Catholic adoption and foster care services are shutting down around the country in the name of LGBT rights. But governments, courts and Catholic organizations aren’t the only ones involved. There’s another group caught in the middle: children.
On Easter Monday, a federal appeals court sided with Philadelphia after the city cut ties with contractors working in foster care who refused to place children with gay couples – on the grounds of discrimination.
The decision directly affects Catholic Social Services (CSS), part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which stands by the Church’s teaching on traditional marriage.
In other words, it’s a Catholic organization that is Catholic.
According to many of the media headlines, the case centered solely on anti-LGBT discrimination, rather than on anti- religious liberty discrimination.
NPR’s headline declared “Catholic Foster Care Agency Cannot Discriminate Against LGBTQ Couples, Court Says” on April 22.
That same day, a headline from NBC News read, “Philadelphia can exclude foster agency that won’t work with gays, court rules.”
A day later, on April 23, Newsweek published a story with the headline: “Catholic Foster Agency Decries Court Ruling That They Cannot Discriminate Against LGBTQ Couples.”
But, as Catholic News Agency reported, CSS “has never been the subject of discrimination complaints by same-sex couples.” The agency argues that it aids every child, no matter his or her race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
And, as a judge deciding the case noted, CSS also refuses to place children with cohabitating, unmarried couples–clearly applying its adherence to Catholic teaching on sexual morality with consistency.
For more than 50 years CSS has partnered with the city, says Becket Law, which is involved in the case. And children need those homes.
“There are 6,000 foster children in the City of Philadelphia,” a press release from Becket Law read on April 22:
The need to find those children homes is so dire that earlier this year the city put out an urgent call for 300 new families to become foster parents. But shortly after this call for help, the city inexplicably prohibited Catholic Social Services from placing any more children with the families it has certified—solely because of the agency’s religious beliefs.
Philadelphia isn’t alone. On April 22, the Becket Fund filed a lawsuit in Michigan on behalf of St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a contractor that runs foster care and adoption programs. The Catholic organization is challenging a settlement by Michigan that demands agencies place children with gay couples.
Both Philadelphia and Michigan aren’t isolated incidents – they’re part of a larger trend that punishes Catholic organizations’ stance on marriage.
In New York, Catholic Charities of Buffalo ended its foster and adoption services in 2018 because of its stance on marriage.
Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois closed its programs 2011 because of a new requirement to place children with gay couples in order to receive state money.
The year before, in Washington, D.C., Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington was forced to shutter its adoption and foster care programs because of a new marriage law.
Both Catholic Charities in Boston and in San Francisco ended their adoption services because they refused to place children with gay couples in 2006.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has recognized this as a growing threat to Catholic organizations.
“Among many current challenges, several state governments have sought to trample on the conscience rights of Catholic charitable service providers,” the USCCB’s website states:
Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, including the neediest children seeking adoptive and foster families, as well as birth parents who wish to turn to faith-based providers in order to place their children with adoptive parents.
In other words, this isn’t just affecting Catholics. Countless American families, parents, and children are impacted too.