As civil unions begin in Illinois, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet has announced that it has stopped processing applications for new foster or adoptive parents.
The diocese cited its “religious practice” of not placing children with unmarried, cohabiting couples of the same sex or opposite sex, a practice under increasing pressure from state law.
The June 1 letter from Glenn Van Cura, executive director of Catholic Charities in Joliet, notified the state government that the agency is “temporarily suspending the processing of new foster care and adoption applications.”
It did not say how or when the application process could resume, the Naperville Sun-Times reports. The agency presently handles 210 foster care and adoption cases.
The letter did not mention civil unions, which went into effect on June 1. However, the law which created legal unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples has already caused Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockford to announce an end to its foster care and adoption services.
Catholic Charities in Peoria has also said that it will stop licensing new foster and adoptive parents. All the Catholics agencies said they would continue working with the children they have already placed in homes.
Kendall Marlowe, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said this was “not a workable solution” in the long term as they will eventually run out of homes in which to place children.
“We would have been in this situation even without the civil union legislation,” he said.
Lawyers for the department and the Illinois attorney general were reviewing whether private agencies that take state money for adoption can refuse to license homosexual couples without violating the state constitution and Illinois Human Rights Law, Marlowe reported.
The Illinois legislature hastily passed the civil unions law late last year.
Catholic Charities had sought an amendment to the civil union law that would allow it to refer homosexual couples to other agencies that license foster and adoptive parents, but that amendment failed.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and the Catholic Conference of Illinois also opposed the bill because of its potential impact on the Church’s work in adoption and foster care and because it threatened to diminish the status of marriage in public life.