It started in Massachusetts, after that state became the first to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston announced it would end its adoption program before it was forced to comply with state laws preventing discrimination against married gay couples. Then last year, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington followed suit, shutting down its 80-year-old adoption program in the nation’s capital rather than help place children with gay foster parents.
Now the trend has spread to Illinois, where the Chicago Tribune reports that Catholic Charities in five regions decided to end their state-funded foster-care programs once that state’s civil union law took effect in June. Thousands of families – including 330 children in the Rockford area alone – were suddenly without an organization to handle their casework.
How compassionate of those “charities”!
Luckily, a secular organization – which includes many individual religious members – has decided to step up and take responsibility for some of the families abandoned by Catholic Charities because of their anti-gay religious bias.
David McClure, executive director of Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley, believes Catholic Charities left his agency no choice but to take care of the 330 children affected by [Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford]’s decision. […]McClure describes his organization as “secular and not faith-based,” but he adds that many social workers, including himself, draw on their personal faith to get their job done.
McClure also had watched employees, children and parents disperse when Catholic Charities of Chicago ended its foster care services in 2007. He didn’t want to see the same turmoil in Rockford. “I took a very deep breath because it’s much bigger than what we’re doing now,” he said. ” … The children needed some fairly immediate help, and that had to get started.“
McClure said his church has helped him understand gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t be excluded from the pool of prospective foster parents. He has watched same-sex couples in the congregation excel at raising children. Through conversations with gay members, he has learned to empathize with the challenges of being gay.”We don’t have enough foster parents, period,” he said. “My friendships with people at that church helped me realize that these distinctions don’t need to be made.”Here is another wonderful example of religious individuals rejecting dogma and embracing secular values and institutions as a way to help the greatest number of people.
McClure believes his children’s generation will move other churches forward on the issue. “We’re going to grow out of this,” he said. “It’s too bad it happened to the (Catholic) Church in this way. If you can’t adapt your institution to it, it’s going to create problems.”
Let’s hope more will follow.