By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, DC, February 17, 2010 ( - The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has been forced to give up the foster care program it ran with the aid of public funds, after repeated warnings that there would be no other choice should the D.C. City Council insist that the archdiocese recognize gay "marriage" partners in its employment practices.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Catholic Charities handed over the foster-care program intact to the National Center for Children and Families on February 1.  Catholic Charities, whose foster program included 43 children, 35 families and seven staff, runs more than 20 social service programs for the District of Columbia and receives $20 million in city funding.
Before the City Council approved the marriage bill in December, the archdiocese pointed out that, unless religious exemption language were broadened, the law would force Catholic Charities to violate Catholic moral teaching in providing spousal benefits for "married" homosexual partners of employees.  Council members ignored the request for better language protecting religious rights. 

Pending a period of congressional review, the “marriage” bill will likely become law within a few weeks.
When in November critics accused the archdiocese of using the foster care program to strong-arm the city, Archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Gibbs shot back, saying, "We are not threatening to walk out of the city."

Instead, she said, "the city is the one saying, 'If you want to continue partnering with the city, then you cannot follow your faith teachings.'"

Following news of the transfer, Catholic League president Bill Donohue said Archbishop Donald Wuerl "did not want to end the foster-care program, but he was left with no realistic option."

"District lawmakers could have granted the kind of religious exemptions that would have ensured a continuation of services, but instead they sought to create a Catch-22 situation for the archdiocese," said Donohue.  "Surely they knew that Archbishop Wuerl was not going to negotiate Catholic Church teachings on marriage, yet that hardly mattered to them. 

"The real losers are the children who were served by the Catholic Church."
He continued: "Those who say that Wuerl is throwing the kids overboard are phonies. If Planned Parenthood were told that as a condition of public funding it had to refer Catholic women having second thoughts about abortion to a crisis pregnancy center, it would scream violation of church and state, refuse the money and end this program.

"Well, Archbishop Wuerl isn’t about to allow the state to run roughshod over Catholic doctrine, and that is why he is being forced to drop the foster-care program."

See related coverage:

D.C. Archdiocese Threatens to Axe Social Service Programs over Same-Sex "Marriage" Law

Lawmakers Refuse to Address D.C. Archdiocese's Concerns Regarding Same-Sex "Marriage" La