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Strauss Played the Violin; CRS Plays Catholic Bishops

Catholic Relief Services is one of the most obvious paradoxes in current speech. Even while CRS strives to bring aid to help the poorest of the poor, its work is ultimately undone by the very organizations CRS is funding.

CRS does not dispute the facts: It gave $65 million to 23 organizations that promote or facilitate access to abortion, contraception, and sterilization. 

Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church is not an NGO (nongovernmental organization). The Church is the bride of Christ, and in this context I do not believe for one second that bishops would actually support the idea that, in order to serve the poor, CRS must accept government grants to then fund groups who work so hard to undermine Catholic evangelization. The very idea is preposterous.

In recent times, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has established standards for its Catholic Campaign for Human Development, including the policy that organizations directly facilitating abortion and contraception will not receive grants. It stands to reason that CRS, which is another of the bishops’ charities, should be held to the same standard. However, American Life League’s recent report—and video recap of that report—expose an ugly truth: CRS is not upholding the funding standard established by the USCCB. In fact, CRS isn’t even adhering to the standard it set for itself when it claimed a threshold “in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.”  

Among the examples we enumerate for the Catholic bishops is the $2.7 million CRS gave to Population Services International. While CRS argued that its grant to PSI was all about “saving lives,” and claims that it didn’t have a choice, the truth contradicts that statement. PSI is selling “safe abortion kits” in India, where it has inserted over 52,000 intrauterine devices and facilitated nearly 3,000 abortions. 

Furthermore, CRS donated more than $13 million to CARE International. CARE made a public commitment to put the spread of birth control “at the center of its sexual, reproductive, and maternal health” programs. CARE also committed to ensuring that “women and girls’ family planning and reproductive health needs are addressed” in its “development, emergency, and post-conflict response activities.” CARE has already partnered with the international abortion promoter Marie Stopes International to facilitate access to IUDs and surgical sterilizations.

CRS donated another $13 million plus to Save the Children, an organization that made a public commitment at the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012 to help frontline providers deliver family planning services, “remove financial barriers to contraception,” and “stimulate demand for family planning.” It is actively dispensing all forms of birth control and promoting “sexual and reproductive” rights, especially to adolescents and young adults.

It is impossible to represent American Catholics on one day and promote such activities the next without them becoming one and the same. 

So the question is this: Why has this sort of activity been going on in the name of the Catholic Church when one of the Church’s clearest teachings is that contraception and abortion are gravely evil acts against the law of God? Well, quite possibly one of the reasons is that the vast majority of Catholics have no problem with contraception, and in many cases abortion as well. 

Do the bishops believe what CRS is saying publicly? Perhaps they do, which is why we set about preparing the report and the video for them. It is our sincere hope that each of the bishops will see why CRS’ funding practices are harming the Church’s work to defend human sexuality and the preborn. 

If CRS would simply stop funding organizations that push abortion and birth control, because the bishops require that they do so, we believe the result would be an incredible blessing to all involved.

Is there a single bishop who would stand before our crucified Lord, at the foot of His cross, and say how proud he is that CRS gave money to organizations that kill babies and conduct chemical warfare on women and preborn children? We do not believe there is.

This is why now is the time to fast and pray for our bishops, while urgently beseeching them to put an end to CRS’ deadly financial partnerships.