Conflict with state's same-sex laws leads Catholic Charities to end foster, adoption services
New York State requires same-sex couple have the same right as heterosexual couples to adopt children. Catholic doctrine defines marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. Citing the irreconcilable difference, Catholic Charities has decided to end its long-running foster care and adoption services.
The announcement was made late Thursday. Sister Mary McCarrick, the Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities in Buffalo, called it an emotionally tough decision but one that was made to remain in compliance with church teachings.
"Reviewed at the meeting were the actual Church documents that say that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that a child is best served by living in a family with a husband and a wife," said Sister McCarrick.
Currently, 36 children are in foster care through Catholic Charities. Sister McCarrick explained that they will remain in their current foster homes while the organization works with other local agencies to take over their respective cases.
When asked how often same-sex couples have contacted Catholic Charities to inqure about foster care, she replied that to her knowledge it has only happened once. Sister McCarrick would not suggest whether there was any motive to "set up" Catholic Charities, given past conflicts between same-sex couples and other institutions that would not provide service due to religious reasons.
And how are members of the Catholic congregation taking this decision?
"I've been on the phone with different people all morning," she replied. "People have very strong opinions in this, pro and con."
Public critics of the move include Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who included words from Pope Francis in his statement: "What disappoints me greatly about this decision is it contravenes past teachings from Pope Francis regarding how Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning individuals should be welcomed by the Church. In his 2016 book 'The Name of God is Mercy,' Pope Francis offered this explanation about his famous 'Who am I to judge?' statement where he responded to a question about gay priests: 'On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person? I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.'"
The Diocese of Buffalo, in its own written statement on Catholic Charities' decision, also used words from Pope Francis: "In regard to the issue of adoption, we defer to the words of Pope Francis in his exortation Amoris Laetitia, ‘The Church does not support the adoption of children by same sex couples since homosexual unions are contrary to the divine plan.’”