27 March 2010
Homily of Bishop John Fleming, President of Cura, at Mass to mark the conclusion of the Cura Annual Conference 2010
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.’
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.
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.
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer, 087 310 4444