Catholic Charities of Buffalo is in the process of phasing out its current foster care and adoption services under a contract with the Erie County Department of Social Services. According to Catholic Charities, the contract is set to expire in March of 2019.
In a press release issued Thursday, Catholic Charities said, "it cannot simultaneously comply with state regulations and conform to the teaching of the Catholic Church on the nature of marriage Catholic Charities will discontinue foster care and adoption services." The statement goes on to specifically reference its inability to uphold the requirement allowing same-sex couples to adopt or foster children while upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church.
"It is with deep sadness we acknowledge that the legacy of the high quality, exceptional services which our staff provides to children and families through foster care and adoption will be lost," said Dennis C. Walczyk, Catholic Charities Chief Executive Officer. "We are working with the state OCFS and Erie County DSS to support a smooth transition for children in foster care and foster parents, as well as those who have submitted applications to provide foster care or seek adoption."
According to the charity, the program currently includes 55 certified foster homes, with 34 children in care.
The spokesperson for Erie County provided this statement:
"The Erie County Social Services Department is aware of the decision reached by Catholic Charities and will work with them to make the transition process as smooth as possible as they phase out foster care and adoption services. Catholic Charities is a strong community partner and EC Social Services will continue to work with them in providing services wherever possible."
Amanda Kelkenberg, CEO of Child Care Resource Network, issued this statement:
"With respect to community partner agencies, we have no comment on individual business decisions. As always we continue to advocate for all children to grow up in the safest, most loving and most nurturing environment possible, allowing them to reach their full potential."
On Friday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called on Bishop Malone to reverse the decision saying, "Follow the lead of Pope Francis by not defining a person by their sexual orientation but by the love and compassion they contain in their heart for others. If a loving LGBTQ couple is willing to open up their home to a child and offer that child the love the child so desperately deserves, who are we to judge?"
The Buffalo Catholic Diocese issued this response:
"In regard to the issue of adoption, we defer to the words of Pope Francis in his exortation Amoris Laetitia, 'The Church does not support the adoption of children by same sex couples since homosexual unions are contrary to the divine plan.'"