Not only did the Archdiocese of Washington have to restrict health care benefits, but it had to cut its foster-care program as well. At issue was the right of the archdiocese to reject gay marriage and remain a city contractor.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl is a man of principle and prudence: he did not want to end the foster-care program, but he was left with no realistic option. District lawmakers could have granted the kind of religious exemptions that would have ensured a continuation of services, but instead they sought to create a Catch-22 situation for the archdiocese. Surely they knew that Archbishop Wuerl was not going to negotiate Catholic Church teachings on marriage, yet that hardly mattered to them. The real losers are the children who were served by the Catholic Church.
Those who said that Wuerl was throwing the kids overboard are phonies. If Planned Parenthood were told that as a condition of public funding it had to refer Catholic women having second thoughts about abortion to a crisis pregnancy center, it would scream violation of church and state, refuse the money and end this program. Well, Archbishop Wuerl wasn’t about to allow the state to run roughshod over the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and that is why he was forced to drop the foster-care program.
Prudent lawmakers interested in balancing church and state interests and servicing children would not seek to impose secular views on sectarian institutions. But that’s not what D.C. legislators opted to do, leaving Archbishop Wuerl with no realistic alternative.