Homily of Bishop John Fleming at Mass to mark the conclusion of the Cura Annual Conference 2010

27 Mar 2010

27 March 2010

Homily of Bishop John Fleming, President of Cura, at Mass to mark the conclusion of the Cura Annual Conference 2010

Adoption has a very long tradition.  It was practiced in ancient times and is rich in meaning, especially in Scripture, in both the Old and the New Testament. When St Paul wanted to explain to his listeners how they became God’s children he used this experience from ordinary life.  In his letter to the Romans he stresses that adoption is the process through which believers are given the Holy Spirit and brought into God’s life.  This Spirit then transforms us and moves us to reach out to God.  It empowers us to name God, calling him ‘father’. This spirit is not just a force which gives us the condition of a slave or the disposition of one who is linked to but is not part of God. Adoption makes us a part of God’s life, conferring on us, the condition of an heir and not of a slave.  Through baptism by water and the Holy Spirit, we are adopted and united with God in the most intimate of all relationships, that of father and child, and we share his life. Thus the Christian is able to pray to the Father with the same formula as that used by Christ, his or her brother. 

In his letter to the Ephesians, St Paul focuses attention on the family and community aspect of adoption.  For him, salvation, like the gift of life itself, comes to us, not in isolation, but in and through a community rooted in Christ.  It brings the individual in from the isolation of unbelief to the bonds of the community of those who believe.  For the Christian, therefore, our birth by adoption makes us the same as Christ, who was born the Son of God.  It changes our condition, inserts us into the family of the community of faith and the life of God.  It empowers us, therefore, to relate to and address God as ‘father.’


In our Christian faith birth by adoption in God brings with it full participation in the life of God.  It brings with it all the blessings lost by our original sin of disobedience.  In our natural world, birth by adoption also brings with it all the blessings of natural birth.  Human identity and a treasured sense of place in a family and its traditions are established.  Irreplaceable parental bonds are nurtured.  A deep awareness of belonging is fostered and the life of a family is formed, developed and grows.  Links with place, roots in a culture and the associations of childhood are each given to the newly born. 

Birth, whether by adoption or natural, brings with it not only the gift of life but gift itself. When a child is born it receives the gift of life from God and from its parents. Its very first act is to give.  It gives the gift of parenthood to its parents, both natural and by adoption.  As it rests for the first time in their arms, a child gives them the greatest gift of all, turning a woman into a mother and a man into a father.

For about the past quarter of a century birth by adoption has decreased significantly in Ireland.  Many Irish couples, therefore, when faced with the news that they are unable to give birth naturally now go, literally, to the ends of the earth to give birth by adoption to children whom they treasure above all else in life.  I welcome, therefore, the time which you have given at this annual conference to discuss adoption as an option in crisis pregnancy counselling.

The option of adoption is, as you have highlighted, one which deserves serious consideration in crisis pregnancy counselling.  The desire of couples who have not been blessed with children to adopt is presented by you as an option when looking at the various aspects of a crisis pregnancy. Having satisfied the competent authorities of their suitability for parenthood, parents by adoption provide both children and their natural parents with the assurance of a secure home and future. They also provide the person in this crisis with the reassurance that their child will be treasured, cared for properly and have every opportunity made available to them should they decide to present them for adoption.


Children born by adoption bring with them the gift of parenthood to many who would otherwise have lived their lives without the great and treasured gift of children. Their arrival changes adopting parents from a married couple into a mother and father and they complete the family unit established on the day of their marriage. They enrich and transform beyond all description the lives of their parents and they give them the hope of the continuation of their family, its life and traditions.  On the other hand children born by adoption also receive the blessings of the family circle and tradition of their parents.  Being so wanted for so long, they receive a special care and affection.  Birth by adoption, therefore, is one of the unsung hymns of human happiness and benefit for individuals and for society today. 

In this regard I welcome the views expressed recently by the Minister of State for Finance, Dr Martin Mansergh.  As reported in the papers he stated “My view is that voluntary agencies set up to respond to public needs in a way that reflects distinctive religious values should not be forced to act contrary to those values for example by being required to refer people to agencies that will help arrange abortion or to give children …. for adoption to gay couples. This is particularly so where there are other agencies willing to act.”  His statement is important in the context of the new Ireland in which we live, with its respect for diversity, inclusion and freedom.  It confirms the right of agencies with a religious ethos to receive recognition, support and respect from the State and from society for their particular work.

Finally, as I end my six year term of office as President of Cura, I take this opportunity to thank all of you for the work that you do in crisis pregnancy counselling and, in particular, for your support of me in my working with you.  Let us continue to pray for each other.

Notes to Editors:

  • Bishop John Fleming is Bishop of Killala and President of CURA.
  • The Cura Annual Conference was held in Athlone, Co Westmeath on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 March.
  • The themes of this year’s conference were: Adoption as an option in crisis pregnancy counselling and The role of the father in crisis pregnancy counselling.
  • The conference was attended by 180 volunteers from 16 centres and three outreach services around the country.
  • CURA, established by the Irish Bishops’ Conference in 1977, is a crisis pregnancy counselling service offering help and support to those affected by a crisis pregnancy. CURA is funded by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme. For details see www.cura.ie
  • See also feature on www.catholicbishops.ie for more details of the conference, a copy of the full conference programme, and a short information video about CURA’s services.


Further information:
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer, 087 310 4444