Action Alert!

CRS and the non-conforming document [Updated]

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 03, 2012

Please help me to understand this paragraph in a recent news release from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). (The same paragraph was reproduced, without change, in a CWN headline story this morning:

CRS does not purchase, promote or distribute condoms, nor do we provide funding to other organizations for the purchase, promotion or distribution of condoms. LifeSite News recently made us aware of a document that did not conform to this position.

Let’s see: The policy is that CRS does not purchase, promote, or distribute condoms. But the document “did not conform to this position.” Thus we can safely infer, can’t we, that the document says CRS does purchase, promote, or distribute condoms? If that’s the case, the problem isn’t just a document; it’s a CRS policy.

Let’s just suppose, for example, that a document issued on CRS stationery, providing instructions for staff of a CRS-backed program, said:

Do not forget to provide information on local condom distribution…”

The problem is not that such a document exists. The problem is that such a CRS policy exists. Revising the document won’t solve the problem, if the people responsible for putting that policy in place remain.


"Personnel is policy," Washington insiders tell us. If you want to know how an organization approaches a job, look at the people they hire. In the case of CRS, this analysis leaves little doubt that the problem involves more than a non-conforming document.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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