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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 14:13 GMT
Gay priest tackles foster critics
The gay priest at the centre of the fostering row
The priest has asked not to be named to protect the boy
A gay priest who has fostered a 15-year-old has said he agrees that, in an ideal world, the boy would be placed with a heterosexual family.

The priest was responding to those who are criticising him and the incoming leader of the Anglican church, Dr Rowan Williams, over the matter.


In an ideal world, I agree that a mother and father are the best...but that's not the real world

Gay priest
At the weekend the priest, who has asked not to be named to protect the identity of the teenager, met Dr Rowan Williams, who is currently the Archbishop of Wales.

He gave Dr Williams, his diocesan bishop, an undertaking that he would no longer conduct any services in Monmouth.

But church traditionalists have been angered by the news, arguing children should be raised in heterosexual, two-parent families.

"In an ideal world, I agree that a mother and father are the best - that not to say that I agree with their (the fundamentalists') philosophy about gay people," the priest told BBC Wales News Online.

"But that's not the real world."

He explained the boy, whom he and his partner have given respite care to for 10 years, has severe learning and behavioural problems, which make the child difficult to place.


Social services have been irresponsible

George Curry, Church Society

He said social services were looking for a suitable placement with a family, and if one was found, then the boy would no longer stay with him and his partner.

"This isn't an issue of me being a priest....it highlights how there are no placements available for someone with his (the boy's) level of challenging behaviour," he said.

The row has emerged as Dr Williams' predecessor's Dr George Carey prepares to step down from the Canterbury post.

Dr Williams, who is described by some as too liberal in his views, has previously refused to stigmatise gay and lesbian members of the clergy.

Asked whether Dr Williams has been supportive, the priest added: "Dr Williams has shown neither support nor disdain for me personally, and has always acted with the finest pastoral concerns."

However, the conservative evangelical group Reform has accused Dr Williams of "validating" the gay movement in defiance of Church policy.

Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales
Dr Williams: Criticised for his "liberal" views

"Social services have been irresponsible," said Church Society chair George Curry.

"The Bible tells us same-sex relationships are always sinful and wrong ".

"Any Christian leader who hears of a clergyman in sexually active same-sex relationship must be disciplined. We cannot have our leaders endorsing immorality."

Last month, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey raised concerns the Church was being "steadily undermined by dioceses and individual bishops taking unilateral action ... in matters to do with sexuality".

The archbishop's representative on the Church in Wales child protection panel, Dr Heather Payne, said Mr Curry was "trying to make a hostage to fortune out of Dr Williams".

Challenging behaviour

"[Many] foster children have major problems ... and are children in distress.

"What we are looking for is people able to help support them, build their resilience and deal with any challenging behaviour.

"It is simply inadequate to focus on one aspect of somebody's behaviour and say 'that qualifies you or doesn't - that is not the way foster carers are approved."

In May, MPs paved the way for gay couples to adopt when a Conservative motion to exclude same-sex adoptions was defeated at Westminster.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The gay priest who is fostering the boy
"We found ourselves looking after him because there was nowhere else for him to go."

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28 Oct 02 | Wales
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