Editorial: Kids shouldn’t suffer for politics
Kids need homes.
A kid doesn’t necessarily need a smartphone or a new game system or a puppy, though those might all be on a wish list. But there are basics, like a roof and a door and clothes and food that are non-negotiable. There are things like love and support that are critical but hard to quantify.
All of that goes together in one simple item. Kids need homes.
And so it is tragic that three organizations are out of the business of finding homes for kids who need them. The Catholic Charities agencies of Greensburg, along with Erie and Philadelphia, say they have been forced to close adoption and foster care services due to a state anti-discrimination policy. The agencies don’t work with same-sex couples and the new policy specifically notes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected.
The dioceses sought religious exemption and were denied. They say the policy is hostile to faith-based groups.
The state stopped making referrals to the three agencies on July 1, 2018. That was after they did not sign the contracts with the new policy that follow a 2016 executive order from Gov. Tom Wolf. Instead, they substituted modified contracts that the state rejected. Another 78 agencies — 21 faith-based — did sign the contracts.
We should not demand that churches change their religious beliefs. They aren’t wrong to argue that they shouldn’t have to bend when they have a First Amendment right not to do so.
But other Catholic providers did sign, including Catholic Charities in Harrisburg. They are finding a way to thread the needle of their faith while stitching together new families. Why can’t that happen for families served by the Greensburg diocese in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties?
Maybe it all points to an outdated model from a time before state agencies protected children. Maybe it is unfair to everyone including the churches to expect them to do the Lord’s work by the state’s rules.
But there has to be a way to keep an agency that has helped build 167 families in the state and 158 outside it in just four years, and countless before that.
The rights of adopting parents can’t be compromised and the rights of the church can’t be compromised. Regardless of who is adopting and who is — or isn’t — facilitating, there remains one reality that has to be prioritized.
Kids need homes. So whether it’s the state or the church or another agency that steps forward, the kids can’t get lost in the politics.