In a recent post I highlighted a section of the pre-election guide published by the CBCEW Choosing the Common Good. The words of this section read something like this:
The virtue of courage ensures firmness, and the readiness to stand by what we believe in times of difficulty. It is the opposite of opportunism and of evasiveness (p. 12).
The opposite of opportunism and evasiveness. I like that formulation very much. 'Opportunism', the vice of short-termism and 'evasiveness' the vice of moderation.
So we can only applaud the news today that the High Court has approved the appeal made by Catholic Care, the Catholic adoption agency connected to the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesborough and Hexham and Newcastle. The Charity Commission has been ordered to reconsider Catholic Care's request to be made exempt from the 2006 anti-discrimination legislation which in the concrete meant Catholic agencies could no longer refuse to place children with homosexuals.
So what can we draw from this incident? Well, let's not be hasty. The Charity Commission has yet to reconsider the case of Catholic Care. But, it seems that insofar as these dioceses have shown 'firmness and the readiness to stand by what [they] believe in times of difficulty', they have not only been true to the principles of Choosing the Common Good; they have also shown that the nannying, secularist, anti-discrimination legislation passed by the current pond-dwellers in Parliament was not some inexorable and supreme edict which had to be be swallowed whole, but was rather emminently, pre-emminently contestable. Hang on folks, I feel a Shakespeare moment coming on. Yes, here we go:
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day (Henry V).
So bravo, Catholic Care, for reaching parts other Catholic adoption agencies have failed to reach ... as far as I am aware. Well, okay, many were under the control of trustees anyway, and of these a couple signed away their Catholic identity in order to preserve their work with children. Salford's Rescue Society - founded by the venerable and intrepid Cardinal Vaughan when he was bishop of that see - was dissolved. I'm not sure if any other dioceses have actually gone to court. Could these people have fought alongside Catholic Care? Could they have? I simply ask the question.
I note that elsewhere Catholic adoption agencies have even closed their doors, rather than comply with the imposition of legislation requiring them to place children with gays. Boston archdiocese took that option in 2006. Only last month the Archdiocese of Washington DC went the same way. Hang on, another Shakespeare moment dawns ...
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named.
Such actions are not always possible. Such actions are sometimes compromised by calculations the details of which we are hardly privy to. But doesn't Catholic Care prove something really important in the context of the UK?
Shouldn't there be now an examination of conscience here among those who have the responsibility for such matters, among those who apparently feel that there is nothing to be gained by conflict with the government? I read these lines of Bishop McMahon to another Catholic blogger concerning the position of the CES regarding the Children, Schools and Families Bill:
There is no question of the CES colluding with the Government.. I also believe that confrontation with the Government over this Bill would not achieve anything.
Maybe it wouldn't. Maybe it wouldn't achieve anything practical. I dare say confronting institutions more powerful than you rarely achieves anything tangible. But wouldn't it just be a sign, if nothing else, a sign in this case that this government is robbing parents of their rights, children of their innocence, and imposing relativism by diktat? And isn't it true that God asks us not to be victorious but only to be worthy of victory?
BUT, what if, WHAT IF confrontation did actually achieve something, my Lord? What if - as in Catholic Care's victory in the High Court - confronting the government made the agents of power crumble?