As the U.S. bishops, meeting in Baltimore in mid-November (See story), warned about growing threats to religious liberty, a scenario was playing out in Illinois that some would argue makes a strong case for their alarm.
The Belleville diocese announced Nov. 10 that Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois was separating from the diocese in order to continue to provide foster care and other social services in the poorest corner of that state. The separation was necessary, said a statement posted on the diocesan website, because the agency was no longer able to carry out its mission under the recently enacted Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which requires state-funded adoption agencies to place adoptive children with same-sex couples.
The move signaled the end of decades of Catholic involvement in adoption services in Illinois. Previously, three other dioceses had ended similar programs because of the new law. In the past, the church referred unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to other agencies.