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Ill. Catholic Group Quits Adoptions

Ill. Catholic Group Quits Adoptions


One Catholic Charities affiliate in Illinois has announced it will cease providing adoption and foster care services because the state will not exempt it from serving gay couples.

The Catholic Charities office of the diocese of Rockford made the announcement Thursday after the state legislature failed to pass a bill that would have added the exemption to the new Illinois civil unions law, Catholic News Service reports. There is no word on whether the state's five other dioceses will follow suit.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois had sought the exemption in the form of an amendment to an unrelated bill dealing with electoral ethics. The bill passed the state senate Wednesday without the amendment attached, and it had already cleared the house. The amendment would have allowed faith-based agencies to refer gay and unmarried straight couples elsewhere.

Because of this, "the diocese of Rockford is forced to permanently discontinue all state-funded adoption and foster care operations as of June 1," diocesan spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said at a news conference Thursday. June 1 is when the civil unions law goes into effect.

Wiegert said the church "does not condone same-sex unions or unmarried cohabitation between individuals of the opposite sex. ... We believe in the natural order of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony between one man and one woman. We also believe and promote the optimal God-given privilege of every child to be reared in a safe and loving family with a committed and loving male father and female mother whenever possible."

Rockford's Catholic Charities had been handling about 350 adoption and foster care cases with a state budget of $7.5 million, CNS reports. Fifty-eight workers will lose their jobs as a result of discontinuing these services. The state's six Catholic dioceses handle about 20% of the adoption and foster care services in Illinois and have placed about 3,700 children over the past 10 years.

Anthony Martinez, executive director of the Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT advocacy group, issued a statement calling the Rockford diocese's move "a sad display of bigotry by Catholic Charities, and their bigotry will now be harming the children in their care." He added, "It is equally sad that they would invoke 'freedom of religion' as they make this announcement. That freedom is granted only when the religious agency is not funded by taxpayer dollars, and they are well aware of that. Luckily, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has been anticipating this move and has a contingency plan in place."

In other news related to civil unions, the Illinois Catholic Health Association has recommended that Catholic hospitals begin offering "employee plus one" rather than "employee and spouse" benefit packages beginning June 1. Also, the Illinois Department of Insurance has published a guide to civil unions for consumers and insurance professionals, available at

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