Several members of the Catholic Charities Board resigned this week in protest against Massachusetts bishop’s anti gay adoption stance.

Roman Catholic bishops in Massachusetts have requested that Christian social service agencies are exempt from gay adoption laws. The bishops said state law compromised their religious freedom by ordering them to consider gay people as adoptive parents.

They said in a statement, “Because of the Church’s teaching, Catholic agencies may not provide adoptions to same sex couples,” the bishops’ statement said. “Hence we intend to seek relief from the regulatory requirements of the Commonwealth on this issue.”

The Catholic Charities board replied with their own view, “We also cannot participate in an effort to pursue legal permission to discriminate against Massachusetts citizens who want to play a part in building strong families.”

“The course the Bishops have charted threatens the very essence of our Christian mission. For the sake of the poor we serve, we pray they will reconsider.”

Geri Denterlein, one of the board members who resigned, told the Associated Press, “I simply didn’t feel I could continue to serve as board member when we were at such odds with the way the hierarchy was approaching adoption policy,”

She highlighted a unanimous vote by the 42-member board in December to continue placing children in gay households. Ms Denterlein added that the bishop’s decision unfairly eliminates same sex couples even if they are the most appropriate choice.

Over the last 20 years, 13 of the 720 adopted children placed by Catholic Charities have been with same-sex households. The Vatican believes gay adoptions are “gravely immoral.”