The Roman Catholic Bishop of Motherwell said yesterday that the Church in Scotland would close its biggest adoption agency rather than help same-sex couples to adopt children.

Bishop Joseph Devine said that St Margaret’s Catholic Adoption Agency in Glasgow would close rather than abide by the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Catholic agencies place around 40 of the 200 children adopted in Scotland every year.

“It would be a great loss because Catholic family care agencies have done such wonderful work,” the bishop told the Daily Express.

St Andrew’s Adoption Agency in Edinburgh, Scotland’s only other Catholic agency, is reportedly considering its position.

“The Church is not being forced to close adoption agencies,” said Christina Stokes, spokesperson for gay equality organisation Stonewall Scotland.

“And if they do so it is because they are putting dogma before the interests of children.”

Adoption agencies have until December 2008 to apply the new regulations or face prosecution.

Last week another adoption charity, Catholic Care, opted to end its adoption service, which placed 20 children with new families every year.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations, which came into force earlier this year, protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people from discrimination when accessing goods and services.

The government briefly considered an opt out for Roman Catholic adoption agencies, which receive a total of £10 million a year from local councils.

After meeting with MPs and the Cabinet in January, former Prime Minister Tony Blair bowed to strong criticism from his own party over the exemption.

Over the last 20 years, 13 of the 720 adopted children placed by Catholic charities have been with gay or lesbian single people.

The Vatican believes gay adoptions are “gravely immoral.”