WE have great sympathy for the gay couple, Anglican priest Fr Martin Reynolds and his partner Chris Iles, who wish to formally adopt a 19-year-old youth with severe learning difficulties.

The pair, who have cared for the young man since he was four, wanted to go through a Roman Catholic adoption agency to have the relationship legalised.

But the Catholic Church has refused and has said it will close down its agencies nationally if it is forced by law to put children up for adoption to gay couples.

This is because Catholic doctrine says that homosexuality is wrong and sexual unions should take place only between male and female.

Like it or not that is the church's rule, just as it is opposed to abortion and opposed to divorcees remarrying (though will grant annulments under certain circumstances).

For many people these ancient religious laws have no place in a changing world. For others they stand for truths that cannot be dissolved because of modern attitudes.

It is clear that Fr Reynolds and Mr Iles are good people who have given their foster son a better life than he would have had without them. We hope they can successfully adopt him through another agency.

But we do not believe the Catholic Church should be forced to breach its doctrine on this issue, any more than other religions should not be forced to break their sacred codes.