Cardinal Timothy Dolan weighs in in the pages of USA TODAY about a case going before the Supreme Court Wednesday:
Most of the Church’s ministry was established in the face of crises and epidemics, much like what we are experiencing today. And yet our charitable work seemingly never escapes the ageless adage that “no good deed goes unpunished.” Since this nation’s very beginnings, the Church has gone to meet the needy, only to be met with opposition from those who disagree with its beliefs. Such needless opposition is as on trend today as it was in Elizabeth Seton’s time. And now it threatens to destroy a ministry serving the neediest children that Elizabeth was essential in founding.
Today, Nov. 4, the Supreme Court hears oral argument in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. At issue is whether the First Amendment protects the right of the Catholic Church’s foster care agency in Philadelphia to place vulnerable children with loving families without violating its sincere religious beliefs about marriage, that marriage is between a man and a woman. The other side argues that our agencies lose all religious liberty protections when they partner with the government to serve those in need — an obvious prerequisite for serving children who have been removed from their homes by the government. This novel claim has far reaching implications.
There are more than 8,000 faith-affirming foster agencies that partner with governments nationwide — not to mention the countless thousands of Catholic soup kitchens, homeless shelters, prison ministries, immigration legal services, and other social services supported by the Catholic Church. Were the government permitted to tell these crucial ministries which religious beliefs are permitted — and which are proscribed — solely because these ministries partner with the government, we would all be the poorer for it.
The Church serves these children without discriminating on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, religion, or race. Indeed, the only discrimination to be found is that of Philadelphia officials who target our ministries because they disagree with what the Church believes. Our nation has slowly but surely rooted out such bigotry. It should finish the job.