July 25, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic Relief Services (CRS), “the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” is vociferously defending its 2010 grant of $5.3 million to CARE. LifeSiteNews reported July 17 that CARE is a major advocate of contraception and indeed also of legal abortion. The CRS strategy of persistent denial of obvious serious problems regarding its aid partner is not what one would expect from a Catholic agency.
To date, CRS has produced three press releases and a high volume of tweets and emails defending the grant despite the oddity of the Bishops simultaneously fighting the Obama contraceptive mandate.
In the first of the releases, CRS implied that the donation was approved by well-respected theologian Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Centre. However upon closer inspection, Dr. Haas’ assessment of the situation was submitted only this year on January 12, 2012 - not at all prior to the 2010 grant.
Moreover, as LSN reported, Dr. Haas’ assessment of the grant was very negative. He told CRS about their donating to CARE: “In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.”
Beyond this LifeSiteNews has found that the CRS donation to CARE during 2008 and 2009 totaled an additional $3+ million. (2008: $1,802,709 and 2009: $1,399,534)
CRS has taken to rather petty criticisms of LifeSiteNews’ report. For instance in one headline: “John Haas Refutes July 24 LifeSite News Headline: He Did NOT Advise Catholic Relief Services Not To Fund CARE.” Did Dr. Haas object to our original headline? Yes, but in his polite note, he added that “you quoted me correctly in the article.”
What was the original headline? John Haas: I advised Catholic Relief Services NOT to fund CARE
And naturally we were happy to comply with Dr. Haas’ wish that it be changed. It was changed to: John Haas warned Catholic Relief Services “scandal would be unavoidable” with grant to CARE
In his email to LifeSiteNews Dr. Haas explained the reason for the desired change: “I don’t urge our ‘clients’ to do or not do anything. We give them our opinion as to whether the contemplated action would be moral or immoral. Our task is to do the moral analysis and share it with those in positions of authority who make the decisions and have to assume responsibility for them.”
Various Catholic publications issued reports based on the CRS release defending their massive donation to CARE. Even the Baltimore Sun reported on it.
The gang over at the gay-marriage-endorsing National Catholic Reporter are hopping mad at LifeSiteNews. Michael Sean Winters writes on his NCR blog: “The parallel magisterium over at LifeSiteNews has taken exception to Catholic Relief Services.”
Winters calls the LifeSiteNews reports “obscene” and “witch hunts” and our writers he refers to as “self-appointed zealots.”
One question many are likely asking is, if the head of CARE is so militantly pro-contraception and pro-abortion, what other negative CARE activities take place that the public is not aware of?
Well, they, like NCR differ on the Christian position on homosexuality. On page 38 of another CARE document, they write: page 40: “Homosexuality is not an illness. Simply put, homosexuality is primary sexual attraction to or sexual activity among persons of the same sex. Homosexuality may make us feel uncomfortable because it’s not something we see all the time. But the fact that it is uncommon does not mean that it is wrong. Homosexuals can have healthy, loving relationships just like anyone else.”
Another question that many Catholics are probably still asking, regardless of the opinions on the CRS/CARE controversy, is this: Are there not other agencies, not requiring such ethical gymnastics to justify continued funding, that these millions of dollars of Catholic money should be going to?
See the National Catholic Bioethics Centre response to this controversy, especially paragraphs 11 and 12.
Unfortunately, since CRS remains determined to spin the news rather than handle the matter in a straightforward way, LifeSiteNews will continue to investigate and report on it’s problematic activities. And sadly, they don’t end with CARE.