Catholic Relief Services is committed to upholding the teaching of the Church in all we do as we carry out the Gospel mission of serving the poor and vulnerable and defending human dignity around the world. CRS has been subject to serial attacks in the last month accusing the agency of not adhering to Church teaching. The latest of these is aimed at named employees. Here are the facts:
Charisse Glassman was an employee when she was involved in an incident in January 2011 that resulted in assault charges. She denied the charges and CRS gave her the presumption of innocence in accordance with standards of due process in this country. CRS sought legal counsel and actively inquired into this incident and other issues. She resigned in July of that year before going to trial.
Dr. Sok Pun, who works on health and HIV/AIDS issues in Cambodia, previously worked for CARE on projects that were entirely funded by USAID, which, at the time, operated under strict U.S. government guidelines that no money went to abortions or contraception. Dr. Pun’s work with CARE would meet the guidelines of Catholic Church teaching as, of course, does all his work for CRS.
Another report pinpointed Dr. Amy Ellis, CRS’ Regional Technical Advisor for Health & HIV in Asia. Contrary to that report, Dr. Ellis did not attend a conference in Senegal in November, 2011 as a participant or presenter. A poster she contributed to before her CRS employment was presented by others at the conference. Dr. Ellis did attend a conference in Bangladesh in May entitled “Asia Regional Meeting on Interventions for Impact in Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care.” She was there as a learning participant, focusing on maternal and neonatal health, gleaning valuable information and contacts to further CRS’ expertise in caring for and saving the lives of mothers and young children. Since joining CRS, Dr. Ellis has adhered to Church principles and teaching in her work for CRS, the standard required of all employees.
There was also concern about the prior employment of Daphyne Williams who works in Nairobi for CRS. As is expected of all staff at CRS, Daphyne has carefully abided by all Church teaching in her work for CRS, adhering to CRS’ strong position against the use of contraceptives and abortions. As Regional Technical Advisor in the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programs at CRS, she has provided strong support to improving the lives of orphaned children in East Africa.
CRS is an agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our 21-member board includes 15 bishops and the general secretary of the USCCB. We are constantly reviewing our policies to ensure their adherence to our Gospel mission in accordance with Church teaching and welcome all input that assists such reviews. All CRS staff are expected to abide by and follow Church teaching as it relates to our work.
CRS hires a diverse staff to provide the highest levels of professional services to the poor around the world. Although not all of our staff are Catholic, they do receive as part of their orientation instruction on Catholic teaching and its manifestation in our work. Our staff carries out the work of CRS with excellence and compassion while adhering to the tenets of Catholic teaching.
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