February 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. Catholic bishops' agency for international assistance, has posted a response to LifeSiteNews.com's (LSN) recent article revealing the agency's funding of two pro-abortion organizations in Mexico.
The statement, published on February 22, follows an earlier one published on January 1, stating that the organization is "pro-life" and lamenting that it is the "target of a coordinated series of attacks" which "attempt to cause division in the Body of Christ."
The January 1 statement had offered the organization's responses to a series of exposés published by LSN and others showing CRS's partnership with pro-abortion groups, sponsorship of pro-contraceptive propaganda, membership in the pro-contraception group CORE, reception of tens of millions of dollars from the strongly pro-contraceptive William and Melinda Gates Foundation, and employment of personnel with anti-life viewpoints. It has been placed at the top of CRS's main webpage as well as many other pages on the site.
CRS has closed both of its statements to comments, as it has done since mid-2012 when responding to LSN exposés and other pro-life critiques of the organization's work.
In its newest statement, dated February 22, CRS admits that it had learned in 2009 about the signatures of two of its partners, the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (FRAYBA), and the Center for Reflection and Action on Labor Issues (CEREAL), on a United Nations "human rights" report that in part defends the depenalization of abortion. However, it adds, "at that time CRS staff investigated the situation and received written assurances from both organizations categorically stating that they neither advocate for nor condone abortion in any way."
In the statement CRS did not address evidence presented by LSN that one or both of the organizations have also opposed right-to-life state constitutional amendments, promoted the depenalization of abortion, and advocated the provision of abortion by the government.
CRS goes on to claim, “Because of our commitment to uphold the teaching of the Church, in recent weeks (before an article about this issue was posted by LifeSiteNews on February 20th) we have been working with the Jesuit Province of Mexico and the Mexican Bishops’ Conference to ensure that our partnership with CEREAL, a Jesuit organization, does not violate Church teaching." It claims that it ceased its partnership with FRAYBA in 2011.
The organization began its investigation into CEREAL following a LifeSiteNews.com inquiry about the group made in late December of last year.
CRS's statement is similar to an an email sent to this agency in late December in response to questioning about FRAYBA and CEREAL, and leaves several questions unanswered.
Although the organization also claimed in December that its partnership with FRAYBA had ended in 2011, CRS spokesman John Rivera refused to explain why the organization was still listed as a partner on its Mexico partner's page. He also would not state whether CRS continued to have some relationship with FRAYBA, or if it has a relationship with other pro-abortion groups, such as the All Rights for Everyone Human Rights Network (TDT), of which FRAYBA is a member.
However, following publication of LifeSiteNews.com's recent exposé on the two groups on February 20, CRS removed the donor page listing both FRAYBA and CEREAL. A copy of the original page can be found here.
In addition to clarification on CRS's relationship to FRAYBA and other pro-abortion groups in Mexico, CRS has refused to respond to a request for a complete list of its partners in Latin America.
CRS has declined to state if it intends to begin supporting organizations that defend the right to life and sexual morality, following Pope Benedict XVI's recent statements declaring such causes to be an integral part of social justice.
In its January 1 statement CRS had said: "We want to be clear that we are open to and welcome correction, presented to us by people and organizations who offer it in the spirit of Christian charity and with the intention of helping us to live the Gospel mission of serving the poorest of the poor around the world."
It added, however, "In substance and tone, these recent unrelenting attacks are not helpful. They attempt to cause division in the Body of Christ. This is harmful to the Church and to the pro-life cause."
CRS statement: "CRS Responds to LifeSiteNews Allegations about Mexico Partners," posted February 22, 2013
CRS statement: "CRS Upholds Catholic Teaching and Values," posted January 1, 2013
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