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Conservative group differs with Rockford Diocese decision to drop adoption and foster care

Monday, May 30, 2011

* You may have seen this story last week about the Rockford Diocese dropping adoption and foster care services because of the new civil unions law

The Rockford Diocese announced Thursday that it would end those services rather than be forced to serve same-sex or unmarried opposite-sex couples. The agency served children and families for more than 100 years.

“It’s the moral teaching of our faith that we believe in the natural order of marriage. In order to serve our children best, we believe that they be in that kind of a family,” said Ellen Lynch, general counsel for the diocese. “This is not a judgment on whether or not they are loving or capable. We are strictly following the teachings passed down by our faith.” […]

The agency was forced to opt out of its contract with the state for adoption and foster services because legislators failed to enact an amendment to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act that would have allowed Catholic Charities to continue its practice to refer unmarried couples, whether same or opposite sex, to other agencies.

* But the conservative Thomas More Society strongly disagrees with the legal reasoning behind the decision

“Catholic adoption agencies have no need to stop serving foster and adoption families,” said attorney Peter Breen of Chicago-based Thomas More Society. “In our view, Illinois law does not require sectarian agencies to abide by the same non-discrimination standard as non-sectarian agencies. We’re encouraging Catholic Charities adoption agencies to continue their work just as they have before.” […]

Thomas More Society attorneys argue the Illinois Human Rights Act currently does not force Illinois non-discrimination public accommodation laws on sectarian organizations, only non-sectarian groups. The Illinois Human Rights Act defines specifically where the non-discrimination laws apply, and sectarian adoption agencies are not listed. […]

Because “non-sectarian adoption agencies” are listed and sectarian are not, Breen argues that Catholic Charities may continue to operate without referring for fostering or adoption same sex or opposite sex couples whose partnerships are not considered marriage by the church’s definition.

* Whatever happens, the kids will apparently be cared for

Transitions like this have happened in the past, and other agencies are expected to step up to support the children and families served by Catholic Charities, officials with Children’s Home + Aid Society and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois said. Each agency serves families that are married or unmarried, including gay and lesbian partners.

“We’re sad to lose the partnership with Catholic Charities in this community,” said Kathy Reese, program director for Children’s Community Services of LSSI. “The foster care community here is very collaborative … if we’re called upon to be of help with this situation, we’ll stand ready to work with Department of Children and Family Services in any way that it’s deemed appropriate.”


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - John A Logan - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 7:44 am:

    If the Catholics have jumped the gun but closing up shop and the Moore Society is correct then they need to reverse course. However if that legal opinion is not correct I say good for the Catholics. Homosexuality is seen as a sin by the Catholic church, and if that is the way they see it, then I don’t blame then for not wanting to place children in those homes.

  2. - wordslinger - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 8:24 am:

    –Homosexuality is seen as a sin by the Catholic church, and if that is the way they see it, then I don’t blame then for not wanting to place children in those homes.–

    By that logic, they only place needy children with non-sinners? That must be a long application form.

    Coupled with the More Society’s opinion, it appears they’re just playing politics here, which is a very secular game.

  3. - soccermom - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 8:31 am:

    I do not think that foster children should be placed with the proud. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that pride goeth before a fall, and I think that would make a home very dangerous for young children. They call them deadly sins for a reason!

  4. - walkinfool - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 8:45 am:

    As is too often the case, a Catholic diocese has deliberately misconstrued a piece of legislation in favor of a political agenda. The Thomas More society is correct, this diocese is wrong. And worse, they are stopping services they could provide under the law, while lying about it to their own church members. Disgraceful.

  5. - Liberal Lady - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 9:06 am:

    If they can’t abide by the “same non-discrimination standard as non-sectarian agencies” they should have never had a state contract to begin with.

    The church has a right to practice what they preach, but not with state money or state contracts.

  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 9:47 am:

    Liberal Lady is correct.

    In accepting taxpayer dollars to provide foster care and adoption services, Catholic Charities is acting as an agent of the state.

    The state may not discriminate in providing taxpayer-funded services, and therefore, neither can their agent.

    The Thomas More Society is correct, however, that if Catholic Charities wants to discriminate with their own money, they are more than free to.

    The good news is that when Catholic Charities was dropped from foster care in the Chicago (no one would insure them after rampant problems) we learned that their caseload can be transitioned fairly seamlessly.

    I hope the children currently in Catholic Charities’ care, their foster parents, and many of their case workers find homes in other agencies soon.

  7. - Anon3 - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 11:36 am:

    It is time for CC to get out of the business and I mean business and focus on its core reasons to exist.
    I am sorry that some of the employees will lose their jobs but the are professionals who can find jobs with agencies who can contract with the state.
    They catholic church does not have to enter into contracts with the state. The good news is they will not have to wait for the slow payments anymore.

  8. - Wensicia - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 11:51 am:

    I have no problem with the Catholic Church further marginalizing themselves through playing politics. If they can’t abide unmarried and homosexual couples and choose to discriminate against them, they shouldn’t be in the child placement business to begin with.

  9. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 12:10 pm:

    Hope they did not allow divorcees —- also sinners — to be adopters

  10. - Anonymous - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 12:38 pm:

    How is it discriminatory or bigoted for members of a well recognized religious denomination to exercise their faith and act upon their beliefs?

    Religious objections to homosexuality were not recent cultish fads, but represent the norm in Judaeo-Christian thought for about 3,500 to 4,000 years. That is not a mere short term aberration.

    Why is that vocal opponents of Catholics and Evangelical Protestants seldom if ever reference that Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims also oppose homosexuality? It seems that no one ever goes on record to criticize these groups for opposing gay rights, but everyone feels free to pile on Catholics and Evangelicals.

    It is appropriate to debate these issues, but try to be honest when you do so.

    Of course, we could put the question to a vote at a public referendum, but certain activists do not like that given that whenever the voting public is allowed to express their viewpoints at the ballot box gay rights and same sex marriages and civil unions usually go down to defeat. It is easier to ramrod such laws through the courts or a one party dominated political system than by appealing to the voting public.

  11. - Liberty_First - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 1:07 pm:

    Amazing how people don’t get their facts straight. Private adoption providers should be allowed to place in homes using their criteria just as an individual your woman would have the choice. If a young woman wishes not to have homosexuals parent her child when she cannot, is the state going to force this? If a homosexual couple wants to adopt they can to to a secular or homosexual agency.

  12. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 1:39 pm:

    I think most of us are objecting to the Catholic Church using their belief that homosexuality is a sin, yet of the multitude of sins out there this seems to be the only one they object to…

  13. - Dirt Digger - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 1:59 pm:

    That’s a pretty entertaining position. Don’t stop adoption services…because it’s okay to keep discriminating.

  14. - wordslinger - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 2:00 pm:

    Why is that vocal opponents of Catholics and –Evangelical Protestants seldom if ever reference that Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims also oppose homosexuality? It seems that no one ever goes on record to criticize these groups for opposing gay rights, but everyone feels free to pile on Catholics and Evangelicals.–

    Gee whiz, can I be first on the list? I’m there, brother, as a sinner (some days, more than others).

    The Gospels are the greatest code of ethics in any languages. The books that were left out of the Gospels (what are you going to do? politics) are also very instructive. I suggest everyone read them.

    But don’t start peddling some nonsense that you’re going out of business because the STATE won’t support your efforts in discriminating against “loving and capable” parents because you don’t like the answers to question you have no business asking anyway.

    Clean up you own side of the street before you start casting stones.

  15. - Fitzy - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 2:10 pm:

    I think you are missing another point. This is not about beliefs, but the spending of tax dollars. If your religious group wants to place children is “good Christian homes,” it is free to do so on its own without my tax dollars subsidizing it. I’m sure we can both agree that just as I believe that my tax dollars shouldn’t subsidize this aspect of your faith there are aspects of faiths different from yours that you would not like to see your tax dollars spent on. The focus in this case, for the state, should be on the best interest of the children involved. Just as some single and heterosexual households are not the best places for these children to be placed, some gay households are not in the best interest of the child. This is a decision that should focus on each child and each home without some blanket faith-based prohibition. That is the duty and job of the state. If the views of your religion fall outside of the focus of the state, it should continue on without the state. Catholics are free to put their money where their mouth is and drop a few extra dollars in the basket each Sunday to fund their beliefs.

  16. - Liberty_First - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 2:13 pm:

    Fitzy - the Catholic Church has not taken unmarried couples or singles either. How is this different?

  17. - Wensicia - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 2:14 pm:

    ==Why is that vocal opponents of Catholics and Evangelical Protestants seldom if ever reference that Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims also oppose homosexuality? It seems that no one ever goes on record to criticize these groups for opposing gay rights, but everyone feels free to pile on Catholics and Evangelicals.==

    I don’t see Muslims and Jews forcing their religious views on states and the federal government, trying to force laws that exclude others.

  18. - wordslinger - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 2:22 pm:

    –Fitzy - the Catholic Church has not taken unmarried couples or singles either. How is this different?–

    They’re claiming they’re going out of business because they can no longer “accept” state money due to civil unions. The Thomas More Society, a very conservative Catholic organization, is calling their bluff.

    So what are the real reasons? Why are they short on cash to fulfill their mission?

  19. - Fitzy - Monday, May 30, 11 @ 2:26 pm:

    I’m not sure that is always the case. Catholic Conference of Illinois executive director Robert Gilligan was quoted by a Catholic press agency as saying “We believe that children are best served by being in the home of a married couple or a single individual.”
    Maybe he misspoke. Either way, my belief is that the church’s blanket beliefs of who would make a good parent should exactly match those of the state if the church is to get public money to do so. Single, gay, straight, etc.

  20. - getyourfaxstraight - Tuesday, May 31, 11 @ 7:35 pm:

    FACT: The state allows foster parents from any agency to reject the placement of a homosexual child in their foster home based on their moral or religious objections/beliefs even though the foster parents are paid with state dollars. The state simply places the child in a diffrent home. Why then are foster care agencies not allowed this same exemption when it comes to working with homosexual “parents”? Makes no sense and smells like discrimination against these religious organizations. Contracting as a vendor with the state does not make you an agent of the state.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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