Bishop Jenky’s Rallying Call: State of Illinois “At War” with Catholic Community Over Same-Sex Adoptions

The recent news that the state of Illinois will terminate its contracts to do adoption and foster care through Catholic Charities should not be taken lying down.

This happened as a direct result of the bad same-sex civil unions bill that went into law this June. A law that catholics (and other people) warned would result in, among other things, exactly this — Catholic Charities being forced out of the adoption business.

I called on catholics to oppose the bill before it was eventually passed, writing at the time (quoting the IL Catholic Conference) that the “Language in the bill offers little protection in the context of litigation that religious institutions and individuals will face if this bill is adopted.”

267 days later, here we are.

Furthermore, Catholic Charities being forced to shut down in yet another state was not an “unintended consequence” of the legislation. There are people who wanted this to happen and opposed efforts to improve the language to provide protection for religious groups and individuals. And right now they’re winning the fight to curtail religious freedom because catholics are not standing up for our rights.

Luckily, two bishops in Illinois (so far) are calling it like it is.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria, IL wrote (underlining mine):

“Catholic Charities is one of the lead providers of foster care services in the state. They have been valued partners for decades. 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.” He continued by stating, “We continue to believe we can adhere to our religious principles and operate within Illinois law.”

The Bishop, his Priests and the faithful of the Diocese of Peoria, are simply astonished that the politicians of the state of Illinois seem to be unwilling to grant the same kind of religious accommodations that have been granted in the states of New York and Rhode Island regarding their establishment of civil unions. Bishop Jenky is sad to observe that important elements of the political establishment in the state of Illinois are now basically at war with the Catholic community and seem to be destroying their institutions. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria will be reviewing the judge’s written ruling to determine their next steps.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki joined him in saying:

The State of Illinois is actively taking steps to push Catholic Charities of the Dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria and Springfield out of foster care services, which would end a partnership that dates back to the mid-1960s with the creation of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The message from the state of Illinois is simple: Organizations that only place children in accord with their religious beliefs are barred from state contracts – Catholics need not apply.

Catholic Charities has been caring for vulnerable children for more than 100 years, leading to DCFS’ current success rate.

As we consider the next steps in our course of action, we pray for the children and for our dedicated employees who may be so adversely affected by this decision.

I quibble about only one thing: this decision “may” not adversely effect children and those who work for and with Catholic Charities. It will adversely effect them. Parents who foster kids placed with them by Catholic Charities are already signaling that they will be forced to cease doing so:

Casey Teckenbrock, of Herrin, said he and his wife expect any transition to delay the adoption of their foster daughter. But after that is complete, they likely will cease to be foster parents for Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois in the Diocese of Belleville.

“If the state doesn’t respect our morals, then we don’t want to do work for them,” Casey Teckenbrock said. “This will be a disaster for the 2,000 kids in foster care.”

And they aren’t alone:

“[Same-sex adoption is] a very small issue to shut an entire agency down that’s doing so much good in a community,” said Becky Wilhoit, an evangelical Christian who is not Catholic. “We specifically chose Catholic Charities as the agency we wanted to work with knowing they were religious and that they had resources to provide what we needed for our family. We know other agencies in the town can’t provide that for us. It becomes an issue for us to continue fostering.”

In other words, Catholic Charities does not represent simply “the Church” being forced to stop doing adoptions and foster care. It represents good men and women unable to help kids through Catholic Charities. It means kids not being helped by Catholic Charities. And why? David French explains it well:

Same-sex marriage advocates have long minimized its impact on religious liberty, but as this and other examples show, both religious liberty and child welfare are ultimately subordinate to sexual freedom.

In other words, political pressure exerted by gay rights groups and their political sympathizers in pursuit of establishing their right to absolute sexual freedom is squashing the right of the Church and fair-minded people to provide needy kids with a mom and dad — with care fitting the dignity of the babies and young people they serve, in other words.

And what do we do in response to this struggle between absolute sexual “freedom” and religious freedom? Which side are we on?

If we want to be on the side of the Church and supportive of the rights of Catholics and other Christians to serve vulnerable kids in the way our faith outlines there are several things we can concretely do:

1. If you live in Illinois, make a mental note to vote against every House (PDF) and Senate (PDF) member who voted for this bad civil unions bill. The Catholic Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn signed the bill. Vote him out too next time around.

2. If you live in Illinois, call your elected officials in the IL House and Senate and ask them to become a co-sponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 (which could help this situation some).

3. For the rest of us, follow and support the Thomas More Society (which is working on behalf of Catholic Charities in IL) to learn more about the lawsuits currently pending and to discover ways you can help.

4. Help nip these problems in the bud by supporting effective pro-marriage organizations like the National Organization for Marriage (who I work with). This post on the NOM blog explains 4 easy (and free) ways you can help their efforts to protect marriage and religious liberty nationwide.

5. As always, stay informed about current Catholic news and activism opportunities here at CatholicVote.



  • Davide

    Tom if I can be perfectly blunt. This new “civil union” law is nothing more than child trafficking. Absolutely no one including Caesar has the right to deny a child a mother and a father-a child raised by a female and male. This law and other laws like it will result in the full scare persecution of Christians and other people of Good Will. Is also a full scale attack against children. What are Catholics to do? We fight! It is better for us to drop dead at the foot of the Cross than to die in mortal sin. Now this is exactly how I feel. Am I a homophobe? A self-loathing “queer”? This is not for me to judge-a man who judges himself is judged by a fool.

    • Lori C

      You do realize that Catholic Charities in Illinois has been denying children their right to a mother and a father for decades by placing children in single parent homes? That FACT seems to blow a hole in your argument. If Catholic Charities can place children into homes of single parents, why can’t they place them into similar homes with the benefit of having two parents? I look forward to your response and continued discussion on this important topic.

      • davide

        I find it hard to believe Catholic charities have for decades been placing kids in single parent homes. Do you have proof of this? If you say is true, than no that is not right and is morally wrong-but then to justify placing kids with same-sex couples is repugnant. That like saying its okay for me to kick you in the chest as long as I miss your shins. I would think you being a “lawyer” would know this. Better get back to law school-you got screwed.

      • Nancy C

        Lori, Two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • Joe M

        Lori C. As a lawyer, I hope you recognize the difference between “two parents” and “a mother and father”. Obviously, the “benefit” you refer to in regard to “two parents” is completely different in nature to the benefit of having a mother and father. The “benefit” you refer to is akin to the benefit of having two baby-sitters rather than one. — A single parent seeking a straight relationship has the obvious advantage over a gay couple of having the possibility of forming a more complete family structure. Something that is impossible for a gay couple.

  • MichaelL

    Dear Thomas. It looks like it’s time to require people to register in order to post comments. And to cancel the accounts of trolls. I know that no one wants to have to do this, but this is what must be done when confronted with a mob of anarchists. It’s a sad day in America when good and faithful Catholics are attacked simply for defending our Christian faith and traditions. Keep up the great work you do and be “firm in the faith”. (Col 2:7. That was the motto from WYD2011.)

    • Rod


    • davide

      Michael it does sucks we are attacked for our faith but you know what I rather be attacked for what is good and pure than be the oppressor of evil and hatred. You think we got it bad, look at the fools who attack us-they ain’t got squat. It is us who should pity them. Besides they are mildly entertaining 😉 be well friend-God’s love

      • Tash

        Alternatively, they could just stop allowing comments. It’s much easier to keep everyone in line if you don’t allow them the opportunity to discuss these issues. It’s also much easier to push your propaganda.

        • Joe M

          Tash. It sounds like you are familiar with propaganda and not allowing people to discuss issues (something nobody has proposed here but you). — Perhaps you can tell me whether or not there is a campaign (George Soros funded perhaps) to post comments and click dislikes on this site? The selection of post subjects, mostly first page comments, etc. that get workmanlike attention from the same commenters seems suspicious. But, maybe I don’t know much about how propaganda works. Help me out.

    • Michael

      I totally agree with you… All the negatives are probably not Catholics but people who like to hurt us. Kudos to you!! I think it is time to take them off!!!

      • Francis

        My personal feeling is that the “like/dislike” feature on this blog site is really useless and should be removed. It does nothing to enhance communication or further discussion on any topic, and it only detracts from the site. Plus, it is either really easy to hack into so that people can skew the figures, or some people are sitting in a computer lab with many opportunities to click “like/dislike” from various computers. Either way, it is difficult to believe that anyone would have such a dull life that they would devote time and energy to such a pursuit.

  • Lori C

    I feel that this issue is being grossly misrepresented. As a lawyer I have followed this case. The court documents show that Catholic Charities was doing grave damage to children and depriving them of a mother or a father by placing them in single parent households. If Catholic Charities could do this, what logical reason is there to refuse to place children in homes where there may be two fathers or two mothers? Second, Catholic Charities was refusing to serve gay couples with a claim that they could seek service from another adoption/foster care provider. This simply isn’t true. In many communities Catholic Charities was the only provider and this would have forced potential parents to travel hundreds of miles. Additionally, referring gay clients to another business would have the same result – a child placed in the home of a gay or lesbian couple. If Catholic Charities really had the best interest of the child at heart, they would want to make sire such a placement was the best fit possible, not simply pawn the adoption of to any adoption agency that supports gay couples adopting. It seems to me, that this issue is being intentionally misrepresented.

    • davide

      @ lori no one cares if you are a “lawyer”. Same-sex couples have no authority to deny a child the basic human and fundamental right to be raised by a mother and father. With homosexual advocacy it is always children second-every time! Children are not tomato plants or puppies. No! This is unacceptable. Us Catholics will fight this until none of us are left standing. Children deserve our love and protection, not some kind of social experiment-that goes back to the times of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Put that in your legal brief and smoke it. PS let me tell you about my experience with Tom Peters and other writers of Catholic Vote.Org. They are probably the most honest bloggers I have ever visited. Their honestly is so true it’s painfully honest-sometimes it hurts, no? Laters

    • Joe M

      Lori C. A) If the “grave harm” of adopting to a single parent is depriving a child of a “mother or father”, how is adopting to a gay couple not depriving a child of a “mother or father”? B) If it is false that couples didn’t have an alternative option to Catholic Charities without “traveling hundreds of miles”, how does not renewing Catholic Charities contract resolve that problem? C) Yes. Referring gay couples to other organizations still results in a gay adoption. Only, it doesn’t ask people to violate their religious principles. What is your specific problem with that? D) Catholic Charities does not believe that adopting children to gay couples is desirable for any child. They are better off waiting to be adopted by a mother and father or at least a mother or father seeking a straight partner. How is that not consistent with having the childs best interest at heart? E) It seems to me that this is not being misrepresented at all. Only that you have not really scrutinized your own positions in detail.

    • Victoria Dreksler

      Why are you running your mouth against the moral values of the Church? The Bible doesn’t say obey your two mothers or your two fathers. It says obey your mother and father.

      • Tash

        Actually, the correct translation is obey your parents.

        • Tom Crowe

          Pop quiz, Tash: what does it take for a child to come into the world? A) Two sperm cells; B) Two egg cells; C) A sperm and an egg; D) I refuse to answer this intolerant and hateful question. ——— Assuming you answered correctly, then even if the correct translation is “parents,” then “father and mother” is perfectly acceptable since IVF and gay adoption were not even the faintest consideration of those who received the Law. The same would hold true today. “Parents,” with regard to the Law, *cannot* mean Susie has two daddies. Cheers.

        • Ryan Haber

          In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes:
          “τιμα τον πατερα σου και την μητερα ητις εστιν εντολη πρωτη εν επαγγελια” (Eph 6:2). That’s from the Byzantine/Majority text, ed. 2000. You can see “τιμα” which means “honor” or “fear”. Also clearly distinguished are “πατερα” (father) and “πατερα” (mother).

          The Hebrew text of the Decalog states the Fifth Commandment as,
          כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ

          “Kabed”, the first word, on the right, means “honor” or “treat with gravity/glory/honor”.
          The second word, “eth-avikhah” means “your father” and
          the third word, “ve’eth-immikhah” means “and your mother.” Again, two distinct words.

          I read Greek and Hebrew pretty comfortably, owing to a graduate program I was in. So I’m not sure where you get your “correct translation” Tash, except maybe out of a gender neutralized “translation,” but it’s not how I read the text.

          Can you read the original texts, or are you correcting translations out of some other font of knowledge?

          • Ryan Haber

            Dis. Apparently Greek and Hebrew fonts don’t show up here. Oh well. Who knew?

    • Bob S

      @Lori: “In many communities Catholic Charities was the only provider and this would have forced potential parents to travel hundreds of miles.”

      So, how does not renewing the state contract with Catholic Charities help the children and hopeful families? This potential state act will result in harm by making the necessary link ups and visits much more difficult. Using your own words, Catholic Charities is often the only source of help (provider) in many communities – and now that resource will be gone. This is unwise and counterproductive – but maybe that is what the state seeks: rigid stupidity.

  • Jeremy

    I think there’s a difference between the state forcing Catholic Charities out of the adoption business – which isn’t happening – and the state declining to renew its contract with Catholic Charities – which is what’s happening. Frankly, I think it only makes sense for the state not to renew the contracts. The state of Illinois has certain anti-discrimination statutes, and if Catholic Charities does not abide by them, why should they have a contract with the state? Catholic Charities is free to decline to place children with same-sex couples, but not on the state’s dime. Why should the state pay an agency that doesn’t follow state laws?

    • Noel

      Conversely, the Catholic Church SHOULD be allowed to provide foster care homes to different-sex partners, via the because of the religious freedom, and freedom of expression rights. The rights work both ways. Yes, on the state’s dime, since the state is recognizing same-sex marriages as viable parents, it must recognize different sex marriages through Catholic Charities, an organization known for it’s ethics and principles along with its great services. It is clear discrimination for the state to accept one without the other. Can’t have anti discrimination laws work one way.

      • Jeremy

        But the state isn’t declining to renew (or perhaps planning to decline to renew) Catholic Charities’ contract because it places children with opposite-sex couples; that would be absurd. The state is declining to renew because Catholic Charities has chosen not to place children with any same-sex couples, which is contrary to the state’s anti-discrimination law. If Catholic Charities was willing to place children with both same- and opposite-sex parents, I’m sure the state of Illinois would be happy to give it a contract.

  • Whitney

    Amazing and disgusting. Obama and his cadre of liberal Democrats want all babies to be aborted – and those that survive should be adopted by gay “parents.” And then they accuse the Catholic Church of discrimination when we refuse to play by their atheist anti-Catholic rules? Discrimination is perfectly acceptable when it follows God’s edicts. And look at who will ultimately suffer because of this – the children. Keep that in mind, folks. Children are suffering and liberal Democrats are directly responsible.

  • Leila@LittleCatholicBubble

    I am glad to see that you wrote about this. It is so disturbing, and just today on my blog I wrote a strongly worded warning on the same subject, addressed to those Catholics who think they can let gay “marriage” slide for reasons of “compassion. They are dead wrong.



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