special protection area under the EU's birds directive to protect its rare breeding birds including the golden eagle, merlin, red-throated diver, black-throated diver, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank. As the wind farm would have "significant adverse impacts" on the wildlife site and its birds, it was in effect legally impossible to approve, said Jim Mather, the Scottish Energy Minister.

The decision sends a clear signal to developers seeking to take part in the "wind rush" expected as part of the massive expansion of renewable energy signalled by the EU earlier this year. It means their proposals will have to be in the right place, and they are likely to be refused if they conflict with the two EU wildlife laws - the birds directive and the habitats directive - which offer the strongest protection for wildlife sites in Britain.

But Mr Mather emphasised that the verdict on Lewis was not meant to block renewable energy expansion in the Hebrides and the rest of Scotland. "This decision does not mean there cannot be onshore wind farms in the Western Isles," he said. "I strongly believe the vast renewables potential needs to be exploited to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of new development can be shared across the country in an equitable fashion. That's why we will urgently carry out work on how to develop renewable energy in the Western Isles, in harmony with its outstanding natural heritage."

He added: "Nor does today's decision alter in any way this government's unwavering commitment to harness Scotland's vast array of potentially cheap, renewable energy sources. Even allowing for [planning] refusals, we are well on the way to meeting our ambitious target to generate 50 per cent of Scotland's electricity from renewables by 2020."

The o500m scheme rejected yesterday, put forward by Lewis Wind Power, a joint venture between the energy giants Amec and British Energy Renewables, was extremely controversial on the island. In outline the biggest land-based wind farm in Europe, it had been slimmed down from a proposal for 234 turbines.

Although in February last year the Council of the Western Isles voted by 18 to 8 for the project - leaving the Scottish government to take the final decision - many people in Lewis felt that even the slimmed-down development would damage the island, despite the community benefits and jobs it would have brought. The Scottish government received 98 support letters - and 10,924 objections.

It would have involved 88 miles of road, eight electrical substations, 19 miles of overhead cables, 137 pylons, 18.3 miles of underground cables, and five rock quarries. Two Labour politicians who supported it, the island's MP, Calum MacDonald, and MSP, Alasdair Morrison, lost their seats, and were ousted by Angus MacNeil and Alasdair Allan respectively, who are both Scottish Nationalists and opponents of the wind farm.


Surge of illegals into Scotland

Police have caught more than 1,000 people later identified as illegal immigrants at ports in south west Scotland over the past four years. Numbers of foreign nationals detained at Stranraer and Cairnryan have more than doubled between 2004 and 2007. Crimes including people trafficking for the sex trade have also been detected.

A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said the figures should deter people from trying to use the ports without the proper documents. Police say the ports are the fourth busiest points of entry to Scotland after airports in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. About 1.9m passengers and 900,000 vehicles pass through the facilities each year. People from 67 different countries have been stopped by police and subsequently identified as illegal immigrants. There were 117 such cases in 2004 but that rose to 259 last year. The total number detected over the four-year period is 1,007.

Among the nationalities without proper documents were people from Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq, Romania, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Det Ch Insp Steven Carr, who works at the ports unit, said it was always looking out for any immigration offences. "Our primary function is protection of UK security," he said. "But during the course of our work we come across other offences." These include drugs and motoring crime as well as immigration issues. "The staff here are multi-skilled because there is a multitude of offences," said DCI Carr.

The police effort is backed up by three officers seconded to the UK Border Agency (UKBA). "They have the power of immigration officers up to the point of sending somebody back to their own country," he explained. Police believe that thanks to that facility and a good working relationship with ferry operators in Dumfries and Galloway they have been able to foil organised crime. "We have reported a number of people to the fiscal for the facilitating of people into the UK," said DCI Carr. "It is a well-documented process that organised crime groups make a lot of money out of charging people extortionate amounts to come into the UK. "Organised crime groups are very proficient at it - in many ways it is safer than drugs or other forms of contraband."

The force has also been part of a number of national operations. "We were also involved in Operation Pentameter on the trafficking of people for use in the sex trade," said DCI Carr. At least a couple of young women who police believe were destined for prostitution were discovered by the Stranraer ports unit. Dumfries and Galloway Police believe it demonstrates that the region's ferry terminals are not a "soft touch" for illegal immigration. "The smallest force in the UK still gets to deal with the biggest issues," said DCI Carr. "If you come through the ports of Stranraer and Cairnryan you are taking a risk - we monitor the ports 24 hours a day. "You will be found out, detected and reported or handed over to the UKBA."


British Leftist government Takes From the Poor: "This was another bad week for Gordon Brown. Not even a year in office, the Prime Minister has already been in the soup for mishandling a banking crisis and for chickening out on early elections and an EU Constitution referendum. Now the Tories are taunting the Labour leader - who had made fighting poverty his No. 1 issue - as a tax oppressor of the poor. The charge has stuck and stung. Mr. Brown was forced Wednesday by backbenchers in his own party to mollify more than five million low-wage earners and pensioners who have seen their income taxes double to 20% this month. Even worse for a Labour leader, the tax hikes, which he passed last year when he was still Chancellor of the Exchequer but which came into force only this month, coincided with tax cuts for the middle class."

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