Springfield, Illinois, August 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Illinois judge has ruled that the state of Illinois may legally refuse to renew its foster care and adoption contacts with Catholic Charities adoption agency over the agency’s refusal to place children with homosexual couples.
Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt on August 18th found that since Catholic Charities are not “required” by the state to perform the services of foster care and adoption, they have no “legally recognized property right to renew their contracts.”
This is the latest ruling against Catholic Charities affiliates that have refused to bow to state pressure and allow children to be adopted by homosexual couples.
While the case was handled by the judge as a matter concerning “legally recognized protected property interest,” Tom Brejcha, the lawyer for Catholic Charities, argues that the real issue is being ignored: religious liberty.
“There’s a lot to argue about here,” Brejcha said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “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.”
In response to the new ruling, Catholic Charities told LifeSiteNews that they “will review the judge’s ruling and we will confer with our Bishops, Boards and attorneys to determine our future course of action.”
Hours after the ruling, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, of Peoria, stated in a press release that he was “extremely disappointed” with it.
The bishop said that he was “simply astonished that the politicians of the state of Illinois seem to be unwilling to grant the same kind of religious accommodations that have been granted in the states of New York and Rhode Island regarding their establishment of civil unions.”
“mportant 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,” said Bishop Jenky.
Prior to the passing of the state’s civil unions act, its promoters had actively campaigned to dispel the “myth” that it would affect faith-based adoption agencies.
However, many religious commentators had warned that the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which came into effect last June, would inevitably be used as a weapon against religious agencies that offer civil services funded by the state.
Jack Smith, who writes on The Catholic Key Blog for the Diocese of Kansas City, wrote earlier this year that with “civil unions now the law [in Illinois], civil unions will also be the hammer against religious freedom.”
“Everywhere civil unions or same-sex marriages have become the law, they have been used to shut Catholic Charities out of adoption and foster care services. And there is no reason to expect they won’t be used to erode other religious freedoms down the road,” said Smith.
Erwin McEwen, director of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services, informed Catholic Charities in July that the state would not accept their contracts for the fiscal year of 2012 because they had “made it clear” that they would not comply with the new civil unions Act.
Catholic Charities fought this decision, however, and the state backed down after a state judge issued an emergency motion preventing the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) from ending its contract with the Catholic Charities. That emergency motion is overruled by the judge’s latest decision against Catholic Charities.