Accusations Are 'Inaccurate and Scurrilous'

Catholic Relief Services said that its decision to allocate $5.3 million in emergency funding to the humanitarian organization CARE in 2010 under a U.S. government grant did not violate Catholic teaching. In postings on its Web site on July 20 and July 24, the U.S. bishops’ international development and relief agency explained that the money it provided to CARE was specifically used for water, sanitation and nutrition programs for poor families in Central America and Africa and could not be transferred to other services provided by CARE.

The C.R.S. statements came in response to an online report that criticized C.R.S.’s decision to work with CARE because that agency provides contraceptives and other family planning services to women. C.R.S. said the report, which made its way to several Web sites, contained “inaccurate and scurrilous accusations.”

Advertisement

John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSiteNews and author of the article, stood by the story. In particular, he pointed to the findings of John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, who said the distribution of funds to CARE could pose risk of “scandal.” Haas, however, also told C.R.S. that none of the grants in question that the Catholic agency made to partnering organizations constituted support of or involvement in immoral activities.

“C.R.S. 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,” the church relief agency said on July 24. “Any funding Catholic Relief Services provides to CARE or any other international humanitarian organization comes from an outside source such as the federal government or a foundation, for a specific project, and has strict restrictions on its use.

“The grant in question with CARE,” the statement continued, “was used to provide vitally needed food, clean water, sanitation services and basic nutrition programs to desperately poor families in Zimbabwe, Madagascar and five countries in Central America. Make no mistake about it, these programs are saving lives.”

C.R.S. said on July 20 that it vetted its partnerships with CARE and other organizations in 2011 with Haas. The agency said the center’s review concluded that none of the grants to partnering organizations constituted support of or involvement in immoral activities and that there was “little to no risk” of grant funds being used for programs outside of the grant request or for freeing up money at the receiving organization for immoral purposes. The review noted, however, that there could be a risk of “scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that C.R.S. was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues.” C.R.S. explained that it continues to work with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the bioethics center to address such risk.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

It is astonishing to think that God would choose to enter the world this way: as a fragile newborn who could not even hold up his own head without help.
Ginny Kubitz MoyerOctober 20, 2017
Protestors rally to support Temporary Protected Status near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Around 200,000 Salvadorans and 57,000 Hondurans have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years under Temporary Protected Status. But that status is set to expire in early 2018.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 20, 2017
At the heart of Anne Frank’s life and witness is a hopeful faith in humanity.
Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.October 20, 2017
Forensic police work on the main road in Bidnija, Malta, which leads to Daphne Caruana Galizias house, looking for evidence on the blast that killed the journalist as she was leaving her home, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Caruana Galizia, a harsh critic of Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat, and who reported extensively on corruption on Malta, was killed by a car bomb on Monday. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Rarely does the death of a private citizen elicit a formal letter of condolence from the Pope.