Byline: EILEEN FAIRWEATHER
WHEN the Archbishop of Canterbury supported the Catholic Church in the gay adoption row last week, many were surprised.
Dr Rowan Williams, usually considered a moderniser, was criticised by liberals for asking Tony Blair to exempt Catholic adoption agencies from Government regulations - being introduced in April - which will force all agencies to offer children for adoption to gays.
The Guardian newspaper, in a comment piece,
even suggested that the church's moral authority was 'fatally compromised'.
Now it has emerged that Dr Williams may have been influenced by his close involvement with a remarkable couple who rescued a boy brutalised by a notorious social services paedophile ring.
Horrified by the inference that the Archbishop is homophobic, the couple have spoken for the first time of their friend's ' immeasurable' help as they struggled to save a child driven to despair by abuse while in the care of the London borough of Islington.
And they described how Dr Williams even devoted an entire week's prayers for Liam, the terribly damaged boy they went on to foster.
Liam Lucas was just one of the children abused by predatory paedophiles who took advantage of far-Left Islington Council's childcare policies in the Eighties and Nineties, when it proactively recruited gay social workers.
Paedophiles exploited its well-intentioned commitment to equal opportunities and soon most of Islington's 12 children's homes had child molesters on the staff who cynically pretended to be ordinary homosexuals. Numerous children and other staff made allegations of abuse, but were branded homophobes and ignored.
Liam - now 29, in a permanent relationship and the proud father of year-old Isabella - was even falsely classified as gay by Islington social services, which decided he should be fostered only by single men.
Quaker couple Brian Cairns, 57, and his wife Kate, 56 - who became friends with the future Archbishop when they were students together - fought to foster him instead. The horrors Liam later disclosed eventually helped end a 20-year regime of appalling abuse.
A lengthy investigation by The Mail on Sunday's sister paper, the London Evening Standard, resulted in governmentordered inquiries, but at least 26 members of Islington social services staff, despite being accused of grave offences, were simply allowed to resign, often with glowing references.
Mr and Mrs Cairns and their foster son Liam were so concerned by the 'rigidity' of the current debate about adoption and equal opportunities for gays, and the invisibility of children's needs, that they have decided to go public.
The Church of England's own adoption agency already allows gay adoptions, and it is thought the Archbishop's support for the Catholic Church's exemption plea mainly reflects the importance he places on freedom of conscience and thought.
Mrs Cairns is herself a leading social work academic, author and trainer.
'I am not anti gay, any more than is Rowan Williams,' she said.
'I have a close relative who is gay, and I am emphatically not opposed to gay adoption. I am, however, deeply concerned by the bullying, intolerant nature of the present attacks on people with religious or other concerns about it.
'It feels horribly familiar and I fear that rigid thinking about equal opportunities may again blind people to paedophiles who claim to be gay, when all they really want is access to vulnerable children.
'On radio and TV this week I have repeatedly heard politicians insist that every adoption agency, whatever its religious beliefs about the best home for children, must offer gay people " equality of access to all goods and services".
'My blood has run cold every time I have heard that. Children in care are not goods or services, chattels to be claimed or shared. …