Catholic Charities of Rockford announced Thursday that the agency will halt its state-funded foster care and adoption services Wednesday — the day civil unions take effect in Illinois.

The decision is the first of what could become a domino effect of Catholic Charities leaving the foster care and adoption business to avoid liability if state law requires them to place children with parents in civil unions — either gay or straight.

In Rockford, the decision could displace about 350 foster children served by Catholic Charities and put 58 employees out of work.

Officials cited a lack of clarity in the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, which does not specify whether religious child welfare agencies must place children with couples in civil unions.

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