Catholic Charities in Illinois Fight Back
Special Report - June 8, 2011
As Illinois’ new civil unions law takes effect this month, the leaders of three Catholic Charities in the state are taking a pro-active approach to the impending threat to religious liberty posed by the law, which has already led another diocese in Illinois to end its state-funded adoption and foster care services. The Catholic Dioceses of Springfield, Peoria, and Joliet in Illinois have filed a lawsuit against the State in an effort to protect their ability to continue to provide state-funded adoption and foster care services to children without violating the religious tenets of the Catholic faith regarding marriage by being forced to place children with unmarried homosexual or heterosexual couples in civil unions.
On June 7, the religious agencies, which are represented by the Thomas More Society, filed the lawsuit in the Sangamon County Circuit Court, asking the court “to declare that they are legally justified to continue their current practices of working only with married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals,” while referring civil unions couples to other agencies around the state. According to the Thomas More Society, the lawsuit “seeks a declaration that the charities are in full compliance with Illinois law in their current practices and an injunction against further action by Illinois government officials to the contrary.”
“Child welfare advocates know it is in the best interest of Illinois children for Catholic Charities to stay in this business,” said Steven Roach, Executive Director for Catholic Charities in the Springfield Diocese, in a statement. “It’s tragic that there are people who believe unnecessarily disrupting the lives of thousands of vulnerable children is an acceptable outcome in this situation.”
In March, Catholic Charities in Springfield received a letter from the Illinois Attorney General’s office, alerting the agency that the office had received complaints that Catholic Charities “discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital status and sexual orientation in its provision of adoption and foster care services.” The letter demanded that the agency provide the Attorney General’s office with several documents for its investigation into the discrimination claims.
“Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois,” said Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society in a statement. “Catholic Charities has a clear right under Illinois law to pursue its charitable good works in the true spirit of the Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount, faithful to the essential tenets of its Catholic faith.”
As we previously reported, the Catholic Diocese of Rockford in Illinois announced last week that it was ending its 100 year-old state-funded adoption and foster care services because of concerns about the civil unions law.
Civil Unions Law Forces Adoption Retreat - June 1, 2011
Delaware Approves Civil Unions - April 19, 2011
Marriage Battle Rundown - February 2, 2011
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