New SOT: Rockford Diocese Shuts Down Adoption Services

Just posted online, a new batch of Signs of the Times stories. (We'll be posting new SOT items every week over the summer.) The first item concerns adoption services in the Catholic diocese of Rockford, Ill:

The Diocese of Rockford has announced that its Catholic Charities offices will no longer offer state-funded adoptions and foster-care services after the new Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act took effect June 1. Because the law did not include an exemption allowing religious organizations to refer adoptions or foster-care arrangements involving same-sex or unmarried cohabitating couples to other agencies, "the Diocese of Rockford is forced to permanently discontinue all state-funded adoption and foster-care operations as of June 1," said Penny Wiegert, diocesan director of communications, at a May 26 news conference.

Advertisement

Catholic Charities activities not funded by the state—including private adoptions, school counseling, private family and marriage counseling, outreach and emergency services, immigration and refugee services and crisis pregnancy counseling—will not be affected. There has been no word from the other five dioceses about whether they would similarly discontinue state-funded adoption and foster-care services.

Tim Reidy

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Martin Gallagher
7 years 4 months ago
Does anyone know the details of the "Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act?"  Does it mandate that a private agency must provide adoptions for unmarried couples? 

It seems as though you would want that clarified before you decided to permanently stop a worthwhle service.  I wonder of Illinois' other dioceses have the same read of the new law.  Have any of them commented?
Todd Flowerday
7 years 4 months ago
I'm not sure this is as tragic as it's being spun.

The truth is that adoptions facilitated by the Church today are a mere fraction of what they were in the 1960's and 70's. In my diocese, adoption services were terminated years ago because the few cases (seven in five years) could be better handled by other agencies.

The real shame is that Catholic dioceses choose not to retool their adoption efforts. What do I mean by this? Well over 100,000 American children are orphans or have had parental rights terminated. They are available for adoption right now.

Instead of wringing hands and playing the victim, my suggestion is that bishops get off their butts and start promoting adoption as a choice for Catholic couples and families.

Adoption is not a cure for childlessness, as much as it is a solution for boys and girls who languish in foster care without permanent homes. If the bishops were really serious about their alarm at gays and fornicators adopting their handful of kids, we'd see some concern about those children not in our direct care.

Catholic Charities personnel could be redirected to work with Catholic couples, promoting adoption, getting home studies completed, making connections with secular agencies and state departments of human services. A convincing pro-life witness is needed today. Not whining. Not layoffs. Not a lack of imagination from our bishops.
Bill Freeman
7 years 4 months ago
@Todd - Thank you for your insightful comment.  The Bishops have created a straw man argument and used support of non-discrimination of the gay community as a convenient reason to exit from this important issue.  You would make a great manager of one of these programs.
Edward Visel
7 years 4 months ago
Is the Catholic Church really so against non-heterosexual two-parent households? I understand the Catholic ideal, but the reality is that the Church is full of divorced parents, single parents, and maybe a few very persistent gay parents. Isn't it more important that parents care for their kids?

Being from the Rockford Diocese originally, I understand their position. It is a very conservative diocese with an ideologically driven and uncompromising bishop. It is not a very welcoming place, unless you fit a very specific demographic.

But it is odd that Rockford is the only Illinois diocese shutting down operations. Perhaps it's just an effort to avoid legal costs; in any event, it's sad, not that the law exists, but that the Church can't accept the society which created it.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Father Michael Nixon and parishioner work a volunteer table at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla. Photo by Atena Sherry.
Much like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, the low-income neighborhoods east of Panama City, where St. Dominic is located, were especially hard-hit by the storm. Now residents here are desperate for help.
Atena SherryOctober 18, 2018
“I believe there are adequate, alternative options for true women’s health care out there, and Planned Parenthood is not needed,” said Alisha Fox, a health and wellness coach at a Catholic fertility center in Chicago.
Colleen ZeweOctober 18, 2018
 Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Souraphiel highlighted the role globalization plays in connecting young people in unjust ways.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 18, 2018
The pope said he would visit North Korea “if an official invitation arrives.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 18, 2018