(CNS) -- Three bishops, in a joint letter to the measure's sponsor, voiced their support
of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would permit social service
agencies to refuse on religious grounds to provide adoption or foster services for households headed by same-sex couples.
The bishops, who chair three U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committees,
called it a "needed bill."
Inclusion Act protects the freedom of all child welfare providers by ensuring
they will not be discriminated against by the government because of their
religious beliefs or moral convictions," said the April 10 letter, signed
by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad
Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln,
Nebraska, chair of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Defense and Promotion of
Marriage; and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of their
Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
act prevents the federal government and states that receive federal funds for
child welfare services from excluding child welfare providers who believe that
children deserve to be placed with a married mother and father," the three
bishops said in the letter to Rep Mike Kelly, R-Pennsylvania.
Inclusion Act is needed because child welfare service providers are being
subjected to discrimination because of their sincerely held religious beliefs
and moral convictions," said a USCCB fact sheet on the bill.
example, certain religiously affiliated charities in Massachusetts, Illinois,
California and the District of Columbia have had to stop providing adoption and
foster care services because of requirements to place children in households
headed by two persons of the same sex," it said. "In Illinois alone,
more than 3,000 children in foster care -- more than 20 percent of the state's
total -- were displaced from religiously affiliated organizations."
fact sheet added, "Women and men who want to place their children for
adoption should be free to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies,
including those that share the parents' religious beliefs and moral
convictions. The Inclusion Act recognizes and respects this parental choice."
"The freedom to serve in accord with
one's religious beliefs and moral convictions is foundational to religious
freedom in our nation," the three bishops said. "Our first and most
cherished freedom, religious liberty, is to be enjoyed by all Americans,
including child welfare providers who serve the needs of children."