Rockford Diocese ending adoption services in response to civil unions

By Jeff Engelhardt
Updated 6/3/2011 5:23 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- The beginning of civil unions will mean the end for publicly funded adoption services operated by the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.

The Diocese of Rockford will discontinue adoption services which included 350 foster family and adoption cases with a state budget of $7.5 million. It will also lay off 58 case workers.

The diocese covers 11 counties in northern Illinois, including McHenry and Kane counties.

The move came because the state legislature did not approve specific laws that would allow those agencies to refer same-sex and unmarried couples to nonreligious adoption agencies, Rockford Diocese officials said.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago will continue to operate their private adoption services, a spokesman said. Other dioceses around the state, including Joliet, are reviewing their options before deciding whether to end their publicly funded adoption services.

Officials from the Rockford Diocese said they did not want to abandon their values.

"We simply cannot compromise the spirit that motivates us to deliver quality, professional services to families by letting our state define our religious teachings," said Penny Wiegert, diocesan director of communications.