Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sacrificing Children for Catholic Identity

From the National Catholic Reporter, an interesting take from the former director of Catholic Charities' San Francisco office:
For almost 10 years as the executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, I was directly involved in efforts to manage the tension between what our church teaches in the area of sexuality, and how we carried out our mission to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.

We dealt with many challenges, but the most complex, significant and painful issue was same-sex adoption.

Catholic Charities provides a broad range of services to all in need regardless of their faith. Following the 1906 earthquake, finding adoptive homes for orphans was our first program.

For the last 40 years the focus of the Catholic Charities adoption program had been finding suitable placements for foster care children. In recent years we averaged 25 adoptions per year. Few same-sex couples applied, but when they did, we were pleased to work with them if they met the criteria.

We knew that of the 80,000 children in the California foster care system, half were waiting to be adopted. We also knew that the largest cohort of potential adoptive parents for these children were committed same-sex couples who wanted to create family. In the last five years of the program we had placed 136 children, 5 of them in the homes of gay and lesbian couples.
He describes how that policy of working with gay and lesbian couples changed over the years, and then concludes as follows:
As the recession hit, the Catholic Charities budget deficit forced some painful choices. I retired at the end of 2008, the collaboration with Family Builders ended in 2009, and based on a poorly conceived, disrespectful and harshly written Roman policy, San Francisco Catholic Charities joined Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington and other dioceses abandoning a hundred-year tradition and thousands of needy children.

In a speech at the National Catholic Social Workers Conference, Archbishop Charles Chaput pushed the party line on Catholic identity, urging that Catholic social services must be "explicitly Catholic." I believe Catholic Charities manifests its Catholicism far better by using Mathew 25 as a guide rather than a destructive, irresponsible and un-Christ like Vatican promulgation.


Karen said...

Im a bit confused. Are you saying in this article that they are refusing to help gays and lesbians adopt now or that they are only helping Catholics adopt now? Im not Catholic, but I think they have a right to decide if they are going to help only those who are Catholic. IMO, most churches help only those who are within the "church", unless they're volunteering time or have a single cause for a selected group of needy families during holidays. The Catholic church seems to be the MOST willing to help a vast majority of people who are neither Catholic nor religious. One can be Atheist and still get help from Catholic Charities, so I do not find their decision to help only Catholics with adoption all that offensive. People do have other choices.

Anonymous said...

@Karen, I think the point of this article is that once again Christian churches are more focused on prejudice than doing the right thing. Even if they believe that the Bible doesn't support homosexuality, they're making the choice to worry more about the "Christian-ness" of gay and lesbian families than they are about getting children out of foster care. Yes, they have a right to make this decision. But is it the best decision?

Karen said...

I read the article to say that they are only going to help Catholics through adoption, not necessarily just remove gays and lesbians. Did I read that wrong?

Lucille said...

Why is this ultimately the fault of the Catholic Church, and not governmental policies that make these agencies choose between implementing different aspects of Christian teaching?

You could just as well say that the state (CA, MA, etc.) made the determination that anti-discrimination laws was a higher priority than finding homes for children.

Karen said...

Lucille-Again, I am not Catholic, so I dont know for sure...But, isnt Catholic Charities a private organization? And arent the donations to any private church organization mostly made up of funds from people who attend that church?
If these are statements are true, and if the money comes from other Catholics, perhaps that is why the church is deciding to help only Catholics adopt. As I stated before, the Catholic church is far more giving than any other church, to others who are not catholic or religious at all. I dont see the point in singling them out with negative press on this issue of help. Why not select all the other religions and see how far you get with ANY help to groups of others (on a continual basis), who are not within that church.

malinda said...

Catholic Charities has always worked with people of all faiths, not just Catholics. They just don't let gays and lesbians adopt, regardless of whether they are Catholic or not.

And Catholic Charities, like many private and church-affiliated adoption agencies receive state funds to help place children in adoption. So the problem arises when they still want to receive state funds, but violate a state's non-discrimination policy.

Catholic Charities in Illinois is currently suing to continue receiving state funds and to be allowed to continue to discriminate.

And a non-discrimination policy that expands the pool of eligible adoptive parents to include gays and lesbians isn't to blame for children not being adopted -- how does limiting the pool of adoptive parents decrease their chances of being adopted?! It doesn't.

And in m opinion, as a Catholic, Catholic Charities should get out of the adoption business if they aren't willing to put the best interest of children ahead of Catholic doctrine.

Karen said...

Thanks for the clarification about public funds, I had no idea, and I appreciate knowing. However, I am still perplexed about helping gays vs helping only Catholics adopt.
"...urging that Catholic social services must be "explicitly Catholic." I believe Catholic Charities manifests its Catholicism far better by using Mathew 25 as a guide rather than a destructive, irresponsible and un-Christ like Vatican promulgation."

To me, this statement means that they will only help Catholics. What am I missing?

However, I have a friend who happens to be gay and Catholic, and even though he is very much "out" in our community, Im fairly certain he does not admit to being gay to the church. So, perhaps that is the problem... One cannot be openly gay to the church and Catholic, therefore, the church chooses that way not to help gays adopt. But I think this article also shows they are also choosing not to help non-Catholics.

It all makes more sense now. Thanks. And yes, I agree, if they are getting public funding, they shouldn't be able to be selective like that, gay or non-Catholic, alike.

Lucille said...

To me, this statement means that they will only help Catholics. What am I missing?

What does "they will only help Catholics" mean? Does this mean they refuse to take any non-Catholic children on their caseloads? Does "helping" mean finding homes for children or finding children for homes? If the former, it's hard to say how declining to accept gay and lesbian PAPs means "not helping people," since they are a small segment of the population, and as the writer of the column notes, there aren't many gays and lesbians who apply to adopt via their organization.

As for the question of taking public funds ... well, that goes hand in hand with working with foster children. Of course, if they wanted to focus on private infant adoption, they could.

I don't think that Catholic Charities refuses to help non-Catholics; but in adoption, it should be understood, that the person who is (at least in theory) being helped is the child in need of a home. Adoptive parents (as a class) are not in need of charitable assistance.

As far as the best interest of children: why is it harmful to children (harm, in this case, meaning not finding a suitable placement for a child available for adoption) to decline to approve gays and lesbians as adoptive parents? How many children, in reality, would be denied placement by such a policy? I suspect it wouldn't be very many, if any.

Anonymous said...


Explicity catholic - is following the doctrines of the Catholic church which denounces homosexuality there therefore - you cannot adopt if you are gay or lesbian...NOT only allowing Catholics to adopt.

But they want to take state/federal funds AND descriminate against a group of people based solely on their sexual orientation which is ILLEGAL to do if you take state/federal funds...kind of like having your cake and eating it too concept.

Never believe it is truly altruistic - check out the guidestar for the actual revenues and organization can make from foster care.

Either they agree to abide by anti-discrimination laws or they do it without state/federal funds.

Decreasing the pool of PAPs to adopt children IN FOSTER CARE because they are gay or lesbian is harming some of the kids ability to find permanent homes.

There are other religious and non-reglious groups out there to take CC place. It happened in Illinois without any delay.

Lucille said...

Decreasing the pool of PAPs to adopt children IN FOSTER CARE because they are gay or lesbian is harming some of the kids ability to find permanent homes.

You're asserting that is true, but you aren't bothering to prove it. Let's see the numbers: how long, on average, does it take for CC to place children on their caseload in homes?

Refusing to approve an unemployed person on public assistance as an adoptive parent is also something that reduces the pool of PAPs, but that doesn't mean adoption agencies should have to allow people without financial resources to adopt.

Never believe it is truly altruistic

Maybe, maybe not. Chances are, it's a mix. OK, how much do they make from working with foster children? Is it more or less than they would make via private adoptions?

Lucille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucille said...

(I deleted the above comment to correct a typo.)

P.S. No, I'm not saying that being gay or lesbian is the same as being unemployed; I'm just using an example of a different criterion that they might use to reject an application to adopt.

Jill C said...


How many children, in reality, would be denied placement by such a policy? I suspect it wouldn't be very many, if any.

How do you know?

You suspect but don't really have evidence to support this statement either. Just using the column writer's word for it? If it would help one child that's not good enough?

Now I'm confused. So it's okay to discriminate if it's only against a few potential adoptive parents?

Aren't Catholics against divorce, contraception and lot's o' other things but don't see them making a big deal to stop these folks (as a population)from adopting?

Discrimination is wrong - tax dollars shouldn't be used to support it.

It's weird that it's okay to use religious exemptions to discriminate against gays. Especially when scripture has been used in the past to support slavery and to discriminate against interracial marriage.

Anonymous said...


Seeing as you asked so sweetly...

Census Snapshot:
California Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Population

Gates, Gary J, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law;

Ramos, Christopher, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law
Publication Date:

"3.2% of the adult population in CA identifies as gay or lesbian. 9 out of 1,000 households compared to national 7 out of 1,000."

To really understand the sheer numbers of GBL who wish to adopt please read the following indepth report.

Still think those kids are better off left in Foster care rather than finding permanent homes?

You can do your own research on the profits made from the organizations by district in Ca using Guidestar - I am sure you understand balance sheets.

Lucille said...

A nice long comment, and not a single piece of data on CC and whether they actually delay/deny placements for children, only speculation that it might theoretically be so.

So let me repeat my question: does CC take longer, on average to find homes for children than other agencies?

Anonymous said...


Are you deliberately trying to be dense to provoke some type of angry discussion?


It really is a simple concept. Works much the same in any business methodology and not to be crass but...consumer demand is the ultimate business model vs trying to find consumers who want the product...

Lucille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucille said...

There are lots of ways you can enlarge the pool of PAPs. For example, they can step up efforts to find homes for children out of state or internationally. But dropping any particular criterion for adoptive parents isn't automatically going to ensure more successful placements in practice. It doesn't mean an agency has to pursue every possibility.

The PDF you linked to stated that self-identified gays and lesbians are less than 4% of the California population; that won't enlarge the pool by a huge amount.

I'm sorry you think I'm "trying to be dense," but you have not demonstrated that CC is any less successful at finding children homes than other agencies. You are talking about how they can theoretically place more children if they accept adoption application from gays and lesbians. However, I am asking you whether their actual rate of placement demonstrates that they are failing to find homes for children at a larger rate than other agencies.

Anonymous said...

Lucille - how about you proving me wrong? I am sure you can use Google too.

Have to love the argument about sending the kids to other does that work in face of the argument that internationally adopted kids have it better despite the overwhelming loss of everything because they have come to the best country on earth?

And also note some US citizens are being adopted abroad which makes the US in my understanding the only non-relative SENDING and RECEIVING Hague Country...would you want your relatives basically stripped of their citizenship?

Sending kids to other countries seems kind of cruel don't you think? Cuz after all the USA is THE #1 country (well at least it was last week).

And sending the kids out of state - completely away from any close relatives they may be able to stay in contact with? Great idea, lose all contact with everything they know including kin because you don't want them adopted by GLB families?

Do you really think either choice is better (as in the best interests of the child - not your religous views) than a GLB family in their home state?

At the end of the day - you either play by the rules or you pack your toys up and go home. CC has that choice and something we all learned that in kindergarten.

There is a reason why religions cannot mandate laws that goes back 200+ years - the reason original settlers here - to escape from countries where religions mandated the laws. Reglion has no place in Politics - that's why there is a separation of church and state.

Anonymous said...


Separation eh? Hence why God is mentioned in our nations's pledge.


As to the U.S. being a "sender nation" ~ well, the pros and cons of that are all in the eye of the beholder; or do you speak for everyone now?

I gave up a black infant and know he is thriving overseas with a biracial couple. Where he lives he won't face the stigma of being "black", something very tangible and oft times challenging in this country. Where he lives, his race is accepted and simply part of who he is - not a hurdle to overcome.

If we are to believe you, then myself and other women who gave their children up, both domestically or overseas, should never have made that or been allowed to make that decision.

Funny how it always comes back to someone else making the decsion for us either way. Or presuming to do so. :(

Anonymous said...


Actually I was referring to 200+ years ago and what you are referencing happened fairly recently. "Under God" was added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 and "In God We Trust" became the national motto signed into law in 1956 by President Eisenhower.

And obviously I speak for myself - hence my user name. I was also posing a question to Lucille on how do you reconcile the obvious paradox of sending and recieving when you justify IA because the USA is better...

And just where did I say adoption should never happen? I thought we were talking about FOSTER CARE adoptions of all those thousands of kids who are legally free and have no parents.

Obviously I missed part of the conversation.