Breaking News: Catholic Charities in Illinois Sue for Religious Liberty


In the Chicago Tribune:

Lawyers for Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Springfield, Peoria and Joliet are seeking an emergency injunction that would protect religious agencies who turn away unmarried couples who want to become foster parents -- including couples in civil unions.

In a petition filed today in Sangamon County Circuit Court, the three Catholic Charities agencies sued the Illinois Attorney General and Department of Children and Family Services for threatening to enforce new policies that accommodate civil unions, which went into effect last week...

In March, the attorney general’s office issued a letter stating that the office “received notice that Catholic Charities … discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital status and sexual orientation” in the provision of foster care and adoption services and demanded that Catholic Charities turn over a wide range of documents in response.

The charities ask the court to declare that they are legally justified to preserve their current policy of exclusively granting licenses to married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals and referring civil union couples to other child welfare agencies.

“Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois,” said lawyer Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, which is representing the charities in the lawsuit.

Steven Roach, executive director for Catholic Charities in the Springfield Diocese, said child welfare advocates should know it’s in children’s best interest for Catholic Charities to stay in the foster care business.

“It’s tragic that there are people who believe unnecessarily disrupting the lives of thousands of vulnerable children is an acceptable outcome in this situation,” Roach said.