Why is a dissenting charity stripped of its Catholic status a member of Caritas Social Action Network?

In the light of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio on Catholic charities the question has to be asked why is Caritas Care, the former social care charity of the Diocese of Lancaster that was stripped of its right to call itself a Catholic charity, a member of the Bishops Conference’s Caritas Social Care Network?

An even more urgent question is why is Mr Jim Cullen, the director of Caritas Care, listed as a CSAN trustee, despite the fact that he publicly opposed his bishop over the issue of allowing gay couples to adopt Catholic children? Mr Cullen not only opposed Bishop O’Donoghue and the Church’s teaching on homosexual adoption at board meetings of the former Catholic Caring Services, but also opposed him and the Church’s teaching in newspapers and national radio.

Mr Cullen told Bishop O’Donoghue that he was only one voice among the the members of the social care charity of the Diocese of Lancaster. The board of Catholic Caring Services voted against Bishop O’Donoghue to accept the government’s plans for gay adoption even though the bishop had made it clear that to take such a decision would be to reject the teaching and moral authority of the Church.

Why has the Bishops Conferences’ Social Action Network accepted Jim Cullen and Caritas Care as members of their Catholic network when this individual and charity have publicly disobeyed the explicit instructions of the bishop within his own diocese?


20 comments to Why is a dissenting charity stripped of its Catholic status a member of Caritas Social Action Network?

  • George Gregory

    Could it be that the Bishop’s Conference refused to back Bishop Pat O’Donoghue?
    Their response to “Fit for Mission” was underwhelming despite, or maybe because of Rome’s endorsement of it. Since the publication of these documents which were mildly critical of the Ecclesdon Square set up and the various national commissions POD was criticised by his fellow bishops and I am told treated with much less than fraternal warmth.

  • Peter Haydon

    The Cabrini Society also seems to be a member organisation.
    I doubt that it has put forward any gay couples as adoptive parents but it has indicated a willingness, in principle, to do so.
    I can understand that the bishops felt it better to continue the body with the slight risk of being forced to assess gay couples. It seems to me that, having once admitted a breach of principle, there is no ground to resist any further demand. It also shows that the professed opposition to requiring agencies to consider gay couples was false. Now is the opposition to gay marriage any more credible?
    Deacon Nick: would it be wrong to curse Tony Bliar?

  • rifleman 819

    Deacon Nick,

    Confession at the outset-I don’t know much about the politics of Catholic, “Catholic” …or sort-of maybe “Catholic” charities but what I feel is that there appears to be a lack of integrity on the part of certain people.

    If anyone , even our own Bishops, does not wish to be a Catholic anymore -well then ….after an examination of conscience…why not just leave?
    The Papal Zouaves won’t be chasing you to return , will they?

    But it is dishonest in the extreme to claim to belong to the Church , yet constantly undermine it from within.We have enough external opponents to be getting on with, so Quislings are an added luxury.

  • Daniel

    Very apt questions – to which an answer is definitely called. Perhaps we should write formally to the President of the Bishop’s Conference, sending a copy to the Nuncio….and if we don’t receive a reply we should repeat the exercise every couple of weeks until a response is given.

  • Eric

    I am not sure I view this arrangement as problematic as you imply. The Church is walking a tightrope between avioding legitimising the Charity and cutting it complely free and thereby giving up any hope of holding any influence over it. The present arrangement is a compromise with the renaming signifcantly reducing the likihood of confusion but retained membership of the network still giving the Church some influence over the charity. Maybe not perfect, but I would not rush to condemn the Bishops here – good men trying to do the right thing.

  • Eric

    Just a question from genuine ignorance. Do these adoption charities ever adopt a child to a single person?

    • Lynda

      Yes, they do. It used to be just in exceptional cases, such as aunts, or other relative, but now, many single (women, certainly) get to adopt a child, which I believe is generally wrong.

      • Peter Haydon

        I think that what you write is not absolutely accurate. The adoption order is made by a court and is a legal act. The agency puts forward the proposed adopter or adoptive couple.
        This is what I understand to be the position in English law but I stand ready to be corrected if a reader has direct experience.

  • rifleman819

    Deacon Nick,ladies and gentlemen,

    Something has been revolving in my mind all day.If all these once 100% Catholic adoption and wider charities are in varied stages of disengagement from the Church….quite apart from anything else…what has happened/is happening to the money?
    Presumably they were left gifts, benefactions and bequests etc from wills drawn up at a time when much of what is happening today in terms of social turmoil was quite unthinkable.
    I presume Charity and Trust laws must apply and are legally binding on the trustees?
    And also that the spending and application of these monies must be made open and accountable?

    • John

      You are right. Moneys left t o a charity MUST be used for the purposes of the charity, in this case Catholic adoption. If the charity ceases to be Catholic, the money must be returned.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      rifleman819: I write as a retired lawyer who acted for many Catholic charities so I have some experience of this. The problem in the past was that a Charity could be declared null and void and have its money confiscated to the Crown if it was found to support “superstitious uses”. I can remember the Treasury actually threatening an Order of contemplatives with just that when faced with a proposed scheme designed by Arthur Andersen of Enron fame. Thus Catholic lawyers in the past advised against spelling out that a Catholic charity was in fact Catholic. It was only in the 1920s when F.E.Smith (a protestant Ulsterman!) as Lord Chancellor ruled that the Mass should no longer be regarded as a superstitious use – his reasoning being that English Law should be brought into line with our “Great Dominions” – he was thinking of Canada and Australia and probably Ireland as well. But even in the second half of the 20th a gift for masses has been queried by the Courts.

      However it was not until the Charities Act of 1960 which required Charities to the evidenced in writing so as to be registered that things changed.

      To get over this problem, in the past, one appointed Bishops, Priests or Religious as the Trustees or insisted that the Trustees were practising Roman Catholics. We imagined that this would insure compliance with the teachings of the Church. Events have proved this to be a forlorn hope in some cases.

      So the Cabrini Society had the three Bishops of Southwark, A&B and Portsmouth as Trustees. When the adoption by homosexuals question came up they got the agreement of the Charity Commission to change the class of people who could be trustees to just anybody. So the Bishops quietly washed their hands of the matter and passed all the assets, built up from contributions by Catholics, to lay trustees but with the same original objects that made no mention of Church teaching.

      So Catholic money and assets have just gone AWOL.

      I am afraid that the Pope’s recent motu proprio on cutting loose those charities who call themselves Catholic but do not adhere to Catholic teaching may be wrongly used to get rid of other charities and their money as being embarrassing to some cowardly clerics

      • rifleman819

        Dear Nicolas

        I read your most detailed background to the financial aspects of what were once 100% Catholic charities with absolute horror.

        This is simply scandalous theft from the Church and from the families of long deceased, pious Catholics whose thoughts when drawing up their bequests could never have strayed to outcomes such as you described.

        So you then have the bizarre situation in which originally Catholic money is now possibly funding groups whose aims are diametrically the opposite of those who gave the money in the first place?
        I am stunned by this. This is totally outrageous.

        • rifleman819

          Second request to Nicolas on Catholic charities etc,

          Presumably ,however,those who are the present trustees in 2012 are still legally obliged to submit their accounts to the Charity Commission and thus be in the public domain and open to scrutiny?

          My fear would be that there might be some “fast dealing of cards” and that the audit trail on certain bequests could be lost in the night of fog and mists?

          And even with new non-Catholic oversight-the command and control has been lost forever?

  • Damask Rose

    Oh, gays again. I guess it’s a case of “who you know”, or “scratching backs”. If only the Bishops looked after their heterosexual sheep so well…

  • rifleman819

    Deacon Nick.

    On various types of Catholic charities….clergy and Church-employed laity.In all this is the interpretation of the “Spirit of Vatican 2″ etc in action , we might say.

    Today the 8th Dec 2012 is exactly the 47th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council under Paul VI.

    Just a few bits of maths here….if you were a junior seminarian in Rome in 1962, say aged 18, that would make you born in 1944.In 2012 this means you are now aged 68 and have already been collecting your OAP for three years.

    You would have been there to see the Council debating etc during the early years of your priestly formation and in 1965 you would have witnessed the conclusion of the Vatican Council.
    Let’s say there was a birth in your close family in that year….that person would now be 47 years old.Let us assume that when he/she was growing up that the seminarian becomes a priest and joins a parish somewhere in the UK.

    If your putative nephew/niece takes an interest in the wider history of the Church…and starts asking you questions when they are 18 years old, in 1983(a year after the Falklands)…this means that even secondhand knowledge of Vatican 2 is already at least 30 years old.

    So of all the dissenting members , several associated with various Catholic charities etc, not one of them under the age of 60 has the remotest personal awareness of the great debates and the “Zeitgeist” prevailing at that time.It is all hearsay. And their attitudes to authority are shaped by this hearsay during their growing-up years. They know nothing else.

    Perhaps this explains why they act as they do?

  • Karla

    Off topic

    SPUC challenges MPs on imminent same-sex ‘marriage’ bill

    The pro-life group petitions every MP to vote against the Westminster bill that could be presented as early as next week, and vows to campaign against any MP who votes for it


  • Nick,

    Your comments of 8 December are, as usual ‘spot-on’. and just about sum the historical facts. You have to be well over 60 years of age to be in a position to talk about the Council with any authority. It is clear the Council’s teaching reflects the Churche’s prerennial teaching. Unfortuntely, things went sadly wrong from the beginning when ‘The Spirit of The Council’ as opposed to the Sensus Fidei took over and so the authentic teaching in so many areas has been ‘lost’ and been hi-jacked by a large number within the so called liberal establishment. Your Blog and comments are most helpful. Hard work for you but a great Apostolate. Prayers for you Nick.
    Frank Swarbrick

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