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Push for same-sex marriage is led by a minority, says bishop

By on Thursday, 25 October 2012

Bishop Kieran Conry © Mazur/

Bishop Kieran Conry © Mazur/

The push for gay marriage rights is being driven by politicians who are following their personal agendas rather than the actual demands or expectations of the gay community, Bishop Kieran Conroy of Arundel and Brighton has said.

“Very often” some social policies, such as requiring church-run adoption agencies to consider same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents or proposals to legalize same-sex marriage, “are politically motivated in terms of vote-catching and representation of politicians as standing up for human rights,” he said.

Such proposals are not necessarily coming from the gay community, he said during a briefing with journalists at the Vatican press office. Bishop Conry is one of hundreds of bishops attending the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

People advocating such policies seem to be “some other small group” that is not personally invested in the issue, but rather is motivated by defending human rights in very general, broadly sweeping way, the English bishop said.

Brighton “is regarded as the gay capital of the United Kingdom”, and the bishop said members of the gay community he has spoken to “respect the right of the churches to have their own rules” on issues.

The Equality Act 2006 prohibited discrimination against homosexuals in the provision of goods and services. It required all adoption agencies, including Church-run groups, to not discriminate against and to assess same-sex couples as potential adopters and foster caregivers.

Almost all of the 13 Catholic adoption agencies in Britain were forced to either sever ties with their dioceses or close down because of the laws.

One Catholic adoption agency, which covers three dioceses in northern England, fought the regulations through the courts. However, in 2010, the Charity Commission for England and Wales refused the agency permission to amend its constitution so it could turn away gay and unmarried couples.

Scotland, which has its own legislature, allowed its Catholic adoption agencies a loophole to carry out their work in accordance with church teaching, Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative Party minister, told US Catholic News Service in 2010.

Bishop Conry said, however, that the agency his diocese helps run went along with the law because it did not want to deny children needed services and “we knew very well that [gay couples requesting to adopt from a Catholic charity] would not be an issue.”

They had seen that when other British dioceses were “virtually forced” to close down their adoption agencies by local authorities rather than be forced to comply with the law, it was the children who paid the price, he said.

“We wanted to make sure that the interests of the children in that case were served first” by keeping the agency open, operated and funded by the church. “We simply withdrew the name ‘Catholic’” from the agency’s title, he said.

As a result, each year “there are 30 children who are taken out of institutions and put into families,” he said.

Also, since the legislation has been enacted, the diocesan adoption agency “has not had a single request from a gay couple to adopt or foster a child.”

When asked what the agency would do if a same-sex couple did request to adopt or provide foster care, he said, that decision “is not in the hands of a few people” and is always based on what’s best for the child.

“We’re not going to have a public fight that we’re going to lose possibly and come out of it with everyone suffering,” he said. “We work on the principle: you only fight battles you can win.”

Currently, the bishops are fighting British government proposals to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has said Government assurances that churches would not be compelled to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies were meaningless because the law could be amended at any time.

Civil partnerships introduced by the government in 2004 already conferred many of the rights of marriage on homosexual couples.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, said in March that the drive to legalise gay marriage represented “an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.”

  • JabbaPapa

    My feeling is that the tide is turning, but it may be too late to prevent the shores of Britain being engulfed in this politicist travesty of “democracy”.

  • AndreaGregorio

    Ah, so we have the latest argument njow that all of the other ones have been tried and failed i.e. gay marriage will result in the collapse of Society, it will lead to polygamy, incest, it will lead to the dangers to the unborn child – etc et ad nauseam.  Speaking to a few gay people on the streets of Brighton is anecdote at its worst.  Speak to the gay organisations that have conducted polls employing large numbers of people and the result is overwhelmingly in favour of total equality and the eradication of all discriminatory policies.  Politicians have long been engaged in a concerted drive to ensure the eradication of inequality in public life and the gay component of this is simply that – one component of many.  Gay Marriage UK is coming and is unstoppable – get over it!

  • Michael Harris

    Here’s the rub of it: -

    “We’re not going to have a public fight that we’re going to lose possibly and come out of it with everyone suffering,” he said. “We work on the principle: You only fight battles you can win.”

    Defeatist talk costs lives, including eternal souls.

    I hope the Holy Father gets to see these words of relativistic pessimism, which fly in the face of the Church’s duty to proclaim the gospel and defend truth and life in season and out of season… Whether the odds are stacked against us or not. 

  • nytor

    “the agency open, operated and funded by the church”

    You’re still funding it? Disgraceful. Just removing the name “Catholic” from its title is lip service to Church law and nothing else.

    As for “We work on the principle: you only fight battles you can win” – not cut out for martyrdom, is he? How many more compromises, Conry, eh?

  • Catherine

    Which Saint was it who said that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops??

  • Benedict Carter

    They lost the battle years ago, Nytor. The rest is just capitulation.

  • whytheworldisending

    Why remove the word “Catholic?” Was it to avoid being targetted by militant homosexuals lookin gfor children? As for only fighting battles you can win, that isn’t what Jesus did when he took on the corrupt authorities and was crucufied for it. It does of course depend on what you mean by win, but being able to carry on on the atheist’s terms is hardly a win for Christianity. Homosexuality is an evil and children need protecting from it. If in order to place children with husbands and wives who wish to become adoptive parents, an agency places even one child victim with homosexuals, they have had a part in evil. Maybe therefore it is bets that the word “Catholic” was omitted after all.

  • whytheworldisending

    If so-called gay marriage – which is a contradiction in terms – did come, then shortly afterwards, will come paedophile marriages, as perverts everywhere are encouraged to pursue their own agendas and legalise their crimes in the same way that homosexuals have. There are already sick individuals campaigning to lower the age of consent. After that who knows? Incest or bestiality? It really isn’t possible to tell until you get there – that’s why Britain won’t be going there.

  • stephen.keay

    “We’re not going to have a public fight that we’re going to lose possibly and come out of it with everyone suffering,” he said. “We work on the principle: you only fight battles you can win.”Not very Catholic.  St John Fisher, Ora pro nobis.

  • Kevin

    In one sense you are right. Buggery is wrong in and of itself, and not merely because of association with another form of sexual immorality. The liberal Catholic error is to see consent as the only measure of morality. This mistake should be obvious in the context of consumer protection, where we have long since abandoned the secular principle of caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”).

    It is possible that the promoters of this legal reform are using rhetoric of equality to mask resentment at Catholic opposition to all sexual immorality, including fornication, as the latter – the cornerstone of the permissive society in Britain – is clearly driven by selfishness and facilitated by deception. The disposable “one-night stand” or relationship of convenience is called “love” to frustrate public disapproval of it. If buggery becomes a civil sacrament, opposition to sexual exploitation will become legal heresy.

  • Basil Loftus

    The response to this article will be dominated by ranting from the same people!

    Why don’t you behave as Christians for two minutes and and allow other voices to express an opinion?

  • Michael Harris

    A) ‘ranting form the same people!’

    This comment I am now writing is my third on this news site, so please explain ‘same people’. Please also explain your use of the highly subjective word ‘ranting’ in relation to my original comment.

    B) ‘…allow other voices to express an opinion’

    What? How on earth is my comment silencing anyone else’s? If I were you, I would look closer to home before pointing out the speck in your brother’s eye. You have freely expressed your opinion… Now let the court of common sense judge which one of us is expressing the mind of the whole Church (by which I mean the one from the middle of the 1st century onwards, not the one from c 1970). 

  • Dlflanagan

    This unfortunate bishop leaves me depressed. Some of his utterances suggest he is close to going native.
    Certain contributors to this column would make better bishops than this fellow. Perhaps we could have bishops Jabbapapa , Carter, Paulpriest or Nytor who appear to have safer pairs of hands?

  • Annie


    “Which Saint was it who said that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops?” 

    St. Athanasius 

  • Pregis

    And this is the Bishop who speaks in the Synod on Evangelisation.Yes we should behave like Christians, and cut this man off and cast him out. He is unworthy of the high office given him.

  • shevmonster

    The bishop’s comments are just bizarre.  Gay rights organizations all across the globe have been fighting and fighting for years and years to advance marriage equality and he thinks this is being driven by people other than gays???  I’ve been part of this movement for decades, and yes, the people who are pushing this are us, the gays, and the reason we are in this fight is because we want to get married. 

    As far as churches marrying gays, I think any church that wants to do it should have the right to do it and any church that does not want to do it should not have to.  I also don’t see why church affiliated adoption agencies can’t opt out of providing services to gays.  I know full well I am not welcome in the Catholic Church, so why would I go to a Catholic adoption agency?  I would rather go someplace I feel welcome. 

    All I want is the right to get married.  If the Church does not want to have anything to do with me because I am gay, that’s fine with me.  I’ll find another way to adopt and I can be married somewhere else. 

  • Benedict Carter

    So the Bishop says he’s not going to engage himself in any fight he can’t win?

    What a bunch of defeatist *******! I don’t have words for these people. 

    The Catholic Way is to struggle and fight even if there IS no prospect of victory – for we are trying to win an ETERNAL victory whose finishing line is only visible at the moment of our deaths.

    God does not ask us to win in this life: but He does DEMAND that we struggle until our last breath.

    Conry’s comments say it all about this set of Bishops (perhaps with one or two exceptions, though I withhold opinion for the moment). 

    Of no use to man nor beast.

  • JabbaPapa

    “We work on the principle: you only fight battles you can win.” Not very Catholic.

    No ?

    Luke {9:1} Then calling together the twelve Apostles, he gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.
    {9:2} And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the infirm.
    {9:3} And he said to them: “You should take nothing for the journey,
    neither staff, nor traveling bag, nor bread, nor money; and you should
    not have two tunics.
    {9:4} And into whatever house you shall enter, lodge there, and do not move away from there.
    {9:5} And whoever will not have received you, upon departing from that
    city, shake off even the dust on your feet, as a testimony against

    The Christ Himself knew that there are people who simply will not listen to the Christian message, and that the way to deal with them is to turn your back upon them and just ignore them.

  • JabbaPapa

    The French instituted the PACS, with the intention of creating a civil union for homosexuals — yet 95% of all civil unions contracted in France are by heterosexuals.

    The numbers of homosexuals wanting to marry are extremely small, throughout the western world — they are dwarfed by the numbers of politicians militating for this extra “right”, and even these numbers are tiny compared to those of the general populations of the various countries.

    I know full well I am not welcome in the Catholic Church

    You should not confuse the Church’s teachings on homosexuality itself, with any notion that homosexuals should not be “welcome” in the Church — notwithstanding that some people inside the Church may be hostile towards homosexuals — but probably in pretty much exactly the same proportions as those who hate gays outside the Church.

    The point of the Church’s position is that marriage is about families, not about individuals and their sex lives or their living arrangements or the nature of their relationships.

    Redefining the Law would redefine ALL marriage according to a homosexualist conception of it.

    Catholics therefore oppose this change to the Law.

    Oh, and don’t kid yourself — whilst you personally probably wouldn’t try such a stunt, there is little doubt that some of the more outrageously violent militants in the gay lobby will in fact attempt to force this or that Catholic Church to “marry” them, if this Law is passed…

  • Chriswriter

    It would be nice if the clergy examined research figures!
    They simply cherry-pick snippets which support their own prejudices.
    Societies which banned slavery, gave the votes to women, allowed gays to serve in the military and even allowed same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, have not fallen apart.
    If you are not gay, fine. I am gay, fine. My brothers are straight, fine.
    Some gay friends have adopted two children. The kids are happy at school, totally like ordinary kids at home; socially adept, pleasant, humorous and secure. Much more so than when with their drug-addicted parents.
    Churches: get real!

  • teigitur

    Pot, kettle and very dark colour Mgr!

  • SparkinTheDark

    Leave the poor man alone.
    the real question should be was the standard of provsion of those 13 agencies any good, and their culture in any catholic. Nope. So no loss. And collectively so small as not to be significant parts of the voluntary sector anyway

  • Simon Gardner

    Hasn’t every social reform been led by “a minority” including Christianity?

  • nytor

    Standard of provision any good? Yes, they placed many of the hardest to place disabled children! How DARE you suggest that their closure is no loss and their work not of any worth?!

  • JabbaPapa

    You’re very confused — Christianity is not a “social reform”.

  • Hi

    So wrong. Civil marriage is not a church issue. Why is this any worse than divorce. Both are wrong in the eyes of the church. But what goes on for non-religious people is no business of the church.

  • Adam

    What an insult to all the martyrs who have gone before. The good Bishop should be reminded that in the short term we will lose many battles but in the long term we will win the war. Perhaps he ought to read the psalms. 

  • Simon Gardner

    Well fair point but once it probably was. (If you ignore the hocus pocus.) 

    In any case. I’m assuming the Bishop thinks it was.

  • Gavin Wheeler

     “there is little doubt that some of the more outrageously violent
    militants in the gay lobby will in fact attempt to force this or that
    Catholic Church to “marry” them, if this Law is passed…”

    Has that happened in any of the countries where gay marriage is already legal?

    Honest question, I don’t know – all I can say is that on looking all I’ve not found an example.

  • nytor

    In the eyes of the Church (and indeed of the law) marriage is marriage. It is or it isn’t. The form of the ceremony undertaken to enter into it is beside the point. Civil marriage or religious marriage do not exist as concepts in either Canon law or the law of the civil sphere.

  • Guest

    This is the same bishop who, in a pastoral letter to his flock in 2009, caused grave scandal by using the film ‘Brokeback mountain’ to illustrate his teaching on ‘relationships’. It’s not possible to take him seriously (as a Catholic, let alone a bishop).

  • nytor

    Oh amongst other things. He said you couldn’t teach young people about salvation because they wouldn’t understand. He derided those who went to regular confession as not experiencing real conversion. He won’t wear the zucchetto (inverse pride!). He doesn’t support the EF.

  • Benedict Carter


  • Benedict Carter

    You are wrong, fine.

  • Benedict Carter

    I fancy moving on to Pope without the usual intervening period of Bishophood. 

  • Benedict Carter

    I don’t think you’ve got the point being made Jabba, which is that Conry has articulated a Cowards’ Charter.

    If only we could see them FIGHT!

  • Benedict Carter

    You were educated I take it at the comprehensive school otherwise known as the back of a rice krispies packet?

  • Benedict Carter

    Excactly Kevin.

    The Bishops should be telling these people that such behaviour will send their eternal souls to hell, not trying to out-sociologist the sociologists. They do it better.

  • Benedict Carter

    Google Basil Loftus and see what you get. 

  • Benedict Carter

    1Matthew 5:11   Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake.

    2Luke 6:22   Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 

    Scorn, mock and hate away Jimmy.

  • JabbaPapa

    The gay militants in the UK are particularly litigious compared to other countries.

    The question has been put before the courts here and there, albeit indirectly … some US churches have, de facto, been sued by homosexuals after refusals to host their “marriage” ceremonies.

    (undoubtedly, many more such complaints have been attempted, and so far, thrown out by the Courts)

  • JabbaPapa

    “Interesting” fantasy life you seem to have …

  • Acleron

    De facto – concerning fact.

    Ref 1) Not a church or even a building associated with a religion, in fact it is a farm: simply discrimination.

    Even the article mentions

    ‘While the law has an exemption for religious halls and membership organizations, the farm doesn’t fall under these categories.’

    Ref 2) Nothing to do with marriage, the couple are suing because church refuses to give one of the couple the same insurance rights as others. 

    Ref 3) From a religious blog, and nothing to do with getting married in churches but of the behaviour of marriage commissioners. The action is being brought by theose acting on behalf of some commissioners, not any gay group.

    Ref 4) Yet again not a church, it was a campground at the seaside.

    De facto? Hardly.

  • nytor

    Sometimes, mon frere, you manage to say succinctly what I could only say in a paragraph!

  • nytor

    The bishop is surely right in that there was no real campaign for this. Stonewall did not want it. It was initiated by that appalling creature Cameron to show how “progressive” he was.

  • nytor

    “The gay militants in the UK are particularly litigious compared to other countries.”

    This is true. I don’t believe for instance that the Chymorvah B&B case was anything other than a deliberate sting.

  • nytor

    Ha, thank you, but I think the idea of being a bishop is terrifying. Where would one start? One has an uncatechised laity who espouse dodgy and in many cases even heretical ideas, a priesthood which is little better, a society not disposed to listen, a legal system stacked against one and most terrifying of all – the balance sheet will show that the diocese is in the red. No thanks!

  • nytor

    It was because if they use the word Catholic they have to abide by Church law. He has allowed them to sever that connection and operate as a non-Church agency whilst continuing to fund them – not the case elsewhere, and a completely disgraceful position. The faithful are paying for this secular agency which has no obligation to operate according to Church principles. The man is not fit for his office.

  • JabbaPapa

    de facto actually means something like “as the facts seem to suggest (to me)”, instead of just meaning “in fact”.

    You can interpret the facts according to whichever manner of your choosing of course, but when I make statements of fact, I don’t qualify them using an ambiguous Latin adverbial.

  • JabbaPapa

    No, I did get the point — but that doesn’t mean he’s not deserving of at least *some* form of defense…