A conservative pro-life organization issued a lengthy report Wednesday claiming a Catholic charity is being unfaithful to the church’s teachings by funding groups that promote birth control.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) gave $64.6 million, or 86 percent of its domestic grants for fiscal 2012, to organizations that “directly subvert Catholic moral teaching,” the American Life League (ALL) said in its 248-page report.
These grants included $13.8 million to CARE International, $13.1 million to Save the Children and $11.7 million to the Institute of Human Virology.
ALL said these and other grantees promote, distribute or provide condoms, sterilizations, or other forms of birth control in contravention of the Catholic teaching that contraception is always immoral. Some grantees are actively seeking to raise “contraceptive prevalence rates” in the countries they serve, ALL said.
“Our whole goal is for Catholic Relief Services to stop funding the enemies of Christ. It’s that simple. That’s really all we’re asking,” said Michael Hichborn, director of Defend the Faith project at ALL.
The ALL report mostly details those other groups’ involvements with contraception rather than attempting to tie CRS money directly to those efforts. But ALL says this distinction does not matter because “the implied endorsement created by CRS partnerships with these organizations is gravely scandalous.”
CRS, the 70-year-old overseas humanitarian agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), didn’t immediately respond to Wednesday’s report, but it has recently defended itself against “recent, unrelenting attacks.”
The funding for CARE, for instance, “must be used for a specific project and has strict restrictions on its use … It could not, in any way, be used for family planning,” Jim Stipe, a communications officials for CRS, wrote earlier this year.
CRS is “resolute” in its commitment to the Church and its teachings, CRS added. When associations offer programs that run counter to Church teachings, “we do not participate.”
Members of the USCCB, including its president, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, held a press conference Monday to vouched for the CRS. Its faithful Catholic service around the world “makes us all proud,” the bishops said, adding that those making public critiques “do not speak for the Catholic Church.”
On Wednesday, Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, dismissed ALL and its new report as “an embarrassment even to those who toe the church hierarchy’s line.”
“ALL’s attempt at research merely exposes that the CRS is a charity working with other development agencies that may or may not share conservative Catholic teachings,” Mr. O’Brien said.
The ALL report says that although ALL leaders met with CRS officials, all of their “grave concerns” were “routinely dismissed.” This prompted them to release their report.
Mr. Hichborn said Wednesday that Pope Francis warned in his first homily that the Catholic Church should not act like a secular nongovernmental organization (NGO). The pontiff said in May, “We can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ.”
“I think that really sets the tone for what it means to be a charitable organization that belongs to the Church,” Mr. Hichborn said.