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International pro-life group calls for U.S. Bishops to dissolve Catholic Relief Services

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Editor’s Note: The following quotes the hard-hitting 3 pages of conclusions in the Population Research Institute’s 119-page report on its on site investigations of Catholic Relief Services in Madagascar. The conclusions summarize the serious contradictions between CRS practices and its Catholic mission. It also emphasizes credible reasons for dismissing on-going CRS denials of the PRI investigation revelations. See the interview transcripts Part I and Part II of two Madagascar bishops supporting the previous series of articles published on LifeSiteNews regarding PRI’s investigations.

See also  PRI and Stephen Mosher should receive an award for exceptional report on CRS Madagascar scandals

September 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic charity has always been, first and foremost, the responsibility of the Catholic faithful, who in living their Christian lives must follow our Lord’s commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  PRI’s president, as the recipient of the Blessed Frédéric Ozanam Award from the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and who has himself helped to found a number of charitable organizations, has a deep appreciation for this aspect of the Christian calling and a profound respect for those who are involved in such work.  

As Pope Benedict wrote in Deus Caritas Est, such an exercise in charity “needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 20).  And among the most important of such organized charities, as noted in the Kinshasa Declaration, is the “diocesan Caritas . . . [which] unlike the other organizations of lay groups or religious congregations, [is unique] in being the official organ of the bishop for the service of charity.

Thus the African bishops, in concert with the universal Church, underline the indispensable role of the bishop in his diocese in overseeing both the giving and receiving of charity through the official organs of the Church.  

 This reasonable request—that all the official charitable organs of the Church, including CRS, respect and submit to the authority of the bishop in his diocese—constitutes a major stumbling block for CRS.  After all, it receives most of its funding from an organization—USAID—that forbids it to discriminate in favor of one religion over another.  Were “Catholic” Relief Services actually to attempt following the Church’s dictates and carrying out its government-funded programs through the bishop in his diocese, it would shortly thereafter lose its government funding.  

This same consideration accounts for the failure of CRS to favor Catholics in its hiring policies and to preferentially serve the population whose name it bears.  It bewilders African bishops that a “Catholic” charity does not hire Catholics to carry out programs to help fellow Catholics.  Muslim charities help fellow Muslims, they point out, and Baptist charities help fellow Baptists.  What they don’t realize is that the Muslim and Baptist charities rely upon private funds, but that grants from USAID come with nondiscrimination clauses attached.  Let CRS begin hiring only Catholics, and complaints of “bias” in the hiring would be quickly leveled and, if not corrected, contracts would be cancelled.

In fact, it is to avoid the appearance of favoring the Catholic Church in any way that CRS does not work, modestly and efficiently, out of the existing Catholic network of chanceries and parishes.  Instead, like the other secular humanitarian organizations that it partners with, it sets up an expensive, freestanding headquarters in the countries and dioceses in which it operates.  It may, as a matter of courtesy, inform the local bishop of its activities in his diocese, and it may from time to time, send a private donation his way, but it will not submit to his lawful authority.  It can’t, if it wants to continue to receive a half billion dollars from the U.S. Treasury each year.

CRS goes to great lengths to spin these necessities into virtues.  To explain why it does not preferentially serve Catholics in its programs, it loftily boasts of responding “on the basis of need not creed.”  To explain why an ostensibly Catholic organization does not preferentially hire Catholics, it speaks of hiring on the basis of professional qualifications.  Such claims sound plausible until you understand that they have been imposed on CRS by its principal donor, USAID.  

An authentic Catholic charity would understand that it is a guest in the diocese of the local bishop and would work under his authority.  It would hire faithful Catholics and, while not turning away anyone in need, seek above all to serve its fellow Catholics.  That approach would surely please the vast majority of CRS’ private donors, even if it would displease its enormous public one.  And it is an approach that St. Paul specifically endorsed in his letter to the Galatians: “So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith. (Galatians 6:10)

What kind of an organization does CRS want to be? Does it want to fundamentally restructure society as many of the secular humanitarian organizations obviously do?  Does it want to prattle on endlessly about fighting for a more just or a more democratic society like the other humanitarian NGOs?  Or does it want to be a physical expression of the personal encounter with the love of Christ which moves us, as the Cardinal Sarah stated, “generously and freely towards the most disadvantaged so as to give witness to the Trinitarian love.”

Are its employees satisfied to be seen by the supposed beneficiaries of its actions as merely extensions of USAID and the anti-life ideology that it spreads?  Or are they seeking a personal relationship with God through prayer and the frequenting of the sacraments so that they can be true witnesses of the love of Christ and not fall into political or social activism or secularism?  

It is logically incoherent to say, as CRS currently does, that it is only necessary that the organization's employees recognize that CRS is officially Catholic.  Clearly, a Hindu employee of CRS is not going to be “frequenting the sacraments.[1]”  And a former CRS-Madagascar director, who happened to be Jewish, is not going to start going to Confession and being a “true witness of the love of Christ.  If Cardinal Sarah of Cor Unum suggests that employees of Catholic charities should be going to Mass, then those same charities, including CRS, are going to have to start hiring Catholics—faithful Catholics.

These are two fundamentally different visions of what Catholic charity should be. The first, which is espoused by many current CRS employees, is essentially secular and humanitarian.  The second, which is espoused by the Church, is sacred and Trinitarian. The Kinshasa Declaration seems to be speaking directly to CRS about its close relationship with USAID when it warns:  “We can thus not let ourselves be absorbed by those with powerful means – financial, of the mass-media, and of a great manipulative capacity – [who] want to spread, under the cloak of a so-called progress and of the vision of an allegedly universal man, a philosophy of rights that we cannot accept.”  

Taken together, the transcripts of the interviews we carried out in Madagascar, the more diplomatic but equally revealing speeches given by African bishops at Kinshasa, and the brief but incisive Motu Proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI lead to a single conclusion: The official Catholic charities of the North are, at least to many of their supposed “beneficiaries,” no longer recognizably Catholic.  They have devolved into humanitarian relief organizations that are, in their day-to-day operations, indistinguishable from their secular counterparts.  Fundamental structural reforms are required to bring them into conformance with Church teaching.

In Paragraph 10 of the Kinshasa Declaration, the assembled African bishops called “upon our representatives . . . to draw the attention of other members of the Caritas family [to our concerns].”  There is no sign, however, that “other members of the Caritas family,” in particular CRS, have taken meaningful cognizance of the concerns expressed by the African bishops at this meeting.  And, if they have, it is certainly true that they have not shared these concerns with us, the members of the “Catholic community of the United States of America,” to whom the international humanitarian agency CRS supposedly belongs.  

In fact, the only reference to the Kinshasa meeting that a search of the CRS website brings up is a press release entitled, “Catholic Church in Africa 'outraged’ by Congo Violence.” As its title suggests, this one-page release highlighted an armed clash in the Congo that occurred simultaneously with the Kinshasa meeting.  It mentioned only in passing that “The bishops met November 20-22 on the work of Caritas on the continent.” That is the only reference to the Kinshasa meeting, the results of which the African bishops specifically asked to be conveyed to the “other members of the Caritas family”!

CRS continues to engage in the pretense that there is nothing wrong with its current business model.  Here is what a representative of CRS told one member of that American Catholic community who wrote to express concern that at least one African bishop was not at all happy with the American organization:

“We are unaware of any bishops that CRS works with in Africa having refused to work with CRS.  We have a very good working relationship with all of our partners around the world, including the Church, and meet with the bishops regularly to consult on our work and partner on projects.”

This is, purely and simply, a fantasy.  For real-life examples of how far removed it is from reality, remember the remarks of the bishops, priests, and other Catholic officials with whom we spoke in Madagascar, including the president of the Madagascar bishops’ conference.  Almost to a man, they were incensed at the “unequal,” “non-horizontal,” “infantilizing” working relationship that they had with CRS – when they even had a relationship.  As for the “regular” meetings, recall the remarks of the president of the Malagasy Bishops’ Conference about CRS operating out of his sight and behind his back in his own diocese.  Recall the complaints about how it had taken two years for the Malagasy bishops to wrangle a meeting with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)/CRS, and how they had wanted that meeting not for the purpose of congratulating the USCCB/CRS on the “good working relationship” enjoyed by all, but to air their grievances against CRS and to fundamentally alter the one-sided relationship they had with that organization.

Some may conclude that CRS’ refusal to acknowledge its problems—and even its uncharitable attacks on its critics—are merely typical bureaucratic stonewalling.  We disagree.  We believe that the CRS leadership understands, perhaps better than the African bishops, and perhaps even better than the bishops who serve on its board, what is at stake here.  They understand the risks, both to their funding and to their careers, of acknowledging their past failures and embarking upon a process of reform.  They understand that extricating CRS from the smothering secular embrace of USAID will result in the loss of perhaps two-thirds of the organization’s funding.  They understand that re-establishing its identity as a truly Catholic charity means giving up its current pose as a humanitarian NGO and reintegrating it into the Catholic Church under the direct control of the bishops.

They understand that CRS, if it is to be an authentic Catholic charity as demanded by the Motu Proprio, “On the Service of Charity,” will cease to exist in its current form.  

Recommendations

 1.­ That the non-profit corporation known as Catholic Relief Services be dissolved.

 2. That the charitable activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) be carried out by an office, known as International Catholic Charities (ICC), located in the USCCB itself.

 3.  That all programmatic activities carried out by ICC be done in concert with the bishop in the local diocese where the program is located, under his guidance, approval, and supervision.

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Julie Ralph

My 7-year-old son found porn on his iPod, even with a filter

Julie Ralph
By Julie Ralph

A few weeks ago an article went viral on my Facebook feed entitled “The Day My 10-Year-Old Discovered Hardcore Porn on his iPhone.”  As one Mom after another shared and commented about how frightening and horrible it was and wondered what do we do to prevent it, I commented on several of those shares (perhaps a little smugly and proudly) that WE had installed an excellent filtering program on all of our devices that even filters YouTube.  I most likely left the impression that WE have no worries in this house, that our kids can watch their iPods and kindles, even those annoying Minecraft how to videos on YouTube, and WE don’t have to worry about them seeing filth. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.

I could have entitled this blog post “The Day My 7-Year-Old Discovered Porn on His iPod” but it might look like I’m trying to one-up that other Mom.  Which I’m not.  Because, trust me, this is one Mom competition I’d rather lose. 

This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.

So YES we have this supposedly great and awesome filter on all of our devices and we pay about $70 a year for it.   Look, I’ve been on my computer trying to shop for a swimsuit at Lands End and the filter blocked me.  Annoying, yes.  But assuring.  I remember thinking wow….if I can’t even get on here and see the tummy-sucking-miracle-fat-hiding-mawmaw-swimsuits, my boys will NEVER be able to discover Victoria or her Secret.   And I’ve been on YouTube trying to see how to quickly defrost CHICKEN breasts, and it blocked several videos AND ads that probably had nothing to do with fowl or a thawing method.  Again I remember thinking, good.  This is really good.  Nothing to worry about.

Then last night happened.

My youngest son was visibly shaken as he was getting ready for bed.  I knew something was wrong when I saw he was wearing his flannel pajamas with the mountain bears printed all over them on one of the hottest August nights this month.   He seemed almost disoriented and I asked him if he was sick as he was trying to quickly crawl into bed and pull the covers over his head.   He then reached over to the bedside table, grabbed his little iPod, and tossed it to me saying he doesn’t deserve it anymore because he is bad.  “I’m bad, so bad….I saw bad things.”  My heart started racing and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  Because I knew where this was going.  Very calmly and quietly I assured him he was not bad and there was nothing in the world he could ever tell me that would make me think he was bad.  “What did you see, sweetheart?” I asked.  After about ten minutes of me coaxing it out of him, with a wobbly still-tiny-smidge-of-baby-left voice he told me he was searching for a word he had heard and he spelled it for me.  T-t-i-s.  (I quickly unscrambled and knew what he meant).  He went on to tell me he searched for this on YouTube (the app is not even on his iPod….he must go through the “filter” app to access it!).   He told me he saw pictures and videos.

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My stomach turned.  I ran through all the “How To” files I’d stored away in my mind.  You know those files….situations you’ve thought about as a Mom and how you’d handle…you file them away for another day.  Usually one you hope will never come.   Turns out I didn’t have a file for this.  Because I honestly thought we had done everything on the front end to keep it from happening. 

I ran my fingers through his hair and pulled him close and started talking to him from my broken heart.  I asked him if he knew what that word meant before he searched for it.  He said no.  I told him it is a very crude and ugly word for something that is not crude and ugly.  I told him what the proper word is and I asked him if he knew why God made them like that on women?  He said no.  I told him it was the miraculous and wonderful way that God made women able to feed their babies.  I told him how every woman who has those is made to feed a baby, and those women in those pictures and videos are either already someone’s Mommy or they will be one day.  And what God meant for a beautiful purpose is twisted and made into something very wrong and ugly by those pictures and videos.

Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.

We continued to talk and then we prayed together and I left him to sleep as I walked back to my room for a sleepless night.  I cried for the ugly, messed up, twisted, and sick world out there that I can’t protect my children from.  I cried for what he had seen that I couldn’t un-see for him.  I cried because I had abdicated MY parenting duties to some stupid computer software that I thought would protect my children.  I cried because I can never get back that bit of innocence he lost way, way too early.  I cried as I went onto YouTube, put in that same search and saw just the thumbnails of what he had to have seen.  I just can’t bring myself to actually click on the videos.  I cried because, when I went in to check on him later, he was curled up with Big Bear in one arm and his little blue and white checked blanket in the other.  He’s still a baby. 

I’m mad now.  And I really hope my anger continues to burn because I need it to fuel my diligence.   I need my guard to be up and to stay up.  This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.  I know there are those who would say I’m being overly dramatic, that I can’t put my children in a bubble, blah blah blah.  I don’t care.  I will do whatever it takes to protect my children until their minds, bodies and emotions are better prepared to grasp, filter, and sort through the warped and ugly parts of our world that are pulling on them.  I will continue to pull back and hold on for dear life.   Don’t do as I did, friends.  Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.  Do as I am doing now.  Uninstall any and all browsers or video apps on your kids’ personal devices and set the restrictions where they can’t install apps anymore without asking you first.   Have one central computer in a public area of your home that they may use, with permission, and still with filter software installed.  But remember that’s not the first line of defense in this war.

You are.

Julie Ralph blogs at Mommy, Esquire, where this piece was originally published.

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Sen. Ted Cruz's wife douses him with water as part of the Ice Bucket challenge for ALS research. Youtube
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Sen. Ted Cruz: Do the ALS challenge, donate to pro-life institute

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By Dustin Siggins

One of the nation's most prominent senators is doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge -- but encouraging donations to a pro-life ALS research institute.

In the last month, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, sponsored by the ALS Association, has raised tens of millions of dollars for research for the disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. However, in mid-August pro-life leaders raised awareness that the Association supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Embryonic stem-cell research includes the destruction of a human embryo, and is thus condemned by pro-life advocates as an abortion. The Association has said it currently has one project that uses embryonic stem cells, funded by an outside donor.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Cruz -- who took the challenge last week -- said that he and his wife "are proud to personally support the John Paul II Medical Research Institute the Home of Give Cures (http://jp2mri.org), which conducts groundbreaking research into curing this terrible disease, without using embryonic stem cells."

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"The JPII Institute respects human life, and is working to improve the lives of all of us," said Cruz. 

The ALS Association has said donors may specify their dollars not be used to fund embryonic stem-cell research. However, critics note that donated funds are fungible, meaning they potentially free up funds the Association can then direct to illicit research.

At least two Catholic dioceses have encouraged Ice Bucket Challenge participants to donate to the JPII Medical Institute.

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7989 West Virginia Drive, Dallas, where Planned Parenthood is working on secretly opening up a new abortion facility. Google Streetview
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Pro-abortion study: Texas will be down to eight abortion clinics by fall

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By Dustin Siggins

A study by a pro-abortion research group shows that Texas will be down from 41 abortion clinics in July 2013 to eight by this fall.

In July, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that six abortion clinics matched the standards required in HB2, which was signed into law 13 months ago. Those standards include requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of clinics at which they work, a standard already in place, and a requirement that all abortion clinics must upgrade their facilities to the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers.

The study estimates that a total of eight clinics will be able to meet the ambulatory standards, including one that will open in the fall. The standards take effect on September 1. According to the study, this means there will be one abortion clinic for every one million Texans who could become pregnant. An infographic from the study shows that the existing clinics will be located on the eastern half of the state, largely near metropolitan areas.

The study's results, published in the peer-reviewed journal Contraception, have abortion supporters outraged. Andrea Grimes of RH Reality Check writes, "No legal abortion facilities will operate south or west of San Antonio," and that five of the clinics will be operated by Planned Parenthood.

However, the closure of so many clinics is good news to pro-life activists like Karen Garnett, who heads the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in the Diocese of Dallas.

"The closing of abortion facilities in Texas the last few years has been the result of the owners of the facilities themselves not being willing or able to comply with the higher standards of medical safety" required by the Texas legislature, Garnett told LifeSiteNews. "Pro-life activists and leaders in Dallas (and Texas) have been working vigilantly with the members of the Texas legislature the last few years to pass these sensible laws.  There is much to be said for the power of prayer, particularly through the powerful 40 Days for Life campaign and prayer vigils."

While abortion supporters claim Texas is abandoning pregnant women, Garnett said the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in Dallas has "helped more than 7,500 mothers choose life outside the abortion facilities," but "we don't stop there."

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"Our Project Gabriel Ministry takes the next step. For those mothers needing and desiring spiritual, emotional and material help, we offer Gabriel Angels, who are paired with them in a one-on-one mentoring and support relationship. We also have a Gabriel Resource Coordinator on staff to help them with practical needs as their situations stabilize." Life skills classes, adoption counseling, and partnerships with pregnancy centers are also part of the Diocese's work to help pregnant mothers.

Jor-El Godsey of Heartbeat International said that there are 326 pregnancy help organizations across the state, which outnumber abortion clinics by approximately 40 to 1. He estimated that approximately 120,000 pregnant women have come to care centers in 2014.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which is funded by an anonymous donor, is a five-year effort to "analyze the impact of the measures affecting reproductive health passed by the 82nd and 83rd Texas Legislatures." The project's partners include the University of Texas at Austin’s Population Research Center, the pro-abortion Ibis Reproductive Health, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. One of the project's investigators is Daniel Grossman, whose biography says that "his current research at Ibis includes both clinical and social science studies aimed at improving access to contraception and safe abortion."

The project has also published reports titled "The Public Health Threat of Anti-Abortion Legislation," and "Finding the Twitter Users that Stood With Wendy." The latter examined social media support for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who briefly became a national figure for her support of late-term abortions in 2013.

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