MADAGASCAR, August 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After Catholic Relief Services claimed it is “simply false” that they are distributing abortifacients and contraceptives in Madagascar, the pro-life group that made the charge has released quotes from an archbishop and clergy in the African country supporting their report.

“Even in my own diocese!  Without my knowledge,...they [CRS] were working on an artificial contraception project here,” said Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.

As part of a month-long investigation in the fall of 2012, the Population Research Institute interviewed clergy in Madagascar, including two archbishops, who shared grave concerns about CRS’ work in the country.

According to PRI, the bishops went public with them after they had held a private meeting with CRS’ president, Dr. Carolyn Woo, to no avail.

They released the archbishops’ quotes Wednesday after CRS accused them and other pro-life groups on Tuesday of carrying out “unrelenting attacks” that “attempt to cause division in the Body of Christ” and are “harmful to the Church and to the pro-life cause.”

In addition to complaining that CRS was involved in distributing abortifacients and contraceptives, the clergy expressed dismay that the majority of CRS’ employees in the country are not Catholic and that it does its work apart from the local church.

“Maybe CRS’s participation in artificial-contraception-promotion programs is the reason that CRS mainly hires Protestants, who have no objection to family planning,” suggested Fr. Liva, SMM, Pastor at St. Thérèse Parish in Tamatave. “If CRS hired Catholics, some of those Catholics might object more strongly to CRS’s participation in that kind of thing.”

“I’m not sure why, and I don’t want to exaggerate, but maybe 70% of its staff, or even more – is not Catholic,” said Archbishop Tsarahazana. “They’re not Catholic… I do understand that about CRS’s commitments to the U.S. Government…but, the question that remains is:  Why are there so few Catholics on CRS’s staff…that I don’t understand so well.”

Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, expressed concern over the Catholic agency’s apparently tight relationship with the U.S. government.

“One time, for ‘visibility’ purposes, they [CRS-Madagascar representatives] came in here [to my office] and asked me to put up this thing, this sign, with ‘USAID’ on it; to put it up behind my desk,” he said. “I threw them the hell out of my office:  ‘Take your sign and your money out of here.  I don’t need it.  I’ve lived in my poverty; leave me in my poverty.’ ”

“The money that CRS gets:  a large part of it goes towards administration, while they make us work like dogs,” he added. “And then they collect two-thirds…and they give us crumbs.  They are the ones who need to explain:  Why do they receive such big salaries?”

Archbishop Tsarahazana said he had been head of the Archdiocese for over three years before he even knew where CRS’ office was. “Just this year CRS held a very big meeting here in town – a ‘capacity-building’ meeting or something, at a hotel here – and I heard about it only accidentally, when I was up in the [town] of Diego, and somebody told me about the meeting to be held [in my own town],” he said.  “I was embarrassed; I didn’t know anything about it.”

“The archbishop recently told one parish not to bother applying to CRS for aid, because it wouldn’t work,” said Fr. Jean Noël Rakotondrazafy. “If it did, the reporting/accounting procedures would be impossible for the parish to fulfill.  He directed the parish to BUCAS [Bureau de Coordination des Actions Sociales] instead.”

PRI reports that local clergy even refer to CRS as a “so-called ‘Catholic’” agency.

“You know, CRS works outside of the Church,” said Father Jean Joel, Director of Bureau de Coordination des Actions Sociales. “It has the name ‘Catholic’ Relief Services but [laughing] doesn’t work, really, with Catholics.  Even the personnel of ‘C’RS are nearly all Protestant.”

“We [the Montfort Fathers] might have the same name [Catholic] but we’re not in the same family,” said Fr. Jean Jagu, Vicar at the Montfort Fathers’ church in Brickaville.

PRI released its initial report on its investigation in Madagascar last Thursday as CRS scrambled to affirm its commitment to upholding Catholic teaching after LifeSiteNews revealed they had given over $13 million to the pro-abortion CARE in 2012, and are in the midst of giving a $2.7 million grant to the leading abortion-marketing firm Population Services International.

In its piece Wednesday, PRI says CRS’ quarrel is not with them but with the bishops and clergy of Madagascar.

“It is CRS’ activities there, in Madagascar, that are, to quote CRS’ own words, ‘caus[ing] division in the Body of Christ [and are] … harmful to the Church and to the pro-life cause,’” wrote the pro-life group. “Catholic Relief Services, for the love of God and the unity of the Catholic Church, heal thyself!”

LifeSiteNews.com contacted CRS for comment but did not hear back by press time.

See the Population Research Institute’s full report here.

Contact info:

Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3357
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3413
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-3409
E-mail: cdf@cfaith.va

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

Readers may also comment on Catholic Relief Services’ Facebook page.