BALTIMORE, Maryland, July 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life leaders are expressing outrage after LifeSiteNews.com revealed Thursday that the U.S. Bishops’ foreign relief agency is funding a leading abortion-marketing firm.

Catholic Relief Services is distributing a two-year $2.7 million grant to Population Services International (PSI), which networks and trains local providers throughout the developing world to offer “safe abortion.” 

"Somebody has to get fired over this,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM). “We fight groups like PSI all over the world and now we find our own church funds them. It's disgusting and for one I am bone-weary of these types of revelations. Heads should roll." 

Fr. Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, said he finds it “incomprehensible” that an organization like PSI was deemed worthy of Catholic funds. 

PSI’s “primary mission has always been to promote contraception, abortifacient drugs, condoms, and even surgical abortion,” he said. “Like many other population control groups in the mid-1990s, they started to rebrand their mission as being about 'health', using more positive language and adding malaria-prevention programs to their portfolio. But this should not confuse anyone as to their purpose.” 

Judie Brown, president of American Life League, said the news was “not surprising.” “Catholic Relief Services has historically been advocates, although not publicly – behind the scenes – advocates of population control in the Third World,” she charged. 

Brown’s point was echoed by Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, who said CRS implicates itself in population control by the very fact that it receives over two thirds of its funding from USAID. 

“CRS knows very well what the principal purpose of USAID is. And it tries to, in various ways, to massage that purpose, and avoid being implicated in the purpose of population control,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, they know who’s paying their salaries, and that’s why the money goes to CARE, that’s why the money goes to PSI, that’s why the money goes back and forth to other population control agencies, because that’s what their masters in the federal government demand of them.”

“This is not an agency of the institutional Catholic Church. This is a separate aid agency, which, because it receives two thirds of its funding from the U.S. government, is Catholic in name only,” he added. “No man can serve two masters.”

The grant

The $2.7 million grant to PSI is part of a Global Fund-backed project run by CRS in Guinea to combat malaria. The funds are disbursed over the two years of the project’s initial phase, from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013. 

When LifeSiteNews questioned CRS about the grant, they initially claimed PSI had merely acted as a vendor by selling them mosquito nets, but when presented with more information, the Catholic agency acknowledged that the abortion giant is taking a decidedly more active role. 

“To be clear, now that we have had more time to talk with staff involved in the project, the money did not go specifically to purchase the nets but rather to implement other parts of the grant which is focused on distributing 3 million nets and making sure they are properly used to save thousands of lives by preventing malaria,” Michael Hill, CRS’ Senior Writer, told LifeSiteNews on Thursday. 

PSI, he said, is leading the project’s mass media marketing campaign as well as “training and overseeing community health workers” and “community organizations.” 

Though the Catholic agency stressed that PSI’s role was restricted only to malaria prevention, concern over the grant is heightened by the fact that PSI describes its work on malaria as “deeply intertwined” with its “reproductive health” agenda. 

“Reproductive, maternal and child health and malaria are all deeply intertwined, affecting poor and vulnerable populations in rural areas together,” the organization wrote in a program description [link] for a USAID-funded project in Madagascar running from 2008-2013. “Success (or failure) in one area, such as malaria, can free up resources to focus on other areas, or drag down progress.” Integrating these programs, they add, “offer[s] many opportunities to reach target audiences.” 

As LifeSiteNews reported Thursday, PSI’s “reproductive health” agenda is heavily abortion-focused. On its own webpage, the firm explains that it “works to increase access to WHO-approved medical abortion drugs,” and mentions its provision of medical abortions in Cambodia and Nepal, noting that in Cambodia it launched the country’s “first safe medical abortion drug, known as Medabon.” 

The firm markets a “safe abort kit” in India as a part of a project that aimed to “facilitate … over 200,000 safe abortions using medical abortions” from 2008-2013 by focusing “both on the demand and supply side” of the medical abortion market. 

At a “maternal health” conference in Tanzania on January 16, 2013, a PSI employee delivered a talk titled “Creating the misoprostol market”. (See video here.) 

Numerous job ads are accessible online showing PSI seeking to fill various roles in its campaign for globally-accessible abortion. Among them is one seeking a candidate with “clinical proficiency [in] surgical and medication abortion.” 

For more evidence of PSI’s work in the abortion industry view Thursday’s LSN report.

CRS willing to go to ‘third level of hell’, just not the tenth

LifeSiteNews initially began investigating CRS’ relationship with PSI because the Catholic agency’s IRS filings for 2012 showed that they had given PSI a grant of $9,588 for “agriculture.” 

But it turns out that CRS has a history of working with PSI going back at least over a decade. A page on the website of the Centers for Disease Control describes a safe water initiative in Madagascar, with an implementation date of April 2000, that CRS partnered on with PSI and CARE. On PSI’s website, CRS is listed as a partner in Zambia, Haiti, and Guinea. According to PSI’s webpage on Guinea, CRS partnered with them on a measles vaccination program there during 2009. 

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CRS has defended similar grants in the past, such as its multi-million dollar annual donations to the pro-abortion group CARE, by arguing that the funds are given only for projects in line with Catholic teaching and are not fungible because of the way the grant agreements are established. 

But the Catholic agency has also said that it would never give a dime to Planned Parenthood. “We would never partner with Planned Parenthood,” communications director John Rivera told LifeSiteNews last year. “We’ve given this a lot of consideration, and there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.”

In Thursday’s report, Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith Project, said that CRS, in funding PSI, “might as well be funding Planned Parenthood.”

Judie Brown, ALL’s president, slammed the funding policy. “If you read Dante, there’s the ten levels of hell,” she said. By the policy’s logic, she said, “CRS is willing to go to the first, second, and third level of hell. They’re just not willing to go to all the way to the tenth.”

“The underlying philosophical bent of all of those organizations is ridding the world of poor people,” she added. “It’s just that they’re pecking order of how they get that done is a little bit different. The underlying philosophy is exactly the same.” 

“CRS should not be collaborating with any of the population control agencies funded by USAID, which means all of the agencies that receive money for ‘family planning,’ ‘reproductive health,’ and ‘population stabilization,’” said Mosher. “They are not as well known as Planned Parenthood, obviously, but they are all cut from the same cloth.” 

John Smeaton, chief executive of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said CRS’s claims that their multi-million dollar grants to groups like CARE and PSI are not supporting their evil actions are utterly false. 

“Firstly, CARE and PSI's knowledge that, year after year, CRS will give them millions of dollars for ostensibly ethical projects enables them to budget and plan ahead for their unethical activities,” he said. “Secondly, receiving millions from CRS helps whitewash their reputations in the wider world and entrenches their presence in the countries where they operate.” 

“Lastly, there are legions of pro-life/pro-family Catholic initiatives which desperately need funding, such as MaterCare International, the Billings Ovulation Method and Culture of Life Africa,” he added. “CRS' millions for CARE and PSI should be given to them instead."

A plea to the U.S. Bishops

According to Brown, the problems at CRS are “something that we’ve tried to call attention to the bishops for a long time.” 

“The longer the bishops remain in denial, the more obvious this population control aspect of CRS is going to become. Because they have nothing to lose, they have nothing to fear,” she cautioned. 

In her view, the issues are so deep that an attempt at reform simply wouldn’t be enough. “What has to happen is that the USCCCB itself has to dismantle this organization completely,” she said. Unfortunately, she added, “I just don’t see that happening.” 

Mosher urged action from individual bishops in their dioceses. “What we need in the United States is for a number of bishops to … say that until these problems with CRS are cleared up, they will not be taking a collection for CRS,” he said. “They will be encouraging Catholics in the U.S. to give to authentic Catholic charities.” 

“If you sup with the devil, you need a long spoon,” said Mosher, but “there is no spoon long enough to sup with this particular devil.” 

“This particular devil is in the business of destroying human life and any agency that’s supposed to be Catholic must not have anything to do with that agenda.” 

Contact info:

Cardinal Robert Sarah
Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"
Palazzo San Pio X
V-00120 Vatican City State
Phone: +39-06-69889411
Fax: +39-06-69887301 or +39-06-69887311
E-mail: corunum@corunum.va

Find contact information for all U.S. Bishops here.

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