Philadelphia Officially Severs Ties With Catholic Foster Care Agency Over LGBTQ Parents

Following a report that Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services agency (CSS) does not place foster children in the care of same-sex couples, that city’s Department of Human Services (DHS) decided that it will not sponsor future placements of children through CSS, which receives funds from the city.

A few weeks ago, DHS had temporarily suspended their connection with CSS while they examined the situation.  The CSS policy, which bars LGBTQ people from participating in the foster system, violates the city’s contract policy and the 1963 Fair Practices Ordinance, both of which ban discrimination based on sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This controversy comes at a time when Philadelphia is attempting to recruit at least 300 families to foster children–the most urgent need the city has seen in a decade.

Heather Keafer quoted Heather Keafer, a DHS spokesperson, who said that the 233 children already placed by CSS and another faith-based organization will remain with their foster families, but that no new cases will be assigned to the agencies.

Kenneth Gavin

Kenneth Gavin, chief communications officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has expressed interest in rebuilding the church’s partnership with the city–but said the archdiocese will not do soby abandoning what it says is a faith principle. Gavin maintains that CSS is an “institution founded on faith based principles… As such, CSS would not be able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union.”

This is not a new battleground; similar prohibitions on Catholic charities in Boston, Illinois, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. have existed as early as 2006. Such cities’ Catholic charities, in refusing to comply with an evolving definition of marriage, have lost their licenses or funding, causing some to shut down.

Refusal to comply with government standards does not necessarily happen at the charity level. In the case of Boston’s Catholic Charities, the members of the board unanimously opposed the bishop’s request to exclude same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. Seven board members resigned when the Archbishop sought exemption from the law. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has fought hard for religious exemptions, stating: “Religious liberty is more than freedom of worship; it includes our ability to make our contribution to the common good of all Americans without having to compromise our faith”.

Last year, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017 was introduced to both the Senate and the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would prohibit local governments that receive federal funding for child welfare services from “discriminating against” service providers that deny certain services based on “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions”. Though the bill has not moved in Congress, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that similar state legislation exists in places such as Michigan that protect agencies from working with LGBT people.

–Julia Basnage, New Ways Ministry, April 22, 2018

6 replies
  1. Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC
    Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC says:

    The views expressed by Vaticanite Bishops of the USCCB are contrary to those held by Catholics of many different types, including Episcopalian, Utrechtian Old Catholics, and many Independent Catholics who have their own theologians and Bishops. They are also contrary to the views and beliefs of many Catholic members of the various Vaticanite denominations (Rites).

    The opinions of the USCCB are not binding on Catholics even within the Vaticanite Family and are even less so to the millions of “Other Catholics” in the world, especially when those opinions are treasonous assertions of hate and disrespect for American laws.

    Every Catholic, in or out of the Vatican has the right to Examination of Conscience and to act on Examination when any clergy proposes a sinful action. Within the Vaticanite fold, as Rev. Andrew Greeley stated, those Catholics also have the ballot of the checkbook to express to their bishops disagreement with what does or does not “compromise our faith”.

    I am an Independent Old Catholic and an American taxpayer. I absolutely believe in the separation of Church and State as enshrined in our Constitution, and welcome the decision by Philidelphia and other cities and states.

    It is high time that the foreign nation, Vatican City, learn that using its national church (little “c” intentional) to siphon millions of US taxpayers dollars while expecting to be exempt from taxes in the name of an “ability to make our contribution to the common good of all Americans” is as wrong as indoctrinating foster children against the beliefs of the birth families or discriminating against foster parents.

    Making a “contribution to the common good of all Americans” is one of the civic requirements of ALL religious or other common bond groups in America to have the right to operate corporate entities, own property, employ non-members, and engage in any business aside from the religious or group services for the flock.

    If Sunday Assembly can follow US laws while making a “contribution to the common good of all Americans”, so can Vatican City and its National Church.

  2. Richard Boyle, OSM
    Richard Boyle, OSM says:

    Yes, let’s make sure that innocent and needy children are sacrificed on the altar of “religious freedom,” exactly the behavior, I imagine, Our Lord would condemn outright. Thank-you, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia…I lay this moral travesty right at your feet.

  3. Don E Siegal
    Don E Siegal says:

    Philadelphia Officially Severs Ties with Catholic Foster Care Agency

    Ultimately how these complex situations are resolved between state and faith based organizations is going to depend in great degree on how SCOTUS rules in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colo CR Comm. That ruling is expected sometime in June.

  4. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    This happened in Illinois a few years ago. Catholic bishops demanded the right to be able to refuse placing children with lesbian or gay couples, while continuing to take money from the state to provide the services. They eventually gave up when the state refused to change their non-discrimination policies, and then blamed the state for violating their “religious liberties.” Catholic agencies closed, and employees lost their jobs. But other agencies, including religious agencies, hired the laid-off Catholic agency employees and expanded their services to take care of the children the Catholic agencies refused to serve.

    It has become clear in recent years that secular governments are sometimes more concerned for the welfare of children and more inclusive than Catholic entities. While the rest of the world passes by, Catholic entities are often left behind in the dust of uninformed prejudice. Not a good place for a religion that purports to be following the example of Jesus to be.

  5. Roger
    Roger says:

    Chaput is dragging the church even farther back into the dark ages. Like most of his ilk, silent during the clergy abuse crisis. Hypocritical. Modern day Pharisees.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] After a report broke about discrimination against LGBTQ Foster Parents, the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia had to make a decision. Fortunately for at-risk families, they made the right one. On April 22, 2018, Julia Basnage at New Ways Ministry wrote Philadelphia Officially Severs Ties With Catholic Foster Care Agency Over LGBTQ Parents. […]

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