Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two lawmakers July 30 introduced a measure they say is needed to protect faith-based agencies that provide adoption and foster care services from discrimination based on their religious beliefs.

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pennsylvania, introduced companion bills titled the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014.

"This bill is about fairness and inclusion. It is about ensuring that everyone who wants to help provide foster or adoptive care to children is able to have a seat at the table," Kelly said in a statement.

"Faith-based charities and organizations do an amazing job of administering adoption, foster care and a host of other services," said Enzi. "Limiting their work because someone might disagree with what they believe only ends up hurting the families they could be bringing together."

The chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said July 31 they support the measure: San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

In separate letters to Kelly and Enzi, the three archbishops said the nation's "first and most cherished freedom, religious liberty, is to be enjoyed by all Americans, including child welfare providers who serve the needs of our most vulnerable -- children."

They emphasized the importance of parental choice in choosing adoption and foster care services.

"Women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents' religious beliefs and moral convictions," the prelates said.

As the Enzi-Kelly bill notes, most religious organizations cannot provide certain child welfare services without receiving a license and funds from the government, and most states provide government-funded child welfare services through various religious, charitable and private organizations.

The text of the bill does not specify what laws might conflict with the religious tenets of the service providers.

However, in some states faith-based agencies have been forced to drop out of the adoption business because they could not get an exemption from regulations requiring agencies contracting with the state not to discriminate against same-sex couples who seek to adopt children.

Congress began a five-week summer break Aug. 1 and it was uncertain when the bill would move forward.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.