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Catholic Bishops’ Conference defends the right to provide adoption services in Virginia

The bishops’ political group has spoken out against a proposal that would make it illegal for faith-based agencies to follow their moral beliefs while placing children in placements.

A public policy group affiliated with the Catholic Church in Virginia warns that a proposal by gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe would prohibit faith-based agencies from placing children in foster homes.

McAuliffe served as governor from 20014 to 2018 and is looking to serve another term. He pledged to repeal Virginia’s conscience clause, which protects child placement agencies from being required to place children where it would violate the agency’s moral or religious beliefs.

The Catholic Conference of Virginia, which promotes policy initiatives on behalf of the bishops of Virginia, supports retention of the current law.

Executive Director Jeff Caruso told the Washington Free Beacon that the conscience clause, which has been part of state law since 2012, allows faith-based agencies to place children, but does not prevent anyone from adopting or fostering a child through an agency non-denominational.

“Current Virginia law ensures that no child placement agency, including faith-based agencies, is obligated to participate in placements of children that violate their beliefs and moral convictions,” Caruso said.

“Prohibiting faith-based organizations from following their beliefs will hurt families who wish to work with agencies that share their beliefs. This law does not prevent anyone who wishes to adopt a child or provide a foster home from doing so, ”he said.

In February 2021, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a law repealing the conscience clause. The bill was then referred to a Senate committee but was not put to a vote in that body.

The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in Fulton v. City of philadelphia asserted the right of Catholic Social Services (CSS) to place children in foster families. In this case, the city of Philadelphia refused to refer the children to CSS because the agency would not allow same-sex couples to be foster parents. The Supreme Court ruled that the city of Philadelphia violated the first amendment free exercise clause of the US Constitution.

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