"We're a Catholic organization, so we have to practice what we do consistent with the teaching of the church," Dennis C. Walczyk, the chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, told The News.
A same-sex couple recently applied to the agency to become adoptive foster parents, and that precipitated the agency's decision, Walczyk said.
The Catholic church maintains that marriage can take place only between a man and a woman, leaving the organization no choice but to close its operations, the Catholic Charities officials said, because the state requires contracting organizations to allow same-sex couples to adopt or foster children.
The agency currently holds a contract with the Erie County Department of Social Services that expires in March.
"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," Walczyk said in a statement formally announcing the end of the services. "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."
The News reported that Catholic Charities arranges an average of five adoptions per year and currently has 55 certified foster homes.
"New York State law is clear," said Children and Family Services spokeswoman Monica Mahaffey. "Discrimination of any kind is illegal and in this case OCFS will vigorously enforce the laws designed to protect the rights of children and same sex couples.
"In New York State, we welcome all families who are ready to provide loving and nurturing homes to foster or adoptive children. There is no place for providers that choose not to follow the law," she said.