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USCCB spokesman: anti-trafficking grant recipients lack experience

Catholic World News - October 14, 2011

The director of media relations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is charging that the new recipients of a federal grant to assist victims of human trafficking lack experience.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement declined to renew a grant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) to aid victims of human trafficking--likely because of the agency’s refusal to offer trafficking victims a “full range of reproductive services.” MRS has assisted 2,700 victims since 2006.

“HHS is also requiring that MRS provide the ‘full range of reproductive services’ to trafficking victims and unaccompanied minors in its cooperative agreements and government contracts —and we all know what that means,” Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York wrote in a recent letter to the bishops of the United States. “This is exactly the position urged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the ongoing lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of MRS’s contracts as, ironically, a violation of religious liberty.”

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the US bishops’ spokeswoman, commented:

The program worked well on the ground. but not so well for distant administrators promoting the abortion and contraceptive agenda, who bristle at the fact that in accord with Church teaching, USCCB won’t facilitate taking innocent life, sterilization and artificial contraception. MRS anti-trafficking programs ran successfully for six years in harmony with these moral convictions until the American Civil Liberties Union brought suit against the government for not forcing the USCCB program to provide these services as a part of the program. The suit’s outcome is pending, but ORR apparently has made its own decision apart from any judgment of the court. So much for the Administration’s guarantee of conscience protection.

“That’s the climate which allowed ORR to dismiss the USCCB proposal and instead award grant money to the United States Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, (USCRI), Heartland and Tapestri,” she continued. “ORR even awarded more money than it said it would in the original proposal.”

Sister Walsh added:

ORR earmarked most of the money for USCRI. Eskinder Negash, current director of the ORR, had been vice-president and chief operating officer at USCRI before joining ORR in 2009.

The ORR’s request for proposals had stated that agencies receiving the money were to be fully operational ten days after being awarded the grant. That would have been October 10. One wonders how that could have happened since USCRI and Heartland reportedly were posting ads seeking to hire staff just a few days before that date. None of the three organizations has much depth of experience in monitoring and providing services.

USCCB staff were given a number to call for a smooth transition for the people served by the anti-trafficking program. Those who called it found no one could answer their questions …

ORR seems to have yielded to abortion politics. It has undercut a worthy program, limiting the numbers served, while increasing the time and money it will take to serve them.

“Apparently HHS rules about the benefits of experience and cost effectiveness can be waived,” she concluded. “So can rules about being fully operational by a certain date. What can’t be waived is the new, albeit unwritten rule of HHS, the ABC rule – Anybody But Catholics.”

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: ladybird - Oct. 14, 2011 3:53 PM ET USA

    What can we expect from the "Catholic" crowd that screeches at congress for passing a law forbidding the use of federal monies for abortion that they are "willing to watch women die on the floor!!". And this from a professed devout Catholic - who has yet to be PUBLICLY chastised by her Bishop! Why should the USCCB be taken seriously - they have been playing nicy-nice for so long that even their own believe they are supportive of such evil policies. Better late than never - but.....

  • Posted by: - Oct. 14, 2011 1:16 PM ET USA

    If you lie with dogs you rise with fleas.

  • Posted by: Dan - Oct. 14, 2011 11:47 AM ET USA

    That this administration operates a blatantly anti-Catholic bias should come as no surprise. More insidious, dishonest, and offensive is its blatant effort to elevate and legitimize dissenting and heterodox Catholics and their errors (too numerous to cite). Nevertheless, the Church ought to reconsider its role as a large government contractor. The best argument for lower taxes: robust, community-rooted, and authentically faithful Catholic social services funded entirely by the faithful!

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