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Top Administrator at San Francisco Catholic Charities Is A Gay Adoptive
Father | Valerie Schmalz | March 20, 2006
San Francisco, March 21, 2006 _ The director of programs and
services of San Franciscos Catholic Charities is an openly gay man who
has a daughter he adopted four years ago with his homosexual partner. Glenn
Motola was recently promoted to the position as second in command at the Catholic
social service agency, even though his homosexuality and his status as an
adoptive father were well known at the agency.
That fact summarizes the
challenge confronting the new archbishop of San Francisco, George Niederauer, in
the face of the burgeoning controversy over Catholic Charities adoption
placements with homosexual couples.
The controversy was brought to the
boiling point by a March 9th directive from Archbishop William Levada, former
archbishop of San Francisco and now prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine
for the Faith. Levada acknowledged that children had been placed with homosexual
parents under his watch, and said it could no longer occur, in line with the 2003
statement by Levadas predecessor, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger now Pope
Benedict XVI saying homosexual adoptions "mean doing violence to these
children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place
them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human
Niederauer issued a statement last week that said: "We
fully accept and faithfully teach what the Catholic Church teaches on marriage
and family life. In light of these convictions, we currently are reviewing our
adoption programs to determine concretely how we can continue to best serve
children who are so much in need of a home. We realize that there are people in
our community, some working side by side with us to serve the needy in society,
who do not share our beliefs, and we recognize and respect that fact."
Archdiocesan spokesman Maurice Healy told Ignatius Insight that gay adoptions
would no longer be allowed. Healy did not know if any children were placed with
gay foster parents by Catholic Charities and referred questions to Catholic
Charities, which did not return repeated telephone calls.
interview published in the March 21st edition of the San Francisco
Chronicle Catholic Charities executive director Brian Cahill disputed there
is now a prohibition on gay adoptions at his agency. "This is an outright
statement that is false," Cahill said of Healy's assertion. "Mr. Healy is, A,
mistaken, B, doesn't speak for Catholic Charities and, frankly, it's clear to me
that he's not speaking for the archbishop these days." The Chronicle also
reported that a spokesman for the state attorney general did not know if funding
would be withdrawn by California, as it was in Massachusetts when Boston Catholic
Charities was forced by the states bishops to cease same sex adoptions.
On Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle
attacked Catholic teaching against gay adoption, singling out Levada but
failing to mention the new archbishop, Niederauer. In the March 19th editorial,
stated: "San Francisco's Catholic Charities has a history of finding quality
homes for children whose special needs make it difficult to find adoptive
parents. But if they are forced to carry out Levada's order, these children have
even less of a chance of finding a home."
Archdiocesan officials were
not sure if the fallout from the decision would mean Catholic Charities would be
forced to stop placing any children for adoption and they said the situation is
under review in the archdiocese and at Catholic Charities. Cahill, executive
director of Catholic Charities in San Francisco since 2000, has said
non-discrimination laws and regulations mean Catholic Charities is obliged to
place children with homosexuals.
Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the city
attorney, told the Chronicle in the March 21 article that none of Catholic
Charities' funding from San Francisco pays for adoption programs.
percent of Catholic
Charities' $36 million annual operating budget comes from government sources,
according to its website. Of that, in the most recent budget year, $5 million
came from the city of San Francisco, $14.3 million came from the federal
government, and $800,000 from the state. According to national Catholic Charities
officials, most adoption funding is state money allocated via local government
contracts. Most children placed for adoption by Catholic Charities were
originally placed in foster care because of abandonment, neglect and/or
In San Francisco the policy of Catholic Charities has been to
openly allow some gay adoptions, with Cahill praising "loving" gay homes in
various publications. Cahill, who has a gay son, recently promoted the director
of HIV/AIDS services, Motola, to his second-in-command as director of programs
and services. Motola was quoted and described favorably as a gay adoptive father
in the archdiocesan newspaper, Catholic
San Francisco, in a December 3, 2004, article written by the public
relations person for Catholic Charities. Motola is listed on several websites as
a gay father, as well as in the December 6, 2005, issue of the alternative gay
The Advocate reported: "The organization's
director of programs and services, Glenn Motola, is gay--and out at work. He and
his partner of 14 years, Mark Walden, adopted their daughter four years ago,
though they went through a different agency to avoid a conflict of interest.
I have never felt disrespected in this agency for who I am and how I live
my life, says Motola."
According to the Advocate, San
Francisco Catholic Charities also includes at least four openly gay board
San Francisco Catholic Charities board member Nanette Miller, a
lesbian, told the Advocate about her support for gay adoptions: "Part of
giving care to everyone is not being discriminatory. I do firmly believe that
being a qualified parent is not defined by sexual orientation."
Gavin Newsom, a strong proponent of gay marriage, gay adoption, and abortion
rights, has so far declined to comment directly on any city reaction to the
statement. A mayoral spokesman referred Ignatius Insight on Friday to an interview
in which Newsom attacked Archbishop Levadas March 9th directive calling it
"wrong-headed," "corrosive," and "divisive." Newsom continues to describe himself
as a "practicing Catholic" but said he wont go to Rome for Levadas
installation as cardinal because of Levadas statements against gay
Archbishop Niederauer was installed as San Franciscos
top prelate on February 15th and this is the first public crisis he has faced in
his new post. He flies to Rome this week to attend the installation
of Levada as a cardinal. In the meantime, many questions remain about how
Niederauer and other bishops will address the sensitive and controversial issues
raised by Catholic Charities involvement in gay adoptions. And how might the
state and city governments change their relationships with Catholic Charities?
The answers may not come quickly, just as the questions certainly wont be
going away anytime soon.
(Editor's Note: This news article is an updated version of a March 20th
Niederauer: No Gay Adoptions | The Moment of Truth in San Francisco
| Valerie Schmalz | March 18, 2006
Valerie Schmalz is a writer for IgnatiusInsight. She worked as a reporter
and editor for The Associated Press, and in print and broadcast media for
ten years. She holds a BA in Government from University of San Francisco
and a Master of Science from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown
University. She is the former director of Birthright of San Francisco. Valerie
and her wonderful husband have four children.
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