A Response to Archbishop Sheehan regarding critics of Catholic Relief Services

December 5, 2013 09:00 AM

By Michael Hichborn

Two weeks ago, I was in Baltimore with a fellow ALL employee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall Assembly and, despite Michael Sean Winters’ assertion that I was “lurking around, waiting to corner a bishop,” we did as we have done for the previous three years. We prayed for the bishops, watched the proceedings, and made ourselves available to any bishops wishing to speak with us. 

During the first Monday afternoon session, Catholic Relief Services gave a presentation on its work. At the end of the presentation, several bishops stood up to ask questions or make comments. Archbishop Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico, stood and made the following statement (it can be seen starting at 01:07:30):

As all of us here know, there have been some very unfair and untrue criticisms . . . attacks, if you will . . . on Catholic Relief Services. These criticisms have been terribly unfair and have been checked out very carefully so that we know that we’re on the right track in terms of the work that we do for the poor of the third world.

With all due respect to His Excellency, the concerns raised by American Life League, accompanied with our detailed report on CRS’ grantees, are neither unfair nor untrue. In short, American Life League is concerned by the fact that CRS, in fiscal year 2012, facilitated $64,656,809 to 23 organizations dedicated to the spread of abortion, contraception, and sterilization throughout the third world. If the information contained in our report were untrue, then Bishop Kicanas would not have responded to Archbishop Naumann’s question, “Are we using at least the same standards as CCHD?” by saying:

In order to do humanitarian work, it’s necessary to work with other major international organizations. Sadly, most of those organizations do not hold or carry out the teachings of the Church as we understand them. This is sad. This is disappointing. Nevertheless, it’s important in order to do humanitarian work around the world that we partner with organizations that sometimes are not in keeping with our teaching. 

In short, Bishop Kicanas confirms that CRS indeed facilitates tens of millions of dollars to wicked organizations. Most recently, CRS is responsible for facilitating $2.7 million to Population Services International, an organization that creates and markets its OWN “safe abortion kits.”

So, despite Archbishop Sheehan’s claim that our “criticisms have been terribly unfair and have been checked out very carefully,” our information is confirmed by the chairman of CRS and our concerns justified. Again, with all due respect to His Excellency, it seems that the concerns we raised regarding CRS have been checked about as carefully as the grants the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has facilitated through Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Currently, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe lists the organization called Somos un Pueblo Unido as a recipient of archdiocesan money through the CCHD. Somos’ own newsletter advertised for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and its own radio show strongly praised the work of Young Women United for fighting to stop pro-life legislation. 

Furthermore, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe facilitated another national CCHD grant to the Partnership for Community Action (PCA). With representation on the board of directors of the New Mexico Public Health Association (NMPHA), and as a sponsor of NMPHA’s legislative proposals, PCA supported human embryonic stem cell research and contraceptive teen pregnancy prevention programs. PCA is also a financial supporter of New Mexico Voices for Children, whose charter calls for homosexual rights, and whose website and documents promote the use of a wide range of contraception. 

Your Excellency, Our Blessed Lord charges us to remove the plank from our own eyes before attempting to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. With this in mind, I ask you to carefully and thoughtfully consider the concerns we have raised in the spirit in which they are intended.

Michael Hichborn is director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project.

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