After 90 Years, Catholic Charities Foster Care Will Cease in Illinois

From the Thomas Moore Society…

State’s Action to Remove Children from Charities’ Care Forces Cessation of Lawsuit

(CHICAGO, IL) Today November 14, 2011, the Thomas More Society announces that it will file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Illinois’ Catholic Charities against the State of Illinois, as the actions of the State have prevented the Charities from being able to obtain relief from the Illinois court system. Because the State of Illinois has put an expedited process in place to transition to other agencies the foster children under the Charities’ care, any relief ordered by the Appellate Court would come too late to save the Charities’ foster care ministry. Both the Circuit and Appellate Courts denied the Charities’ emergency motions to prevent the transition.

“The dismantling of Catholic Charities’ foster care ministry marks a tragic end to 90 years of foster care service by some of the most effective child welfare agencies in Illinois,” said Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, which represented the Charities in their lawsuit against the State. “The Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act only passed after specific assurances that the law would not impact the work of religious social service agencies. Specific protections for these agencies were written into the law, but unfortunately, Illinois officials refused to abide by those protections. This stands as a stark lesson to the rest of the nation that legislators promising ‘religious protection’ in same sex marriage and civil union laws may not be able to deliver on those promises.”

Earlier this year, the Catholic Charities affiliates of the dioceses of Springfield, Joliet, Belleville, and Peoria took legal action in Springfield, IL, to seek injunctive relief against efforts by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) to halt the Catholic Charities’ social service agencies from any further participation in Illinois’ programs for foster care and adoption. They charged that the State distorted the meaning of relevant Illinois statutes, including the recently effective “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” ignoring that Act’s explicit exemption for religious social service agencies.

About the Thomas More Society

Formed in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm based in Chicago. The Society defends religious liberty, marriage, and the sanctity of human life in courtrooms across the country. For more information, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.

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  • I've noted other places that people like Byrne, and apparently the Thomas Moore Society, have misconstrued the issue. It is not the necessary end of Catholic Foster Care, since they certainly could do it based on donations. It is the end of them being a state contractor, and the state took back the children. The lower court ruled that the Church did not have a right to a state contract. For that matter, the state probably wasn't paying them, anyway.

    For better or worse, the legislature (instead of some judge in Massachusetts, California, or Iowa) determined what the public policy of this state is. The Catholic Church does not have a constitutional right to state funds, nor, as far as I am concerned, to impose its religious dogma and various forms of hypocrisy (compare the Fr. McCormack case to the Sandusky coverup) on the rest of us. Its rights would be violated if the state said, regardless of its contractor status,it had to violate its religious beliefs, but here the state took back its wards and made other arrangements, and the charities did not move in court to enjoin that, but dropped their suit that was ultimately going to be unsuccessful. Caso cerrado.

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