Carolyn Woo is the first woman to be president of Catholic Relief Services and the second lay person to do so. CRS has been in existence since 1943. During World War II, “the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States established CRS to help war-torn Europe and its refugees recover from this great conflict.” While the history of CRS goes on to say that “even today, 70 years later, our mission continues to focus on the poor overseas, using the gospel of Jesus Christ as our mandate,” something is not ringing quite true.
During a recent interview, Woo noted that, while there have been accusations that CRS is involved in programs where birth control and abortion services are made available, this is not the case. She said that the role of CRS, in associating with groups that do provide such services, is to be the voice of the Catholic Church and its teachings on the role of natural family planning as an alternative to contraception.
However, research into this question indicates that quite the opposite is the case. In one particular report, research into family planning services in Madagascar found: “As an ‘implementing health partner’ with USAID, CRS must ensure the provision of contraception and abortifacients to Malagasy citizens in its communes. Population Research Institute investigators have confirmed that the distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients by CRS health workers within their communes to be a systemic problem in Madagascar.”
Isolated incident? Not at all. As research done within our own organization has revealed, “86 percent of CRS’ grants to domestic groups in 2012 went to groups that promote contraceptives, in addition to, in some cases, other evils such as abortion, the abortifacient ‘morning-after pill,’ and homosexuality. In 2013, the Catholic aid organization gave a $2.7 million grant to Population Services International, which markets a ‘Safe Abort Kit’ in developing countries.”
Further, the Lepanto Institute has analyzed the problematic nature of CRS’ involvement with programs that are contradictory to Catholic teaching and that are anything but true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And then there’s the problem of the homosexual senior CRS official Rick Estridge, vice president of overseas finance. Mr. Estridge married his homosexual partner in Maryland in April 2013. Woo said in her interview, when asked about the “civil gay marriage,” that CRS is “working through this.” She asserted that gay marriage is a “very complex issue.”
Various Catholic voices, including that of Pope Benedict XVI, have reiterated the teachings of the Church on the question of homosexuality. In truth, there is really nothing at all complex about whether or not a Catholic can endorse, support, or be involved in a “gay marriage.” In addition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterated Church teaching: “As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.”
Homosexuality is the issue; it should have been the single focus of Woo’s comments, and her position should have been consonant with Catholic teaching. To wit, homosexuality is a grave moral disorder. Contrary to Woo’s comments, there is nothing complex about this at all.
So why is it that Woo obfuscates? Clearly she has chosen to be the servant of the gospel of tolerance rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ—and that is the problem.
This situation smells like rotten eggs to me.
But I have every reason to hope, pray, and act in the manner Christ expects of each of us. He is the answer, and this problem is ultimately in God’s hands, for as we know and believe, God’s will is the hope of every believing human being.
ACTION: Pray for the misguided and learn the truth.