On 2 May, the Lepanto Institute published an article titled, CRS: A Tale of Two Letters. In this article, the Lepanto Institute raised grave concerns over a joint letter signed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), because the letter requested that Congress provide vast amounts of money to two agencies (USAID and PEPFAR) which are committed to the distribution of abortifacient contraception and condoms. What follows is an analysis of the responses received from two USCCB officials which directly admit that our concerns are real, but then deny that there is any problem.
Following the publication of this article, two of our readers contacted the USCCB’s director for the Office of International Justice and Peace, Dr. Stephen Colecchi, and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (current president of the USCCB), respectively. While most of Archbishop Kurtz’s response contains the exact same wording found in Dr. Colecchi’s correspondences, which we’ll discuss toward the end of this article, the responses from both Abp. Kurtz and Dr. Colecchi:
- Express great support for PEPFAR by constantly repeating the mantra that “PEPFAR saves lives”
- Deny that the concerns expressed in our article are accurate
- Confuse matters by divorcing the phrases “reproductive health” and “contraception” from the word “condoms”
- Utilize misdirection and misleading statements, and
- Hide the admission, under mountainous platitudes, that PEPFAR indeed distributes condoms and USAID’s HIV programs indeed dispense and promote abortifacient contraception.
We sent the following email to Dr. Colecchi on 6 June, asking him to clarify the matter by 14 June, 5PM, EST. No response was received.
Dear Dr. Colecchi:
A supporter recently contacted me regarding an email exchange she had with you about the joint letter sent this past February by CRS and the USCCB to Congress requesting $330 million for USAID and $5.67 billion for PEPFAR. In the exchange, she asked several specific questions that seem to have gone unanswered. I’m sure it was an oversight.
She asked several times whether the money requested for USAID would go to contraception and condom promoting and distributing programs, but you only ever addressed it once saying that “USAID does have some funding streams that fund such ‘services.’ [meaning reproductive health, contraception, etc.] We do NOT support them.” That really didn’t answer her question.
She also asked several times whether the money requested by congress for PEPFAR would be used for either the distribution or the promotion of condoms beyond the conscience protection clauses for Catholic institutions. Your answers never quite addressed that question directly, either.
I believe her question was fairly clear, and certainly deserves a clear answer. I intend to write about this, but I want to make sure that you have an opportunity to clear up the matter before I do. Here is the question at hand:
Can the USCCB and CRS assure Catholics that NONE of that $330 million for USAID and the $5.67 billion for PREFAR, requested by both CRS and the USCCB, will be used for programs that either distribute or facilitate the distribution of, or in any way promote, any form of artificial birth control, including condoms? If so, what are those assurances?
My deadline is June 14, 5:00 PM EST.
President, Lepanto Institute
In the correspondence between our supporter and Dr. Colecchi (pasted at the end of this article), one can clearly see that Dr. Colecchi avoids answering the question directly, however in two separate responses, he does confirm that USAID indeed distributes and promotes condoms and contraception, and that PEPFAR does indeed distribute condoms.
Let us remind our readers why the letter from CRS and the USCCB was so upsetting. The joint letter asked Congress to provide $330 million to USAID and $5.67 billion to PEPFAR … YOUR money; CATHOLIC money … to two agencies that spend vast amounts of energy and resources to combat poverty and disease by eliminating children from the picture through abortifacient contraception and condoms.
In Dr. Colecchi’s email corresponsence, he is insistent that PEPFAR saves lives, that PEPFAR has conscience protections so CRS doesn’t have to distribute condoms, and that the funding PEPFAR receives “cannot be used for reproductive health or abortifacient services at all.” Unless Dr. Colecchi believes that condoms do not fall under “reproductive health,” this last statement is untrue as Dr. Colecchi himself admits in two different emails that PEPFAR does distribute condoms.
Even if PEPFAR does save lives, what good is saving someone’s life by poisoning their soul?
In his email from 10 May, Dr. Colecchi admits that PEPFAR programs include condoms:
“In terms of condom distribution, PEPFAR does support ABC [Abstinence, Be faithful, use a Condom], but it includes a ‘conscience exemption’ that allows Church agencies to use PEPFAR resources for treatment, care, abstinence and behavior change without having to distribute or promote condom use. PEPFAR saves many lives.”
Because the concern isn’t about whether Catholic agencies can participate in PEPFAR programs, the statement about the exemption is a red herring. The real concern is that CRS and USCCB both asked Congress to fund PEPFAR, which will use that money to distribute and promote condoms. Dr. Colecchi just confirmed this concern.
In an email from 27 May, Dr. Colecchi again admits that PEPFAR distributes and promotes condoms. Note carefully how he makes a distinction between condoms and “artificial contraception”:
PEPFAR does not promote other ‘artificial contraception.’ It does allow, but not require, distribution of condoms for disease prevention. Catholic institutions do not distribute or promote condoms, even when they get PEPFAR funds. And we must remember that PEPFAR saves millions of lives without taking any.
Once more, Dr. Colecchi confirms that at least some of the $5.67 billion CRS and the USCCB requested of Congress for PEPFAR will be used for the promotion and distribution of condoms.
While Dr. Colecchi admits that “USAID does have some funding streams that fund such ‘services [reproductive health or abortifacient services],’ ” he then claims “We do NOT support them.” Since he subsequently refused to address any questions regarding USAID, it’s hard to tell if he meant that they don’t support USAID’s funding streams for reproductive health or abortifacient services in general, or if he meant that CRS and USCCB’s request for congress to provide funding for USAID did not include such programs. If his claim that “we do NOT support them” was meant in a general, philosophical sense, then his answer is extremely misleading. If he was saying that the requested funds for USAID did not include contraception promoting programs, then what he said is demonstrably false.
What we know for sure about PEPFAR is that the promotion of condoms is not a small part of what PEPFAR does. Additionally, we know that USAID’s HIV/AIDS programs are saturated with condoms and abortifacient contraception. In fact, Dr. Colecchi’s denial that PEPFAR promotes abortifacient contraception is completely false. While PEPFAR may not be allowed to directly distribute abortifacient contraception, its programs not only encourage and promote the use of artificial contraception, but PEPFAR usually works with USAID for the distribution of contraception in the same program, but without PEPFAR funds.
Here are a few, brief examples.
On USAID’s website, under HIV/AIDS programming, USAID makes it very clear that it works with PEPFAR on the distribution of condoms, specifically for HIV/AIDS programs. Under the headline, “Addressing Condom Supply and Demand in PEPFAR Programs,” USAID says:
USAID centrally finances male and female condoms and lubricants for nonfocus U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) countries.
Under “Condom Emergency Funds,” USAID says:
In order to address condom stock-outs in the short-term, PEPFAR has set aside funds through USAID for a “Condom Emergency Fund” to support emergency procurements of male and female condoms in former PEPFAR focus countries. Emergency condom needs generally include pending condom stock-outs or shortages caused by failure or delay in another donor supplying condoms, inadequate in-country funding, an unanticipated spike in demand and various failures of the country supply chain system to adequately forecast and supply condoms. When one of these situations occurs, PEPFAR countries can access rapidly expedited orders of condoms through the Condom Emergency Fund for focus countries or the Commodity Fund for nonfocus countries.
Here’s another one. USAID’s page with the title, “Family Planning and HIV and AIDS (FP/HIV) Integration Compliance,” USAID says:
PEPFAR funds are often used to incorporate and integrate other health services, including family planning. Linkages that directly serve PEPFAR priority populations by supporting the prevention, treatment, or care of HIV and AIDS, and are aligned with other PEPFAR guidance, should be prioritized.
When you are conducting FP/HIV integrated activities, you must consider the legal and policy requirements that apply to both family planning and HIV and AIDS activities. PEPFAR’s FP/HIV programs are guided by the principles of voluntarism and informed choice. Under these principles:
- The decision to use or not to use family planning should be free of any discrimination, stigma, coercion, duress, or deceit and informed by accurate, comprehensible information, and access to a variety of contraceptive methods.
Clearly, USAID and PEPFAR are collaborating on the distribution of condoms specifically for HIV and AIDS programs, and the focus on condoms is not insignificant or incidental. In Dr. Colecchi’s correspondence, he makes the following claims:
- “PEPFAR and HIV programs cannot fund reproductive health services”
- “PEPFAR funding cannot be used for reproductive health or abortifacient services at all.”
- “Since PEFPFAR does not include funding for reproductive health “services” or anything that could be abortifacient”
- “PEPFAR does not promote other “artificial contraception.”
- “None of the funds supported in the chart that accompanied the second letter include reproductive health services.”
Dr. Colecchi has already admitted that PEPFAR distributes and promotes condoms, so we can see how he divorces condom promotion and distribution from “reproductive health services” and “contraception.” This misdirection is most exemplified in his email exchange, wherein he was asked:
Can you … tell us with certainty that NONE of that $330 million for USAID and the $5.67 billion for PREFAR, requested by both CRS and the USCCB, will be used for contraception or other forms of artificial birth control?
Addressing ONLY PEPFAR, and not USAID, Dr. Colecchi explicitely disconnects condoms from “artificial contraception.” He responded:
PEPFAR does not promote other “artificial contraception.” It does allow, but not require, distribution of condoms for disease prevention.
But even if we were to allow for Dr. Colecchi’s division in terms, PEPFAR’s own policy documents firmly disagree with Dr. Colecchi on all counts. A PEPFAR strategy brief under the title, “Integration and Coordination: Women’s Health,” states plainly and clearly how PEPFAR programs are facilitating access to “reproductive health services” and “artificial contraception,” which just happens to also be abortifacient:
As part of GHI [Global Health Initiative], PEPFAR will work with countries to create comprehensive access to health services for HIV-positive women, including the following:
- Linking commodity management efforts to create secure supply chains and ensure PEPFAR service sites have reliable sources of medications, contraceptives, and commodities;
- Co-location of reproductive health care and HIV services;
- Expansion of health care worker training to ensure that clinic personnel are able to provide quality reproductive health, HIV and primary care services; and
- Integration of HIV prevention and education messaging into family planning counseling and other reproductive health
In November of 2012, PEPFAR created a document titled, “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation.” On page 17 of this document, PEPFAR indicates what it is currently doing and what it will continue to do under “Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission” (PMTCT) programs, making it very clear that facilitating access to contraception is included in these efforts. Specifically, PEPFAR explains how it partners with USAID in order to facilitate the distribution of contraception without directly funding it:
Support women living with HIV to make informed decisions about their future reproductive life, with special attention to preventing unintended pregnancies. Specifically, PEPFAR will:
- Continue to leverage support for family-planning commodities (including long-acting reversible contraceptives) purchased by USAID and other partners to ensure that facilities offering PMTCT also offer voluntary comprehensive family planning services to all women, regardless of their HIV status. Referral to facilities offering voluntary family planning will be established wherever direct integration of PEPFAR-supported PMTCT services and family planning services that are supported by other partners is not possible.
So, technically, Dr. Colecchi is correct in saying that “PEPFAR funding cannot be used for reproductive health or abortifacient services at all” only if you take this to mean that PEPFAR is not directly funding the distribution of such things. However, what he is omitting is the fact that PEPFAR works around this restriction by collaborating with other agencies that do these things, and so PEPFAR enacts a referral system. Dr. Colecchi’s statement that “PEPFAR does not promote other ‘artificial contraception’,” however, is demonstrably false. Clearly, PEPFAR is absolutely promoting artificial contraception through its work with USAID.
On page 35 of this document, PEPFAR explicitly states that its programs are currently promoting contraception through referrals and will continue to do so. In discussing PEPFAR’s efforts to “focus on Women, Girls, and Gender Equality,” PEPFAR states that it is doing and will continue to:
iii. Ensure access to contraceptive commodities for HIV-positive clients who wish to delay or prevent pregnancy
Just to show that this is something that is taking place in practice, and not just in concept, here are two examples of how PEPFAR is incorporating contraception into its programs. In the Country Operational Plan for Fiscal Year 2014 for Cambodia, PEPFAR identified its primary focus in Cambodia. On page 6, PEPFAR states:
PEPFAR Focus in FY 2014 Key Priorities In light of the epidemiological priorities and contextual factors described above, the FY 2014 PEPFAR program will provide technical assistance and support program implementation in the following priority areas:
Promoting “condom plus” (dual protection from HIV infection and unplanned pregnancies) and increasing access of female entertainment workers and other vulnerable populations to an array of contraceptive methods by integrating family planning/reproductive health services into HIV-related services for entertainment workers and other high-risk women through outreach as well as at antenatal clinics, methadone maintenance sites, and adult HIV/AIDS care and treatment clinics;
In PEPFAR’s 2013 Operational Plan Report for Ethiopia, PEPFAR explains how it worked with USAID in rolling out something called the “Integrated Pharmaceutical Logistics Management System.” According to this PEPFAR document, PEPFAR helped to fold in “various program supply lines into one for TB, Malaria, HIV, contraceptives, and essential medicines.” On page 53, PEPFAR says:
PEPFAR, together with the USAID health team, rolled out the Integrated Pharmaceutical Logistics Management System to more than 1,000 sites. Transitioning activities include PFSA fully paying for storage and clearance of PEPFAR-procured commodities and assuming responsibility for forecasting of HIV/AIDS commodities. COP 2012/13 will further identify possible activities that can be transitioned to PFSA and FMHACA. PEPFAR will continue assisting PFSA with strengthening the warehousing and distribution network by outfitting new warehouses constructed under USAID construction agreements. In line with GHI principles, PEPFAR will assist PFSA in folding various program supply lines into one for TB, Malaria, HIV, contraceptives, and essential medicines.
We have in our possession dozens of documents from both USAID and PEPFAR showing that the distribution of condoms and the promotion (and in the case of USAID, the dispensing of) abortifacient contraception are the norm for these agencies. Once again, the serious issue the Lepanto Institute and faithful Catholics across the country have with the joint-letter signed by USCCB and CRS asking Congress to fund USAID and PEPFAR is that there is no way for this request to exclude the promotion and distribution of contraception. For USAID and PEPFAR, condoms and contraception are a part of the overall package. In truth, CRS and USCCB may as well have asked the Federal Government to fund the American Birth Control League (Planned Parenthood, before it started performing abortions).
Now, to address one last matter. In the beginning of the article, we indicated that Abp. Kurtz’s letter contains some of the exact same wording as Dr. Colecchi’s email correspondence. This strongly suggests that Dr. Colecchi had a part in crafting Abp. Kurtz’s letter, which also suggests that Abp. Kurtz was given extraordinarily bad advice about PEPFAR and USAID. Below is a copy of Abp. Kurtz’s letter, followed by the email exchange with Dr. Colecchi. We have highlighted and color coordinated key portions of both the letter and the email exchange, where the wording exactly corresponds.
All said, what is abundantly clear is that there is a personnel problem at the USCCB and CRS. They both clearly have a blind spot where contraception is concerned. It is time for the USCCB to clean house.
Letter from Abp. Kurtz:
Email correspondence between Dr. Colecchi and “Mrs. X”:
International Justice and Peace
To Whom it May Concern:
Please read the following information from the Lepanto Institute [regarding the joint letter signed by the USCCB and CRS]. As a Catholic, I have been trying for years to have the “Catholic” Relief Service removed from any donation process within the Church. To this end, I have met with repeated resistance, along with quite a bit of criticism. Please make it a priority to remove this wretched organization from Catholic donation rolls.
Thank you for your help. God bless.
Dear Mrs. X,
Thank you for your expression of concern. Unfortunately, I believe you have been misled.
Catholic Relief Services, an organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a pro-life organization dedicated to preserving the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. In the Federal budget and appropriations process, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) support U.S. Government funding for life-saving poverty-focused international accounts. These funds help the poorest people in the poorest countries to survive and indeed to thrive.
Initiated by President Bush, the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), is one of the most effective poverty-focused international programs. PEPFAR focuses on mitigating the impact of HIV and has saved millions of lives. From the inception of PEPFAR, CRS and USCCB have advocated consistently for Catholic and other faith-based organizations to be able to operate within our principles in carrying out this program. The earlier letter cited in the article that you may have read requested that Congress mandate that PEPFAR respect our faith values. This was done. The later letter simply focused on funding since PEPFAR already incorporates the protections we had requested and won earlier. With PEPFAR funds, CRS efforts have contributed to saving hundreds of thousands of lives in countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. In all its work, CRS embodies its Gospel mission and Catholic moral teaching, and neither promotes, distributes nor provides artificial contraception.
May 6, 2016
Dear Dr. Colecchi:
Thank you for your very timely response to my email of May 2, 2016.
I would like to ask for your reasoning surrounding the statement that you feel I have been “mislead.” I have sent you detailed information from Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute, accusing Catholic Relieve Services (CRS) of violating several Catholic tenets over a span of many years. This is not the first time CRS has been accused of misuse of Catholic funds directly involving abortion and contraception.
If the information published by Lepanto Institute is not correct, then I feel that the Catholic community must be provided with the facts of the situation so that it may be successfully resolved. Would you not agree? We must be provided with detailed answers so that we can go forward knowing our donations do not violate our faith. If CRS is in fact the organization you claim it to be, I will do all in my power to correct any misconceptions, but this cannot happen by a pure dismissal of the accusations. Facts must be provided on each and every denial. I look forward to your response.
Thank you once again for your time. God bless.
Dear Mrs. X ,
I am sorry that you did not find my response sufficiently clear. Since you took the time to follow up, I will try to expand on my answer, but this will be a bit short as I am traveling and doing this on my telephone.
The Lepanto Institute is comparing apples and oranges in its “Tale of Two Letters.” The first letter was written as Congress was addressing PEPFAR authorizing language which determines the shape and policy of the program. CRS and USCCB were successful in removing reproductive health goals from the program and even in securing a conscience clause so that no provider of life-saving prevention, treatment or care related to HIV would be required to distribute condoms for so-called prevention purposes. This allows CRS and many other Church agencies around the world to save lives without compromising their principles.
The second letter did not mention these issues because the PEPFAR and HIV programs cannot fund reproductive health services and the conscience provision remains in place. The PEPFAR program enjoys broad and deep bipartisan support because it has literally saved millions of lives.
The Church in many countries relies on PEPFAR support. I should also mention that none of the funds supported in the chart that accompanied the second letter include reproductive health services. Those services are in another foreign aid account which we do not in any way support.
I hope this additional information is helpful.
God bless you for your concern.
Dear Dr. Colecchi:
First let me commend your tenacity in writing on your cell phone, I appreciate your efforts, as I have not located even one grammatical or spelling error! I have often noted that my first reaction to this impossible process should be to go to Confession. Especially with the “auto correct” feature-I am afraid I am overcome with hatred whenever I am away from my laptop and the need arises to press the phone into such use.
I read your response, and if my understanding is correct, in the USCCB’s and CRS’ 2008 request, specific language was used in a joint letter to US House of Representatives to delete all references to “reproductive health” and “family planning services” in both USAID and PEPFAR. The impressive language of this request indicated an unwillingness to co-operate with any family planning (ABC) or abortion procedures and products. My understanding also is that this provision succeeded with the former, however PEPFAR has always included condom use (unspecified goals) per the Lepanto information. I see no follow-up indication that condoms must be used for prevention (of HIV) only.
Lepanto has also indicated that the second letter from the USCCB and CRS did not include such language. Keep in mind, that PEPFAR already violated the language of the original letter, along with the spirit of your agreement by condom distribution. But your answer to me is that there was no need to again specify the removal of these services because these agencies “cannot fund reproductive health services and the conscience provision remains in place.” Would not this agreement, in place as you state, preclude the wide distribution of condoms for which PEPFAR already ignored? Common sense at this point would dictate a direct and immediate strengthening of the 2008 agreement. Yet, that did not happen.
The Lepanto report then presents rock-solid evidence that the original agreement is no longer in place, and apparently not an issue for either of these programs, or evidently the Catholic Church. Shortly before the latest CRS’ request for funding from Congress, USAID celebrated World Contraception Day, 2015! Yet CRS request was for hundreds of millions of dollars! The illustration in the Lepanto report shows the narrative on the bottom, left side “Family Planning.” There is no disclaimer that condoms are to be used solely for HIV prevention. And, it gets more shocking. On their graphic heading is the following: Demand for Family Planning Satisfied by Modern Contraceptive Methods in USAID’s Family Planning Priority Countries. The graph goes on to list 24 family planning priority countries. Lepanto also claims (I have not seen this myself) that USAID touts the fact that they “are the world’s largest family planning bilateral donor” with the goal of helping to achieve “Family Planning 2020’s goal to reach 120 million more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries…” Lepanto’s evidence with graphs goes on and on to the point of my inability to understand how I have been “misled,” and I take no enjoyment in this end.
In 2015, PEPFAR’s Scientific Advisory Board proposed: hormonal implants long acting reversible contraceptives which include IUDs and rings (often abortifacients), and condom education. In conclusion, short of making up the schematics used in the report, and then grafting them into what is indistinguishable from PEPFAR’s logos and letterheads, this report is incongruent with logical rejection of the facts, in my opinion. It is my conclusion that both of these organizations are at the very least, deeply steeped in condom distribution and most-likely abortion. I hope I am making a huge mistake, so again I ask for your help.
Dr. Colecchi, shortly after we close our eyes for the last time, Jesus will appear to us, Face to face. It does not matter one iota if you do not believe in the particular judgment, He will be there. I can only speak for myself in saying that to tell Him that it was easier to offend Him than to offend the society in which we live will not be the best argument. If I have made mistakes, I don’t think He will send me to Hell for being stupid. If I have placed false gods before Him, well-I’m not willing to take that chance. Hence, my appeal to you to do whatever it takes to get Catholicism out of this despicable dependence on cultures and values that contradict our tenets. Not because I said so, but because He said so. May God bless you, and if I have made any glaring errors in my deduction, please share this with me.
I ask that God be with you in all you do.
Dear Mrs. X,
I appreciate you taking the time to respond again. PEPFAR funding cannot be used for reproductive health or abortifacient services at all. USAID does have some funding streams that fund such “services.” We do NOT support them. In terms of condom distribution, PEPFAR does support ABC, but it includes a “conscience exemption” that allows Church agencies to use PEPFAR resources for treatment, care, abstinence and behavior change without having to distribute or promote condom use. PEPFAR saves many lives. Since PEFPFAR does not include funding for reproductive health “services” or anything that could be abortifacient, USCCB and CRS support its life saving mission without in any way associating with activities not in accord with Church teaching. For the Church, it is a life issue. I look forward to the day when I stand before the Lord and he asks what the Church did to save lives.
Dear Mrs. X,
I had another thought that might be interesting to you, given your intense interest in the Church’s work on HIV/AIDS. You might find this statement by the Holy See helpful to understanding the Church’s approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its willingness to collaborate with other organizations, including the Global Fund (which is similar to PEPFAR). You will note that the Holy See specifically cites Catholic Relief Services.
Here’s a link to the statement: https://zenit.org/articles/the-church-s-response-to-aids/
I hope you find this additional information helpful.
In Christ’s Peace,
Hello Dr. Colecchi,
I am sorry for the delay in replying to your email from May 10th, but I too have been traveling and have been for the most part “off line.”
You have said that USAID “does have some funding streams that fund such ‘services.’ We do NOT support them.” But the letter from CRS and the USCCB clearly asked Congress to provide $330 million for USAID’s HIV/AIDS programs, and according to Lepanto, USAID’s HIV/AIDS programs include the promotion of artificial contraception and condoms. How can you have absolute certainty (which is what Catholicism would require) that none of the $330 million requested of Congress by CRS and the USCCB will be used to facilitate the distribution or promotion of condoms and other forms of artificial contraception? In all the literature they dispense, they claim this is the case.
Also, I ask your indulgence as the argument presented regarding PEPFAR is confusing to me. I did not ask how CRS uses PEPFAR funds, but I inquired about the $5.67 billion in funding CRS and the USCCB requested that Congress provide to PEPFAR. While you admit that PEPFAR does promote and distribute condoms, you then site the conscience exemption afforded to Church agencies. In that case, the monies requested should be used only for abstinence-only programs, and I do not believe, looking at their promotions that this could be the case.
Here is what I understand from the information I received from Lepanto, with whom I have also posed difficult questions:
CRS and the USCCB asked Congress to provide money-money from me and other good Catholics-to agencies that provide gravely immoral and prohibited programs without qualification, regardless of the goodness others feel they are furnishing. The question for all Catholics now becomes: Can you, Dr. Colecchi, as a good and practicing Catholic tell us with certainty that NONE of that $330 million for USAID and the $5.67 billion for PREFAR, requested by both CRS and the USCCB, will be used for contraception or other forms of artificial birth control? I would really like a direct answer to that question.
A theologian (Priest) I admire greatly once told us in Bible Study that most Christians and particularly Catholics have an incorrect interpretation to Jesus’s story of the well to do man who sought to follow Him. Jesus instructs him to give up all his possessions and his family and follow Him just as he is-without even a change of clothes. Many have said that because the man had many possessions, he was sad and decided not to follow, and that the point of the story was that it is very difficult for the rich to enter Heaven. He told us that while this may be true in some instances, the moral of this story is the fact that the young man did not trust his future to Jesus-he was afraid to trust in His Word, and this was the troubling factor to Jesus. Whenever we purge Jesus’ will because we feel our intended outcome will be better than the instructions He gave us, we are always making a terrible error. May all of us trust in the Word Jesus has provided to us, His poor, easily-confused sheep. If we keep His Word, everything-including the world’s underprivileged poor will fall into place.
May God help you in your path, and I will await your answer.
The information you have is wrong. PEPFAR does not promote other “artificial contraception.” It does allow, but not require, distribution of condoms for disease prevention. Catholic institutions do not distribute or promote condoms, even when the get PEPFAR funds. And we must remember that PEPFAR saves millions of lives without taking any.
Dr. Stephen M. Colecchi, Director
Dear Dr. Colecchi,
In our last correspondence, I asked about both USAID and PEPFAR, but you only replied about PEPFAR. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding to my question. If so, I will keep this email short. This really is a yes or no question … Can you assure me, and all other Catholic contributors to CRS, that NONE of that $330 million for USAID and the $5.67 billion for PEPFAR, requested by both CRS and the USCCB, will be used for programs that either distribute or facilitate the distribution of, or in any way promote, any and all forms of artificial birth control, including condoms?
Thanks for your continued help with this matter,