Illinois Can End Adoption Pact With Catholic Church

An Illinois court has ruled that Catholic Charities has no “recognized legal right” to a state contract and that government officials may stop using the religiously affiliated group for adoption and foster-care services.

The legal flap occurred after church officials said they would not comply with a new Illinois law that recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples. The church said placing children with unmarried couples would violate its religious beliefs – a move that effectively bars same-sex couples from adopting or serving as foster parents.

In response, state officials said they would terminate contracts – totaling $30 million – with church-run agencies in four Illinois dioceses. The Thomas More Society, a conservative Catholic legal organization, filed suit. In court, the group argued that the Catholic Charities affiliates have a “property interest” in the work and that the agencies should be able to maintain their religious tenets while doing it.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled against the church on Aug. 18.

“Plaintiffs are not required by the state to perform these useful and beneficial services,” Schmidt wrote. He added, “No citizen has a recognized legal right to a contract with the government.”

Schmidt also said the church had failed to show a “recognized property right” entitling the dioceses to maintain the contracts.

In a media statement, Thomas More Society attorneys said they “are reviewing the ruling and considering next actions.” (Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Springfield v. State of Illinois)