Roman Catholic doctrine condemns deliberate abortion as a mortal sin in all cases and imposes automatic excommunication upon anyone who obtains one or knowingly helps someone else do so. The excommunication usually can be lifted by ordinary confession and appropriate penance.
The church also teaches that knowingly using contraception is a mortal sin, although it does not incur automatic excommunication. Moreover, the church objects to some methods of contraception - those that prevent a fertilized embryo from implanting in the uterus - as forms of abortion.
“Some members of the MRS staff were not sufficiently aware of church teaching and [USCCB] policy regarding these matters to take stronger and more appropriate actions,” Bishops DiLorenzo, Wester and Driscoll said in a letter to their peers.
“This incident is a most regrettable stain on the record of excellence in the work both of MRS and of Catholic Charities,” they said.
CCR is a member of Catholic Charities USA, a social service network serving 8 million people. Based in Alexandria, Catholic Charities USA receives 65 percent of its $3.6 billion annual budget from contracts - such as refugee services - with the federal government.
In a statement released Monday, the agency blamed Bishop DiLorenzo for the incident, noting that CCR is incorporated under the leadership of the Richmond Diocese and that the bishop serves on CCR’s board.
Officials for the diocese, the Catholic bishops and their agencies declined multiple requests for comment.
The bishops’ letter said all MRS staff will receive training on “the primacy of Catholic teachings and beliefs as they impact their work or professional ethics … to assure that such unacceptable incidents never happen again.”