Illinois Catholics lose fight over adoptions, foster care

August 19, 2011

(RNS) An Illinois judge has ruled that the state can terminate adoption
and foster care services with Catholic Charities, saying the church-run
agency has no "recognized legal right" to a state contract.

Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled Thursday (Aug. 18) that state
officials can cancel contracts with Catholic Charities after church
officials said they could not comply with a new civil unions law that
could require them to place children with same-sex couples.

"No citizen has a recognized legal right to a contract with the
government," Schmidt ruled, lifting a July 12 temporary injunction that
maintained the annual contracts dating back 30 years.

Schmidt said the church had failed to show a "recognized property
right" entitling them to maintain the contracts.

The state moved to end the year-to-year contracts after four
Illinois dioceses said they would not place children in homes with two
unmarried adults. Church attorneys claimed a religious exemption from
state anti-discrimination laws.

"Clearly the intent of the civil union law was not to force the
state to end these contracts and force the transfer of thousands of
children's cases," said Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, saying he was
"extremely disappointed" by the ruling.

The Chicago-based Thomas More Society, which represents the four
dioceses, said attorneys "are reviewing the ruling and considering next
actions."

A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the
Chicago Tribune that Schmidt's decision "will allow the state to
continue focusing on what's best for the care and well-being of
children."