Saturday, August 27, 2011

Illinois Judge Rules Against Catholic Charities

Illinois Judge Rules Against Catholic Charities

Bishop Says Illinois Political Establishment at War with the Catholic Community

        On Thursday, August 18, Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled that the State of Illinois may legally refuse to renew its foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities.  The ruling follows a decision by Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to no longer accept Catholic Charities’ contracts for foster care and adoption services because of the agency’s refusal to place children with unmarried or same-sex co

Judge Schmidt found that since Catholic Charities are not “required” by the state to perform the services, they have no “legally recognized property right to renew their contracts.”  Catholic Charities lawyer Tom Brejcha argues that the judge ignored the real issue, religious liberty.  Brecha stated that “The exercise of religion cannot be substantially burdened.  That alone could carry the case for Catholic Charities.  A lot of these people involved feel they are compelled by their faith.  The burden is pretty substantial.”

After the ruling, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria stated that he was “simply astonished” that Illinois was unwilling to grant the same type of religious accommodations that New York and Rhode Island had after establishing civil unions.  He said “Important elements of the political establishment in the State of Illinois are now basically at war with the Catholic community and seem to be destroying their institutions.”

The civil union law, ironically named “The Religious Freedom Protection Act and Civil Union Act,” was intended to protect the rights of social service organizations, including adoption agencies, to carry out their duties according to their faith.  Immediately after its passage, though, activists began challenging the ability of religious childcare agencies to prohibit the placement of children with same-sex couples.  A subsequent religious exemption amendment to protect the rights of these agencies was defeated in the Senate Executive Committee.

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