From April through September of 2014, Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute and Steve Mosher of Population Research Institute coordinated a joint investigation of programs implemented by Catholic Relief Services through two grants from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Kenya. Through the course of this intense investigation, Hichborn and Mosher found substantial evidence of CRS’s involvement with several programs that promote abortifacient contraception and condom use. The information was discovered in official government documents, corroborated by CRS’s implementing partners, and verified through an on-the-ground field investigator in Kenya. However, after presenting to CRS what was discovered in the PEPFAR documents, CRS’s only response was to say that they spoke with PEPFAR, PEPFAR apologized for mistakenly identifying CRS with the contraception-promoting programs indicated, and that the documents will be “corrected.” The documents were indeed altered. However, given the confirmation obtained by Hichborn and Mosher that these programs were implemented through CRS’s PEPFAR-funded projects, it is clear that this was not a correction, but a falsification of government documents.
The results of this investigation were compiled in a 56 page report, which can be obtained by clicking the link here.
Since September, The Lepanto Institute, Population Research Institute and Human Life International made numerous attempts to obtain meetings with Archbishop Coakley, current chairman of Catholic Relief Services’ Board of Directors, as well as other bishop members of the board. Despite repeated attempts, all requests were turned down.
What must be made clear here is that meeting with the bishops was of paramount importance. We knew that CRS staff could not be trusted because of the response they sent us, alleging that PEPFAR simply made a mistake and “adjusted” the documents accordingly. But we had verified that the programs indicated in the PEPFAR document were indeed implemented by CRS, making PEPFAR’s “adjustment” a falsification. Our hope was to resolve this matter quietly, without causing any embarrassment to the bishops. Publishing this information was done as a last resort in the hopes of helping the bishops to understand how deep the problems at CRS truly are.
What follows are portions of the full 56-page report, which can be viewed here. These portions make a succinct case that CRS implemented contraception-promoting programs in Kenya and then, after being confronted with government documentation, collaborated with a government agency to cover up what they did through the falsification of government documents.
- In PART 1 of this brief report is a volume of evidence which establishes that Catholic relief services implemented Healthy Choices II, a contraception-promoting curriculum for children age 13-17. The evidence indicates that CRS knew about the contraception-promoting elements of Healthy Choices II, yet implemented it anyway.
- PART 2 of this brief report proves that Healthy Choices II promotes abortifacient contraception, tells kids that using condoms is “fun,” and lies about the abortifacient effects of “emergency contraception.”
- PART 3 exposes how after CRS contacted PEPFAR, the references to CRS’s implementation of Healthy Choices II disappeared from the public record.
PART 1. CRS IMPLEMENTS HEALTHY CHOICES II
“CRS told MMAAK not to take Healthy Choices II to any Catholic School.” – Philip Nyakwana, MMAAK’s regional coordinator for Nairobi
In April of 2014, Hichborn discovered a PEPFAR document titled, Kenya Operational Plan Report FY 2012 (click the title to see the original document as it was discovered). Page 140 identifies CRS as the prime recipient of PEPFAR’s grant in Kenya for fiscal year 2012, for a project called, “Support and Assistance to Indigenous Implementing Agencies (SAIDIA). CRS received $3,857,351 for the project.
On the same page is a list of CRS’s sub-partners for the project. Sub-partners are other organizations participating in the implementation of the specific programs identified under the overall project. In the image labeled “Exhibit A,” five of CRS’s sub-partners for the SAIDIA project are identified: Africa Inland Church, Africa Brotherhood Church, the Archdiocese of Nyeri, Kenya Widows And Orphans Support Programme (KWOSP) and Movement of Men Against AIDS in Kenya (MMAAK). The importance of identifying these sub-partners will be made clear shortly.
Page 148 of the PEPFAR report indicates that CRS will implement “evidence-informed behavioral interventions (EBI)” called “Healthy Choices (1&2).” Specifically, the document says, “CRS and its partners will serve youth aged 10-14 with two EBIs – Healthy Choices I (HCI) and Families Matter! Program (FMP). Older adolescents aged 15-19 will receive Healthy Choices 2 (HC2) …HC2 provides older adolescents with the knowledge, confidence, and skills necessary to reduce their risk of STDs, HIV, and pregnancy by abstaining from sex or using other risk reduction strategies.” (emphasis added). “Risk reduction strategies” is an oblique reference to condom and contraception promotion. The screen shot of this quote is provided in Exhibit B.
Corroborating CRS’s implementation of HC2 is the published testimony of CRS’s own sub-partners, Africa Brotherhood Church, Africa Inland Church (AIC), and Caritas Nyeri (The Archdiocese of Nyeri). The following images, Exhibits C, D, and E all identify CRS as the head of the project (SAIDIA) and Healthy Choices II as a program being implemented through it. It should be noted that in the following screen captures, Healthy Choices 2 is being labeled an “AB” program, meaning, “Abstinence and Be Faithful,” and not an “ABC” program, which also includes consistent condom use. This, in itself, is deceitful.
Exhibit C: Caritas of Nyeri (which is a program of the Archdiocese of Nyeri) identifies Catholic Relief Services as the organization in charge of SAIDIA, and specifically indicates that Healthy Choices 2 (HC2) is being implemented by CRS and that it focuses on “pregnancy prevention” and “condom use.”
Exhibit D: The Africa Inland Church Kenya website also identifies CRS (through PEPFAR) as implementing Healthy Choices (HC). Though the language is ambiguous, this site provides a third, independent confirmation that CRS is indeed implementing Healthy Choices (HC) I and II.
Exhibit E: This screen capture of the Africa Brotherhood Church’s webpage shows that not only is CRS responsible for implementing Healthy Choices II (because it indicates that the HC program is for children as old as 17, which includes the HC II component), but also makes clear the fact that the Africa Brotherhood Church implemented Healthy Choices through CRS, providing CRS with regular reports on the matter. The Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC) says:
“In 2010, CHF phased out and the program was moved to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) who have continued to partner with ABC-CDP to date. In 2011, another program called Healthy Choices was added in the AB program, targeting school youths of age between 13-17 years … We Screen and train in school youths of 10-18 years on healthy choices program for a better future in a class of 16 participants for four weeks, a session per week trained by certified facilitators trained by CDC (Center for Disease Control). To ensure the integrity if the programe we monitor and evaluate the progress of the program and prepare monthly, quarterly and annual reports to CRS SAIDIA (Financial and narrative) … ABC – CDP has ten (10) certified facilitators trained by CRS & CDC. The ten facilitators work in pairs (a male and a female) and conduct the training of FMP and HC. CRS SAIDIA has been getting our reports on monthly, quarterly and annual basis without delay.”
So far, it has been established by PEPFAR in the Kenya Operational Plan Report FY 2012 that Catholic Relief Services was paid by PEPFAR to implement Healthy Choices II in Kenya. The Archdiocese of Nyeri, the Africa Inland Church, and the Africa brotherhood Church, all sub-partners of CRS, confirm this. However, it was necessary to establish that what is found on the internet is confirmed with eyes on the ground. So, Steve Mosher at the Population Research Institute dispatched an investigator to confirm whether or not CRS had indeed implemented Healthy Choices II as a program of PEPFAR’s SAIDIA grant.
The investigator not only confirmed what PEPFAR, Africa Inland Church, Caritas Nyeri, and Africa Brotherhood Church indicated about the implementation of Healthy Choices II, but obtained copies of the facilitator’s manuals facilitated by CRS’s sub-partner KWOSP. Furthermore, interviews with CRS-Kenya’s secretary and the regional coordinator of CRS’s sub-partner MMAAK, all confirm that Healthy Choices II was implemented under CRS’s direction. Again, please see the 56-page, fully documented report for the details obtained through the on-the-ground investigation.
Beginning in July, a PRI investigator spent two months on the ground in Kenya verifying the programs Hichborn discovered in the PEPFAR document.
On July 28th, the PRI investigator went to the CRS-Kenya office and interviewed the secretary, named Esther. The investigator reported:
“Esther told me that the projects I was interested in were under the SAIDIA umbrella … However, she could only remember Healthy Choices I and II, PMTCT and PHDP.”
Esther directed the investigator to CRS’s sub-partner, Kenya Widows and Orphans Support Program (KWOSP).
The PRI investigator met with Robert Dimba, the KWOSP program manager, who referred the investigator to two of his field officers, Martin Oloo and Cliff. On that day, they visited a school where Healthy Choices I was being implemented, but on August 4, Cliff took the investigator to another KWOSP location, where they implemented Healthy Choices II.
Cliff took the investigator to Bester High School, which is a KWOSP location where Healthy Choices II was being implemented through CRS-Kenya funds.
At Bester High School, the investigator interviewed two 16 year old students who went through the Healthy Choices II program in 2012. In the first interview, a boy named Emmanuel told the investigator that he learned about avoiding disease through either the use of abstinence or contraception. More specifically, he recalled learning about both condoms and FemiPlan pills. In the second interview, a girl named Fariya confirmed also learning about contraception through the Healthy Choices II program. She recalled being taught that they can use contraceptives to avoid pregnancy and STD’s because these were healthy choices.
After having looked at the Healthy Choices program being implemented under KWOSP, PRI sent the investigator to look at the same CRS-funded programs under the sub-partner Movement of Men Against AIDS in Kenya, or MMAAK.
On August 20, the investigator went to Buru Buru, Nairobi to visit the regional office for MMAAK. There, the investigator spoke with Philip Nyakwana, MMAAK’s regional coordinator for Nairobi. Philip told the investigator that one of the program areas funded by PEPFAR and channeled through CRS included Healthy Choices II. But then, Philip said something very interesting. He told the investigator that even though Healthy Choices II was being implemented in churches, including condom demonstrations, these were not Catholic Churches. And then, Philip said, “CRS told MMAAK not to take Healthy Choices II to any Catholic School.”
PART 2. HEALTHY CHOICES II FACILITATOR’S MANUAL
“You can tease each other sexually while putting on the condom.” – Page 196 of the Healthy Choices II Facilitator’s Manual
The facilitator’s manual for Healthy Choices II discovered by the investigator in Kenya was perfectly identical to the digital version Hichborn found online. You can see the entire facilitator’s manual by clicking here.
Out of 255 pages for the HC II manual, Condom use is mentioned 335 times on 101 pages and Contraception is mentioned 52 times on 15 pages. What follows are screen captures of various pages from the Healthy Choices II facilitator’s manual so that it can be proved that what CRS implemented was indeed a violation of Catholic moral principles.
Page 119 states that the goals and learning objectives for Module Four include increased knowledge of contraceptives and how to acquire them.
Specifically, page 119 says, “The goals of this module are to: Increase participants’ knowledge of contraceptives … After completing this module, participants will be able to: Express positive feelings toward pregnancy prevention … Identify correct information about contraceptives … Know where to seek further information about contraceptives and how to get them if needed.”
On page 140 is Activity C for Module Four of the HC2 program. The rationale for the activity states that it “focuses attention on individual responsibility for the prevention of pregnancy by using contraception.” The
materials listed for the activity are “samples of contraceptive pills, emergency contraception, and condoms.” The poster that goes along with this activity (on the right) identifies oral contraceptives, male and female condoms, an intra-uterine device and injectable contraception.
In the lesson plan printed out on page 141, instructors are directed to make sure that contraception is defined as a method to prevent pregnancy. In the section marked “Procedure,” instructors are told to “tape the pre-labelled newsprint “Contraceptives” and introduce the activity by saying, “How can an adolescent who chooses to have sex avoid getting pregnant?”
The procedure informs instructors that “answers should include: Use condoms every time he/she has sex: Use contraceptives.”
In the facilitator’s note on the same page, instructors are told, “Using contraceptives should be mentioned as one of the ways to prevent pregnancy. If it is not mentioned by participants then the facilitator should define contraceptives as methods used to prevent pregnancy.”
Page 142 directs the instructor to list abortifacient contraception, and then explain the various forms of abortifacient contraceptive drugs and devices, calling them “very effective methods to prevent pregnancy if taken as prescribed.”
Page 149 actually lies about the actions of oral contraceptives and seriously downplays the harmful effects that contraceptive drugs and devices have on women. Contrary to the known harmful effects of hormonal contraception, including damaged or reduced fertility, the manual says, “Contraceptives will only prevent you from unplanned pregnancy for the period you are using them. When you stop using them, you will be able to conceive and have a normal baby.”
One of the known actions of hormonal contraception is the prevention of the implantation of a baby to the uterine wall, which is called a pre-implantation chemical abortion. However, the HC 2 facilitator says, “Contraceptives will only prevent unplanned pregnancy but will not destroy a foetus if fertilization has already taken place.”
Page 196 has a role-playing exercise designed to encourage sexual playfulness and “fun” with regard to
condom use. The activity under which the page was written is called “Condoms Can Be Fun …” Facilitators are instructed to ask the question, “How would you complete this unfinished sentence? ‘Condoms can also be fun when having sex because …'” After writing down the responses of the adolescent students, the manual has facilitators “add the following ideas to their list if the participants did not already mention them.” Included in the list are the following:
- You can act sexy/sensual when putting condoms on.
- You can hide one on your body and ask your partner to find it.
- You can tease each other sexually while putting on the condom.
- You can tell your partner that using a condom makes a man.
- Condoms make the erection last longer.
- You can use different colors and types/textures.
- The woman puts the condom on the penis.
In the facilitator’s note at the end of the page, instructors are told to “emphasize the strategies for how to make condom use more pleasurable.” Simultaneously, and ironically, facilitators are also told to “emphasize that you are not encouraging sexual activity among teenagers.”
PART 3. THE COVER-UP
“CRS met with PEPFAR in Nairobi a few months ago and PEPFAR apologized for its error and has since corrected the report.” – CRS’s response to the information found in the original PEPFAR document
In April of 2014, Hichborn sent a detailed examination of PEPFAR’s document, Kenya Operational Plan Report FY 2012 to Archbishop Coakley. It wasn’t until November that Michael received a letter dated October 3 from Archbishop Coakley’s communication’s director. This letter was in response to a request from the Lepanto Institute, Population Research Institute and Human Life International to meet with
Archbishop Coakley in order to present to him all of the information (and more) contained in this report. Not only was this meeting refused, but all subsequent attempts to obtain meetings with Achb. Coakley and other members of CRS’s Board of Directors were refused as well. The most pertinent aspect of the response comes after the communications director indicates that Archbishop Coakley is confident that the matter regarding the PEPFAR document has been resolved. She says:
“In the Kenya Operational Plan Report FY 2012, PEPFAR suggested that CRS was involved in activities engaged in by some other PEPFAR partners (e.g. condom promotion) that are in violation of Church teaching.
This was not the case. CRS met with PEPFAR in Nairobi a few months ago and PEPFAR apologized for its error and has since corrected the report.”
Since it has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that CRS, through the PEPFAR-funded SAIDIA project, has indeed implemented the contraception-promoting program Healthy Choices 2, any alteration of the PEPFAR document that removes CRS’s involvement with Healthy Choices 2 would be a falsification, and not a “correction.” Below is a side-by-side comparison of the PEPFAR document as it appeared when it was first discovered (on the left) and as it appears now (on the right). The red lines indicate where the references to Healthy Choices 2 once appeared, and where they no longer appear.
Here are the facts:
- A PEPFAR document identified Catholic Relief Services as the recipient of funds for the purpose of implementing (among other things) a contraception-promoting program called Healthy Choices 2.
- Three of CRS’s sub-partners independently identified Healthy Choices 2 as a program they were involved in implementing, under the direction of CRS.
- The secretary for CRS Kenya identified Healthy Choices 2 as a program being implemented under CRS’s direction.
- An investigator in Kenya personally interviewed individuals from two other sub-partners of CRS, including students, all of whom identified Healthy Choices 2 as a program they implemented under CRS’s direction, confirming the contraception-promoting character of the program.
- After the PEPFAR document was brought to the attention of CRS’s highest authority, CRS contacted PEPFAR, who in turn falsified the document, removing all references to the program that CRS undeniably implemented with PEPFAR funds. While we do not know what was said during the conversation CRS had with PEPFAR, the facts all suggest that CRS collaborated with PEPFAR to falsify the record in order to hide from the bishops and the lay faithful, whom they serve, CRS’s involvement in the promotion of contraception.
The implications of a cover-up of this magnitude are severe. If CRS has the influence and the will to enlist the help of a government agency to falsify government documents in order to hide the truth, then how can CRS be trusted to conduct ANY internal review? If CRS is engaged in an active cover-up to hide this program from the bishops and lay faithful, what else is CRS hiding? And if CRS if willing and able to cover up programs like Healthy Choices 2, then how many of the previous concerns raised against CRS in the last several years were covered up as well?
Please examine the documents carefully, read the full report and draw your own conclusions. But if the evidence leads you to conclude that CRS is engaged in an active cover-up to hide contraception-promoting programs which it is facilitating and implementing, please send your concerns to your local bishop, to the board members of CRS, and to CRS’s leadership as well.
Click here for a sample letter you can use to voice your concerns.
The president of CRS is Dr. Carolyn Woo:
228 W. Lexington St. Baltimore, Maryland 21201-3443 | 877-435-7277 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishops on CRS’s Board of Directors
Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley (Chair)
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
7501 NW Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73132
Most Rev. Edward J. Burns
Bishop of Juneau (AK)
415 6th St # 300
Juneau, AK 99801
Most Rev. William P. Callahan, OFM Conv.
Bishop of LaCrosse (WI)
P.O. Box 4004
La Crosse, WI 54602-4004
Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone
Bishop of Saginaw (MI)
5800 Weiss St.
Saginaw, MI 48603
Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice (FL)
1000 Pinebrook Road
Venice, Florida 34285
Most Rev. Felipe Estévez
Bishop of St. Augustine (FL)
11625 Old St. Augustine Road
Jacksonville, FL 32258
Rev. Msgr. Ronny Jenkins (Secretary)
General Secretary, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street NE
Washington DC 20017
Most Rev. George J. Lucas
Archbishop of Omaha (NE)
3330 N 60th St
Omaha, NE 68104
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
795 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
Most Rev. Gregory J. Mansour
Bishop of Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn
109 Remsen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Ft. Wayne-South Bend (IN)
915 South Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli
Bishop of Paterson (NJ)
777 Valley Rd
Clifton, NJ 07013
Most Rev. Thomas Wenski
Archbishop of Miami
9401 Biscayne Blvd
Miami Shores, FL 33138