Lent is here, and as we begin the season of penance, Catholic Relief Services is passing around paper rice bowls and asking for funds. But before you put even a single penny into the massive CRS coffers, consider the character of the organization itself. Sadly, even though CRS’s name begins with the word “Catholic,” it is all too willing to promote, work with and even participate in programs and organizations that believe the elimination of children is the best way to fight poverty.
For several years, Catholic Relief Services has been working hard to defend its funding of organizations that dispense condoms, perform surgical sterilizations, distribute abortifacient contraception, and actually commit abortions. CRS’s excuses for this are both proportionalist in nature and speak more to a desire to acquire government funding than to defend and promote Catholic teaching.
In 2012, Life Site News revealed that Catholic Relief Services had given $5.3 million to an organization that actively distributed abortifacient contraception. Since then, CRS has been found to be giving tens of millions of dollars, annually, to organizations actively working to push contraception on poor people around the world. When initially faced with this information, CRS’s response was to distance itself from the actual provision of these grants by claiming that they were merely acting as a “pass-through” to other organizations for federally designated grants. But this excuse quickly unraveled when Life Site News asked CRS if it would ever provide such a pass-through grant to Planned Parenthood. CRS’s official response was:
We would never partner with Planned Parenthood. We’ve given this a lot of consideration, and there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.
CRS refrained from defining exactly what it means by “the focus of an agency” or the “preponderance of its work” and failed to establish exactly what the threshold actually is. But even though such a grant is merely a “pass-through” and therefore outside its responsibility, CRS would refuse to work with Planned Parenthood because of this undefined threshold. Which is to say that CRS will tolerate funding an organization that does some intrinsically evil work, so long as it’s not the majority of what that organization does.
However, CRS’s assertion of a threshold goes up in smoke as we consider the $2.7 million that CRS paid to Population Services International because abortion and contraception make up the majority of PSI’s work. To be clear, Population Services International has only one thing in mind, and that is the reduction of the world population by abortion and birth control. In an article PSI posted on its website, it stated very clearly that contraception and abortion are the “lynchpin” to poverty reduction. After stating that “Meeting the unmet demand for family planning [is] integral to reducing the global fertility rate and the rapid growth of the world’s population,” PSI said:
Improving reproductive and maternal health is the linchpin of poverty eradication. It is only through giving women greater choice and access to family planning and safer births that we will lift communities from desperate poverty.
The vast majority of Population Services International’s work includes the expansion of abortion and contraception, and in fact, there is not a place that PSI works where contraception and/or abortion are not included in its activities. And while CRS claims that it would never work with Planned Parenthood because “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work,” CRS owes Catholics an explanation as to how its funding of PSI is dissimilar to the funding of Planned Parenthood.
But it’s all a smokescreen, anyway. If, as CRS consistently protests, the funding of abortion and contraception providing organizations are merely “pass-through grants” for projects that cannot be used for immoral activities, then technically speaking, CRS should have no moral problem with funding Planned Parenthood for a morally neutral project. As it stands, CRS’s undefined litmus test for the “focus of an agency” and “the preponderance of its work” is immaterial as long as CRS maintains the argument that its grants are merely “pass-through” grants for morally acceptable programs. But CRS’s other excuses are equally absurd.
In its defense of the $2.7 million grant it provided to PSI, CRS claims that the money was not fungible (meaning, it cannot be used for anything other than what it was earmarked for), and that the money was specifically used for fighting malaria. CRS said:
Some will say that all money is fungible, but that is not true. There are very tight controls over the money to ensure it only goes toward the malaria program in Guinea.
PSI, on the other hand, explained on page 52 of this USAID document that its work on malaria was “deeply intertwined” with its “reproductive health” agenda. It said:
“Reproductive, maternal and child health and malaria are all deeply intertwined, affecting poor and vulnerable populations in rural areas together. Success (or failure) in one area, such as malaria, can free up resources to focus on other areas, or drag down progress.”
In other words, PSI is using its malaria-fighting programs in order to further its push for abortion and contraception. In fact, the document further explains how it is using the influence and work of organizations like CRS in order to gain access to people it wouldn’t otherwise have. It said, “Integrated programs also offer many opportunities to reach target audiences, especially rural women and caretakers of children under five, more cost-effectively than a vertical program operating in isolation could.” Given that PSI so clearly stated its intention to integrate its contraception and abortion pushing activities in its malaria-fighting programs, it’s difficult to see how CRS can claim that the money isn’t “fungible.”
Currently, the Lepanto Institute is examining CRS’s latest list of grantees, and the story is simply more of the same. We’ll be providing information on the latest list of scandalous grants as soon as the profiles have been written, but here’s the thing … CRS’s constant excuse-making for why it is funding organizations that push abortion and birth control is a constant retreat into a seemingly endless supply of other excuses. The above excuses were made to exonerate it from the grants it provided to organizations engaged in gravely evil activities. In order to claim to have clean hands, CRS insists that the money wasn’t fungible, and really wasn’t its money anyway. However, this excuse cannot be made for its dues-paying membership in COREgroup and MEDiCAM.
In 2012, CRS was discovered to be a dues-paying member and on the board of directors of COREgroup, an organization that uses a large percentage of its annual budget to push contraception.
Later that year, it was discovered that CRS was a dues-paying member and on the steering committee of MEDiCAM, an organization that actively worked to expand access to and training of abortion providers in Cambodia.
The dues paid by CRS for these memberships is indeed fungible, and doesn’t come in the form of “pass-through” grants, but is provided by money collected from faithful Catholics sitting in the pews on Sundays. Knowing this, CRS didn’t try to make the same excuses it did for the “pass-through” grants it provides to other organizations, but instead opted to claim that membership in these groups was somehow “a means of demonstrating our faithfulness to Church teaching” or that its work would “be hampered if we did not belong.” This is a real departure from the previous excuses because it is an acknowledgement of the evil being done by these organizations and with CRS’s money and CRS’s good name. In other words, CRS is saying that the ends justifies the means, and it’s ok with that.
The real problem here is that CRS sees no problem with funding organizations that view children as a serious obstacle to fighting poverty, and in fact actively work to remove children from the equation. One has to wonder if CRS would ever fund an organization that promoted genocide as the best means of eliminating racism, or an organization that even engaged in sex-trafficking as a means of reducing sexual tensions. Even though it would only be a “pass-through” grant and the particular project wouldn’t go to such efforts, one wonders if CRS would fund an organization that had a side-project to train suicide-bombers seeking to blow-up Catholic churches.
If the answer is “no” to any of these other examples, then either CRS views contraception and abortion as less evil than genocide, sex-trafficking and terrorism, it doesn’t really believe that contraception and abortion are evil at all, or it just values the money it gets from the government more than it values the souls of those corrupted by its grantees.
Whatever the case, when considering the rice-bowl collection this Lent, why not send CRS a note instead, telling them that you will not give them money until they stop funding the enemies of Christ. For your convenience, we’ve made one that you can print out and send to them yourself. Just click the image and print the page.