Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Easy Decision but a Hard Choice

Word has it that Catholic Charities of Rockford announced Thursday that the agency will halt its state-funded foster care and adoption services Wednesday — the day civil unions take effect in Illinois.  The decision is the first of what could become a domino effect of Catholic Charities leaving the foster care and adoption business to avoid liability if state law requires them to place children with parents in civil unions — either gay or straight.

Now will come the test for Lutherans... except that Lutheran agencies doing the same things are joint with the ELCA which welcomes the Illinois action... So I fear that the only choice we might have is to pull out of the joint work which had  been done with the ELCA through the Lutheran Social Services network OR perhaps allow the LCMS and ELCA to be separate when it comes to this aspect of their joint work...

For the Catholic Charities of Rockford, this means a loss of about half their entire operating budget, with drawl from work with more than 350 children, and a blow for the cause of children at risk and in need.  Yet, it seems they know that there is a line and the Church cannot cross it -- even when it risks the very cause of the church agency or the holy grail of the budget.  While I am saddened by this necessity, I applaud the courage of the Catholic Charities in holding to their position in spite of what must have been great pressure (both from within and without).

So goes the situation in Illinois...
Without a specific provision protecting religious agencies, church officials said, the agency can't risk losing state contracts or facing lawsuits if it turns away gay couples or others in civil unions. State funds make up about half of Catholic Charities of Rockford's $7.5 million operating budget.

"While we understand leaving this work will be very painful for our client families, employees, volunteers, donors and prayerful supporters, we can no longer contract with the state of Illinois whose laws would force us to participate in activity offensive to the moral teachings of the church — teachings which compel us to do this work in the first place," said Frank Vonch, director of social services for the Diocese of Rockford, which includes Kane and McHenry counties.

Lawyers for Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services have been examining whether religious agencies that receive public funds to license foster care parents are breaking anti-discrimination laws if they turn away openly gay parents.
Several attempts have been made in Springfield to pass an amendment that would exempt religious child welfare agencies, but none have made it to the floor for a vote.  According to the Chicago Tribune.

And so goes the situation in many other states headed down the same path.... I guess it will be long meetings and hard decisions does the road....


Anonymous said...

The concern of civic leaders in
Rockford is not the ethical but the
economic. They worry about the 50
jobs that will be lost to their
community due to the Roman Catholic
agency closing.

The truth is that high moral values
are costly. Regardless of the
economic impact I applaud the Roman
Catholic decision.

Anonymous said...

My fear for America is that not only
will gay marriage be accepted as
normal, but that the Christian
community in America will remain
silent. Gay marriage in the 21st
century will be the downfall of
the family as God instituted it to be

Terry Maher said...

Unaccustomed as I am to having much good to say about the RCC, from whence I came, when you're right you're right and I too applaud the decision.

Jerry Roseleip said...

It is my hope that LSS will fight for the right to continue their work using Freedom of Religion.

Maybe the Catholic Charities and LSS (without ELCA)should join forces in this.