Philadelphia Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced a resolution March 15 authorizing the city’s Public Health and Human Services to investigate the city’s partnership with organizations that do not place foster children with LGBTQ people, calling it discriminatory.
Due to the resolution, the city’s Department of Human Services (DHS) ceased new intakes of foster care children with Catholic Social Services and with another faith-based agency, Bethany Christian Services. Earlier this month city officials issued a public service announcement expressing the city’s urgent need for 300 foster families.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s chief communications officer, Kenneth Gavin, told CNA that Catholic Social Services hopes the foster care partnership with the city will resume.
“Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recognizes the vital importance of the foster care program in our city and is proud to provide safe and nurturing foster environments to young people in need,” said Gavin. “We hope to continue our productive relationship with the City of Philadelphia to serve those among us in need.
“CSS is, at its core, an institution founded on faith-based principles. The Catholic Church does not endorse same-sex unions based upon deeply held religious beliefs and principles. As such, CSS would not be able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union,” Gavin said.
Catholic Social Services provides foster care services to any young person in need of assistance regardless of background and without making inquiry as to their sexual identity or orientation, according to Gavin. “That’s important to note as it is also a deeply held religious belief for us to provide care for all those in need with dignity, charity and respect,” he said.
“Given its affiliation with the Archdiocese, CSS cannot provide services in any manner or setting that would violate its institutional integrity, core values and Catholic beliefs,” Gavin said. “That fact is a well-established and long-known one in our relationship with DHS.”
In a CSS annual report released in 2016, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia remarked that “I’ve been blessed on numerous occasions to witness firsthand how Catholic Social Services (CSS) promotes the dignity of the persons they serve, particularly the weak and vulnerable.
“The long history of CSS foster care and adoption services is replete with stories of their paving the way for new parents to open the doors of their hearts to children,” the archbishop said.
Catholic Social Services will continue to care for the 241 children that it has currently placed in foster arrangements through referrals from the city.