Earlier this week, the pro-life website LifeSiteNews published an article critical of Catholic Relief Services that contained inaccurate and incomplete information about our relationship with the humanitarian agency CARE, specifically for $5.3 million CRS gave to CARE for use in collaborative anti-poverty programming in Central America and Africa. We would like to correct the record by providing this important information, which was not included in the article:
Catholic Relief Services, in communion with the Church, strictly upholds Catholic moral teaching. All of the CRS programs and all of the funds used by CRS are entirely consistent with Church teaching. Faithfulness to Church teaching always has been and always will be our policy. CRS is not in agreement with CARE’s policy on contraception because we do not support any positions that would be in violation of Catholic teaching on human dignity and the sanctity of human life.
CRS always has taken very seriously decisions we make about the groups with which we collaborate or form partnerships to ensure that we are not violating the Church teachings. We do not fund, support or participate in any programming or advocacy that is not in line with Church teaching, including artificial birth control.
These concerns about grants and partnerships, including the concerns over CARE, were raised to CRS last year. The agency undertook a thorough review of all partnerships together with Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC). After careful review, their report came to three main conclusions:
1. None of the grants listed constitutes support of or involvement in immoral activities.
2. None of the funding from CRS was fungible. That is, there is little to no risk of the grant funds being used either (i) for purposes outside those outlined in the grant request or (ii) for freeing up money in the receiving organization for immoral purposes by virtue of their having received the grant from CRS.
3. The NCBC found that there could be a risk of scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that CRS was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues. To avoid any misunderstanding, such as the Lifesite news article, CRS worked with the Bishops and the NCBC to address this risk through internal and external communications on our work, and continues to do so. This is spelled out in a statement posted below our Mission Statement on our website, titled The Catholic Values of CRS: http://crs.org/about/mission-statement/.
The $5.3 million in question was used by CARE for water and sanitation programs in four Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), for food and nutrition programs, as well as water and sanitation in Madagascar; and for food and nutrition programs in Zimbabwe.
CRS does promote abstinence and Natural Family Planning as embraced by the Church. You can find more details at http://crs.org/east-timor/healthier-moms-healthier-babies/