Patrick Craine

Illinois Catholic agency says it had ‘no choice’ but to offer same-sex adoptions

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

BELLEVILLE, Illinois, November 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic agency in Illinois severed ties with its diocese last week in order to comply with a state law forcing adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples.

The head of the former Diocese of Belleville child welfare agency, now called Christian Social Services of South Illinois, told LifeSiteNews they had “no choice” but to abide by the law after exhausting their legal options.

Gary Huelsmann, executive director of the organization once known as Catholic Social Services of South Illinois, said the decision “boiled down to the Catholic Church needing to stay true to its core beliefs and the agency needing to care for all of these abused, neglected children.”

“In order to be able to continue to do that with state funding we had to disassociate ourselves from the Church.  So it’s as simple as that,” he told LifeSiteNews.

However, the agency’s decision to sever with the church has its prominent critics. In a column last Friday, Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, argued that by following the state’s laws, the organization is renouncing God’s law.  “State law came into conflict with God’s law, so the leaders of this group decided that God’s law would have to go. Something about having no god but Caesar, perhaps,” he wrote.

In his column, entitled ‘Christian Social Services of Illinois: martyrs need not apply’, Lawler compared the situation to that of the Maccabees, who suffered death rather than violate the dictates of their Jewish faith.

“The Maccabees fought valiantly, and suffered tremendously, to preserve the integrity of their faith,” he wrote.

“Now Christian Social Services will enjoy the benefit of government grants that are denied to the adoption agencies that have retained their Catholic identities. And a few thousand years ago, no doubt some Jews grew to enjoy the taste of the pork that Antiochus forced them to eat. But do you know something? I don’t remember the names of those accommodating Jews. I remember the Maccabees.”

The child welfare agency announced the name change Thursday, while a statement from the Diocese of Belleville indicated that the group “will no longer be connected to or sponsored by the Diocese.”

“It is hoped that this new entity will experience no interruption in its services and programs,” said the diocese.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from diocesan spokesman Fr. John Myler by press time.

The newly named agency has offices in five communities in southern Illinois: Belleville, Carbondale, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Vernon and Olney, and there currently are 187 employees serving approximately 2,000 clients each year.

The move to separate from the diocese follows a months-long fight with the State of Illinois after the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act came into effect in June.  Though the bill’s promoters had actively campaigned to dispel the “myth” that it would affect faith-based adoption agencies, after it passed the state immediately moved to end its contracts with Christian adoption agencies that refused to offer same-sex adoptions.

Numerous Catholic agencies, including the one in Belleville, actively opposed the state’s actions by taking them to court, but the appeals court recently refused to grant the agencies a stay on an order by the state forcing them to renounce their beliefs or transfer their children to secular agencies by November 30.

“No one fought harder than we did.  I mean there’s maybe a half dozen people who fought really hard and I was one of those,” said Huelsmann.  “We lost all of our attempts to change this, and we couldn’t get the appellate court’s stay, so we had no choice.”

He said the agency had only received about 0.5% of its funding from the Diocese of Belleville, with 85% coming from the state, and 14.5% from a variety of other sources.

In addition to losing the diocesan funding, Huelsmann said they will “probably not, initially” be doing fundraising or promotion within the parishes either.  “There has to be, for all sorts of reasons, both from the Church’s perspective and the state’s perspective, there has to be sort of a clean break,” he explained.

The Catholic Church teaches that same-sex adoption does violence to children by putting them in a position of dependency in an environment that would impede their full human development.

Asked whether the organization had had its own “core belief” against same-sex adoption, and whether they have now given up that belief, Huelsman said, “That’s a really good question.”

“As a child welfare agency we have to abide by the law, that’s what we have to do,” he continued.

“Whether or not a same-sex or civil union couple will come to us in future, we have no idea.  It may not even happen,” he added.  “Of all the millions of moving parts, this is just such an insignificant part of it all.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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