March 18, 2006

Gay adoption flap reveals growing gap between church, Beacon Hill


BOSTON -- Massachusetts, one of the most Catholic states in the country, is witnessing an ever-widening rift between church and state on a raft of social issues, from gay marriage and abortion "buffer zones" to stem cell research and emergency contraception.

The schisms reveal the once mighty political clout of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts is in a state of flux. Large numbers of state lawmakers still identify themselves as Catholic but are picking and choosing when to side with the church, and when to break with it.

The recent decision of Catholic Charities, the Boston Archdiocese's social service agency, to end its century-old adoption program rather than comply with state law barring discrimination against gays is just the latest fissure. ...

Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, a conservative Catholic and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, also blamed the church's political anemia on the clergy sex abuse scandal. He said Catholic politicians feel free to split with the church on key social and moral issues without fearing any backlash from voters or church leaders.

"At one time it was common that Cardinal Cushing would have a letter read in the churches on Sunday and Catholic politicians would be inclined to go along or take seriously what the church had to say," Flynn said.

Posted by kshaw at March 18, 2006 12:19 PM