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Catholic Relief Services: A Pox on the Church?

Merriam-Webster defines pox as a disastrous evil. It would seem that Catholic Relief Services’ repeated denials of the facts represent just this sort of wickedness—a wound on the body of the Church that does not appear to be healing.

We have voiced concerns before, and repeatedly, on the problematic nature of CRS’ involvement with organizations that represent goals and activities contrary to Catholic doctrine. In response, CRS denies and postures itself as the innocent victim of alleged isolationist tactics.

So once again we are exposing its deceit. We have published an open letter to CRS, and this time we have sent a copy to each Catholic bishop, as well as leadership within CRS.

Dear Catholic Relief Services,

My heart sank when I read your response to our report about the organizations you have been funding. CRS is an organization with a long and virtuous history of giving aid to those Mother Theresa called the poorest of the poor, and I am heartbroken by your general dismissals and justifications for the grave concerns we and other pro-life organizations have brought to your attention.

As a lifelong Catholic deeply committed to all of the doctrines of the Church, whether it be about aid to the poor or the Church’s teachings on human life and sexuality, I simply do not understand why CRS is so devoted to funding organizations driven by the idea that the elimination of children is the solution to the problem of poverty.

I was happy to read last year that CRS would never fund Planned Parenthood. In an interview with LifeSiteNews, CRS said that “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.” However, every statement CRS has issued defending its funding practices would give CRS justification to fund Planned Parenthood. There is no discernible difference between Planned Parenthood and Population Services International, which manufactures, markets, and distributes “safe abortion kits,” and yet Planned Parenthood is barred from funding while PSI gets $2.8 million from CRS. What happened to the threshold?

In the response to our report, CRS claims that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and CRS follow the same rules regarding the funding of abortion and contraception-pushing organizations. However, CRS fails to explain that the standard for CCHD, set by the bishops, requires of each grantee “the highest standards of accountability and conformity with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church,” while CRS continues to fund organizations spreading all forms of birth control. How is this not a double standard?

CRS claims that our agenda is that “CRS and the Church should not engage with the outside world.” This is simply untrue. All we are asking is that CRS not fund or give a clean image to organizations that attack the culture of life. Yes, go into the world, but be careful not to become a part of it. Our concern with CRS’ continued funding of organizations like CARE, Save the Children, PSI, the Futures Group, ACDI/VOCA, ADRA, etc.—all of which are thoroughly committed to spreading all forms of birth control—is that CRS is giving millions of dollars and a Catholic stamp of approval to these organizations, simply because they do some good. Funding these groups is a little like paying wolves to tend the sheep.

Lastly, CRS said, “The real scandal would be not to do this work and to allow our brothers and sisters around the world to suffer and die.” In no way is American Life League suggesting that CRS stop working to serve the poorest of the poor. We are only asking that CRS give as much attention to the preborn children, endangered by the abortifacient drugs and devices dispensed by CRS grantees, as it does to the born babies in danger of malaria. As I said in the beginning, CRS has a long history of doing great work, and were it not for the recent discovery that CRS is funding groups that are killing babies and twisting the souls of the people it claims to help, we would only have praise for CRS’ good works. We do not see how terminating its financial ties with organizations like those profiled in our report will in any way prevent CRS from conducting the good work that it has long been known for.

Please, CRS, on behalf of the preborn babies in grave danger of being slaughtered by organizations like Jhpiego and PSI, and in defense of the millions of men and women whose souls are imperiled by groups like CARE and Save the Children, I beg you to please stop funding, praising, and giving a clean image to organizations like the ones in our report.

It is our fervent hope that CRS will carefully examine what it is actually doing, review the documentation that addresses the problem, and decide at long last to mend its ways. Only then can this gaping wound begin to heal.