Dr. John Haas of The National Catholic Bioethics Center has told CRS that a LifeSite News headline that said he advised CRS not to fund CARE misrepresented his interaction with CRS. He did not advise CRS that it should not fund CARE but left the decision to the CRS board of directors, where it appropriately belongs according to Church teaching. Read John Haas’ own words for a complete explanation of the situation referred to in the LifeSite News article.
LifeSite News has since revised its headline, which now reads: John Haas Warned CRS that “Scandal Would Be Unavoidable” With Grant to CARE, which is more accurate. However, the article is still inaccurate because it states that Dr. Haas opposed the grant, which is false. After stating that scandal would be unavoidable, Dr. Haas went on to state that to address this problem CRS would have to “publicly disavow” the positions of CARE. We have done that and have taken steps to publicly affirm our adherence to the teaching of the Church.
In its report, The National Catholic Bioethics Center concluded the grants to CARE did not involve Catholic Relief Service in immoral activities or in immoral cooperation in illicit activities. The report indicated that there was a serious risk of theological scandal and urged that steps be taken to minimize this risk. The CRS board made the decision to award the grants and took steps to minimize the risk of misunderstanding.
These concerns about grants and partnerships, including the concerns over CARE, were raised to CRS last year. The agency undertook a thorough review of such partnerships. After careful review, the NCBC reported these three 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.