Three Illinois Catholic dioceses dropped their lawsuit against the state on Monday to allow them to preserve their foster home services strictly to married heterosexual couples, and as a result, more than 1,000 children will have to be transferred to other agencies.
A joint announcement by the dioceses of Springfield, Belleville, and Jolie in Illinois declared the end of the partnership between the state and the Catholic charity that served to take care of fostered children and place them into safe family homes, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The dispute between the Church and the state concerned new civil union laws that prohibit discrimination against same-sex couples in the adoption process. The Catholic churches filed a lawsuit requesting they be allowed to adhere to their beliefs and only place children in the homes of married heterosexual couples or single parents living alone, but after going through multiple hurdles, they resigned their petition.
Catholic Charities in several Illinois dioceses cited a cause in the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act that defends religious organizations from being forced to recognize civil unions, but lawyers for the attorney general insisted that the clause only protects clergy who do not want to marry same-sex couples.
Rev. Pete Jankowski from St. Patrick Catholic Church in Joliet shared with The Christian Post that he was saddened by the developments, but that the Church cannot continue to provide services that go against Catholic beliefs.
“As a pastor I am very aware and very grateful for all the services provided by Catholic Charities. Many of my parishioners have been involved with Catholic Charities as recipients of services and as volunteers. It is sad that Catholic Charities will no longer be able to provide adoption or foster care services because of a state law that would force us to provide services in direct opposition to Catholic teaching,” said Jankowski to The Christian Post.
The pastor added: “I will pray and ask my parishioners to pray for all those impacted by this devastating turn of events.”
In a statement by Bishops Paprocki, Braxton, and Conlon from the Illinois dioceses, the clergy declared: "The Catholic Church has successfully partnered with the State for half a century in providing foster care and adoption services. While the State has forced the Catholic Church out of state-supported foster care and adoption services, the losers will be the children, foster care families and adoptive parents who will no longer have the option of Catholic, faith-based services."