The dispute between Catholic Charities and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services continues, with the most recent round going to the government. The organization has been trying to hold onto its state contracts to provide foster care and adoption services. Several dioceses from across the state have joined together to maintain the longstanding relationship. The Rockford Diocese is not involved.
The argument dates back to June 1, when the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act went into effect. Catholic Charities has long had a policy not to adopt to unmarried couples. Nor will the agency allow unmarried couples to be foster parents — and couples who have entered into a civil union are not married. The organization has made it clear that doing so would violate its religious tenets.
The state has argued that the practice is a violation of the new state law. Civil unions grant these couples the same rights available to married couples, according to DCFS.
In July, a circuit court judge ruled that the state could cancel its contracts with Catholic Charities. The decision avoided the civil rights and freedom of religion issues by focusing on the legal relationship between the state and the organization.
Catholic Charities has appealed that decision. It also petitioned the court to allow the contracts to remain in place while the appeal is pending. This week, the court said no. The organization is likely to appeal this ruling as well.
Caught in the middle are the 2,000 children served by the organization.
Source: The Boston Pilot, “Judge denies Catholic Charities’ request to continue adoption contracts,” Sept. 28, 2011