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Catholic Relief Services responds to news report on contraceptive funding

Catholic World News - July 23, 2012

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the US bishops’ official relief and development agency, has responded to a LifeSiteNews report on its 2010 grant of $5,380,466 to CARE, a humanitarian agency that integrates contraception into its emergency and relief efforts.

The grant was “for use in collaborative anti-poverty programming in Central America and Africa,” CRS said in a statement. The funds were “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.”

According to the CRS tax return, the purpose of the grant to CARE was “emergency.”

The CRS statement added that

Catholic Relief Services, in communion with the Church, strictly upholds Catholic moral teaching. All of the CRS programs and all of the funds used by CRS are entirely consistent with Church teaching. Faithfulness to Church teaching always has been and always will be our policy. CRS 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.

CRS always has taken very seriously decisions we make about the groups with which we collaborate or form partnerships to ensure that we are not violating the Church teachings. We do not fund, support or participate in any programming or advocacy that is not in line with Church teaching, including artificial birth control.

CRS also stated that a recent investigation of similar grants conducted by the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) found that

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. 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.

“Effective programming in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a vital component of CARE's work to reduce poverty and social injustice,” CARE states on its web site. “Improving SRH and addressing the unmet need for family planning are central to CARE's commitment to poverty reduction and gender equity.”

“We integrate reproductive heath [sic] into our emergency and relief efforts,” CARE continues, adding:

The need for reproductive health care, including family planning, is necessary and vital during or after these crises. Often, reproductive health is not considered a top priority for humanitarian response efforts compared to more urgent needs such as food, water and shelter.

With support from RAISE (Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies), CARE aims to build comprehensive family planning and reproductive health into the core of our emergency response efforts and to our response to emergencies, chronic conflicts and crises. Together with governments and other partners, we are focusing on emergency obstetric care, family planning (including emergency contraception), HIV and sexually transmitted infections, preventing infections and confronting gender-based violence … RAISE is a joint initiative of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Marie Stopes International.

The RAISE initiative’s web site includes articles critical of the Church’s teaching on abortion and contraception; Marie Stopes International, based in London, is a leading abortion provider.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jul. 24, 2012 2:44 PM ET USA

    It is embarrassing to see CRS using the same argument as Planned Parenthood. I don't give money to Planned Parenthood because you can't do a pap test in one room and dismember a baby in another room and say well I'm just giving to the 'good' they do. You don't give money to organizations that participate in practices that are an affront to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I will give to organizations that provide direct services in line with our Lord's teaching,not'grants'to questionable entities.

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 24, 2012 7:44 AM ET USA

    The CRS hair-splitting explanation of the CARE grant based on the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin is not persuasive. Given the organization's history of questionable grants, one can only conclude that they still don't "get it".

  • Posted by: wsw33410 - Jul. 23, 2012 11:08 PM ET USA

    Question to CRS (based on the US Government websites information): If CRS receives substantial funding from the US government (approx $350 million annually); if “HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases” is one of its programs (and part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR); if the US government (see USAID websites) indicates that its Family Planning Program activities include “fighting HIV/AIDS through providing information, counseling and access to male and female condoms”; if under PEPFAR, when it was re-authorised in 2008, the abstinence until marriage directive was removed --- how it upholds Catholic moral teaching? Additionally, the “emergency” grant to CARE, where “CRS is not in agreement with CARE’s policy on contraception”, seems like a positive collaboration … even though CARE’s other activities and partnerships are evidently IMMORAL.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jul. 23, 2012 8:50 PM ET USA

    So why don't they give money to Planned Parenthood as long as PP promises the money will be used to treat STDs and breast cancer screenings? I mean if the money is not fungible, why not? Obviously that would be wrong because it is cooperating with evil. The same is true with providing any money, no matter the stipulations, to CARE.

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