A Response to Catholic Relief Services regarding the World Social Forum

By Rob Gasper

On April 28, Catholic Relief Services launched a preemptive public response to American Life League’s concerns regarding findings that had, up to this point, remained unpublished. ALL had not yet published this research with the hope that private discussions could reach a satisfactory resolution and scandal could be avoided amongst the faithful. 

This research involves a number of Catholic organizations, including CRS, and its active participation in a yearly event and ongoing movement called the World Social Forum. ALL is concerned with this participation, as the World Social Forum and its local manifestations—notably the US Social Forum and European Social Forum—actively and willfully promote abortion, homosexuality, Marxism, and worldwide revolution. 

CRS’ response consists of a single paragraph, the majority of which is a somewhat sanitized description of the World Social Forum lifted from another website. The remainder explains that the WSF does not take active positions for other organizations and is primarily an open forum for discussion. CRS then admits to a “modest” level of participation and states that other Catholic organizations are more actively involved. 

CRS’ response is accurate but misleading and incomplete, in the same sense as using the word canoe to describe a battleship.

Yes, the WSF does promote itself in its own charter as an open space for discussion for all things opposed to capitalist globalization with the goal of cross-pollination between organizations to “build another world.” However, in practice, WSF events are officially organized along thematic elements including blatant promotion of abortion, Marxism, homosexuality, and revolution. This “thematic axes” description from 2006 makes the agenda a bit more clear with its inclusion of “sexual and reproductive rights and decriminalization of abortion,” among other notable entries. 

Yes, it is accurate that the WSF states that it does not impose any positions on attending organizations. However, the declarations that flow forth from officially sponsored assemblies are eye-opening. For instance, the Women’s Assembly of the WSF 2009’s official declaration included the following: “We stand with all women criminalized for the practice of abortion and defend this right. We strengthen our commitment and join together in actions to resist fundamentalist and conservative attacks, in order to guarantee that all those women who need to, are entitled to safe and legal abortion.” 

Furthermore, the WSF officially recognized and promoted the 2008 “Day of Struggle to Legalize Abortion” in Brazil and Latin America. This video, captured at a WSF event promoting this day of struggle, is direct evidence of the pro-abortion nature of the forum. 

It is accurate that CRS’ level of involvement is more modest than other Catholic organizations. CRS has primarily attended the WSF to promote fair trade and other CRS priorities. In several instances, CRS has supported and promoted the WSF in its publications (for example, this 2006 article “CRS Supports European Social Forum”). However, we must ask why an official agency of the US Catholic bishops is involved even “modestly” with an organization that openly promotes the murder of children created by God. 

ALL respectfully asks CRS to properly address this information, as well as give an explanation as to the level of appropriateness for a Catholic organization to attend, promote, and participate in the WSF. We understand that CRS does not speak on behalf other Catholic organizations, though leading by example would do much to repair this breach of Catholic identity and perhaps influence these organizations to follow suit. 

Rob Gasper is a senior research analyst for American Life League and is the editor of ALL News.