Adoption agency rejects Catholic parents

.- A Christian adoption agency said it does not place children with Catholic couples because their religion conflicts with the agency's Statement of Faith.

Bethany Christian Services stated its policy in a letter to a Jackson couple this month, and another Mississippi couple said they were rejected for the same reason last year.

"It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Bethany state director, Karen Stewart, wrote. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."

Sandy and Robert Steadman, who learned of Bethany's decision in a July 8 letter, said their priest told them the faith statement did not conflict with Catholic teaching.

Loria Williams said she and her husband, Wes, had a similar experience in September 2004.

The faith statement describes belief in the Christian Church and the Scripture. It does not refer to any specific branches of Christianity.

Part of it reads: "As the Savior, Jesus takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the one in whom we are called to put our hope, our only hope for forgiveness of sin and for reconciliation with God and with one another."

Bethany has 75 offices in 30 states, including three in Mississippi. It is based in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The offices are independently incorporated and are affiliated with various religions, agency spokesman John Van Valkenburg said. He couldn't say whether any were Catholic-affiliated.

He said the Presbyterian-affiliated Presbyterian Jackson office “included this practice of not including Catholics."

The director told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that Bethany's board will review its policy, but she didn't specify which aspects would be addressed.