CNA Staff, Nov 4, 2020 / 12:35 pm
On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a Pennsylvania adoption case, as senior U.S. bishops warned of the case's potential consequences for religious freedom and the role of Catholic welfare agencies in American public life.
Fulton v. City of Philadelphia concerns the right of religious individuals to serve as foster carers while holding religious views about the definition of marriage. In 2018, the city of Philadelphia notified Catholic Social Services with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that their policies of not working with same-sex couples on foster care placements were discriminatory; the city stopped contracting with both services.
Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch, who have fostered more than 40 children and who partnered with Catholic Social Services, brought the case against the city that is currently before the Supreme Court.
Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, Archbishop Nelson Perez said that the city’s intransigence was excluding Catholics from living out a vocation of service, and leaving the most vulnerable children without a loving home.
“Essentially, we are being told that the Catholic Church must leave its faith at the door if it wants to serve those in need,” Nelson said. “But our faith compels us to do this work, and we have a right to conduct ourselves according to the tenets of our faith.”
“Each of our families is an agent for peace and healing, not just in the lives of the children they so generously bring into their homes, but in the neighborhoods they help to build up one person at a time,” he said.
“We do much more than temporarily fill a gap in the lives of vulnerable children in need of a loving home. We work to empower individuals seeking to restore their communities by making a difference in the lives of young people.”
On Wednesday morning, justices and attorneys both brought up the city’s relationship with Catholic Social Services, probing whether the arrangement was a contract or a license.