Catholic Charities of Peoria and Joliet, Illinois, following the lead of the Rockford Diocese, announced Friday that they will discontinue adoption and foster care programs because of the state’s civil unions law that took effect June 1.
The groups informed the state of their decisions in separate letters to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
“It is the religious practice of Catholic Charities not to place children with unmarried cohabiting couples, whether same sex or opposite sex,” wrote Glenn Van Cura, executive director of Catholic Charities of Joliet, in a letter to DCFS sent this week.
In a separate letter, Tricia C. Fox, chief executive officer for Catholic Charities of Peoria, added that the suspension is temporary. Licensing could resume if language is added to the civil union law allowing religious agencies to refer applicants to one of the state’s 45 other child welfare agencies if they don’t fit Catholic Charities’ criteria, Fox said.
The decision by the two dioceses will affect a combined 963 foster homes in Peoria and Joliet.
Previously, the Rockford Catholic Diocese announced that it would discontinue adoption and foster care programs rather than be forced to serve same-sex or unmarried opposite-sex couples.
Illinois’ civil unions law requires any charity that accepts state money to provide child-care services to treat people in civil unions as it would treat married couples. The state provides Catholic Charities $30 million annually for its services.
In April, the state Senate voted down a measure that would have allowed religious and faith-based groups to deny same-sex couples from adopting or fostering children.