ROCKFORD, Illinois, May 30, 2011 ( – The Catholic Diocese of Rockford, IL announced the closing of their adoption agencies last week, forced out of service due to new legislation that would oblige them to service homosexual couples.

Catholic Charities of Illinois has been in business for more than 100 years, providing adoption and foster-care homes to hundreds of children.  Currently, the Diocese handles approximately 350 foster family and adoption cases in 11 counties in northern Illinois with a state budget of $7.5 million and 58 workers who will now no longer have jobs.

The Diocese announced that the agency is being forced to opt out of contracting with the State of Illinois for these services because of the Illinois legislature’s failure to enact an explicit amendment to the new Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.  The amendment failed despite the efforts of Catholic Charities directors and the lobbying efforts of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

The amendment would have allowed Catholic Charities to refer unmarried, cohabitating couples, whether same-sex or opposite sex, to other agencies so as to not violate the teachings of the Catholic faith when the Civil Unions law goes into effect on June 1.

“Catholic Charities and other religious agencies implored the State of Illinois to allow their agencies to refer such couples to other adoption and foster care agencies so as to not violate the moral teachings of their faith,” said Penny Wiegert, diocesan director of communication. “Tragically, that did not happen.”

“Because of this failure and the anticipated legal challenges it will present to our free exercise of religion, the Diocese of Rockford is forced to discontinue all state-funded adoption and foster care operations,” Wiegert said.

Catholic adoptions in Illinois may take a different form in the future and the Diocese will report as the process evolves.

“Legally, albeit emotionally painful, we determined this was the right decision to make for the moral and financial future of the Diocese of Rockford,” said Ellen B. Lynch, general counsel for the Rockford Diocese.

“The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion. Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion,” Wiegert said. “We simply can not compromise the spirit that motivates us to deliver quality, professional services to families by letting our state define our religious teachings.”