Co-author Angela O’Brien

July 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the epic battle between the American Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration over being forced to pay for contraceptive coverage, the efforts of the bishops have been undermined time and again by individual Catholics and Catholic entities that support contraception. One major example of this is within the Bishops’ own jurisdiction. 

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), “the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” has recently given millions to an organization that doles out contraceptives, including abortifacient ‘emergency contraception.’

The most recent CRS annual returns (2010) indicate that the largest CRS grant — $5.3 million — went to CARE, an international “relief and development organization,” that actively promotes and provides contraceptives for women in developing countries, and supports pro-abortion groups and legislation.

According to the 2010 990s, CRS gave $5,380,466 to CARE, which is noted on page 86 of the filing.

Noted theologian Dr. William Marshner told LifeSiteNews that he believes the CRS’ funding of CARE is “ghastly.”

“Obviously this expenditure of funds on the part of Catholic Relief Services is an immoral use of the money,” he said.

Human Life International, the largest international pro-life Catholic organization is similarly troubled.  There is “no way to support CARE financially that does not also support the problematic work that they do,” Fr. Shenan Boquet told LifeSiteNews.

The HLI president noted that that CARE has made “‘reproductive health’—which typically includes contraception as well as abortion—a cornerstone of their ‘development’ strategies.” Because the revenues that CARE receives are fungible, he said, any funds given them would automatically support their whole program—including abortion lobbying and contraception.

“We hope that CRS reconsiders its funding for CARE and for other groups who have for some time, whether knowingly or not, set themselves against the Church’s view of the dignity of the human person,” said Fr. Boquet.

When asked if, given the evidence on CARE, CRS would end its partnership with the organization, CRS Communications Director John Rivera said “no.” He indicated that concerns had already been raised and dismissed. 

Rivera told LifeSiteNews that CRS doesn’t so much give the money to the organization as act as a “pass-through” for federal funding to such groups, and that the money is given only to projects in line with Catholic teaching.

However, when asked if CRS would similarly issue ‘pass-through’ funding to Planned Parenthood for a morally neutral project, Rivera replied in the negative.  “We would never partner with Planned Parenthood,” he said.

He explained the difference saying, it’s about “the preponderance of work they do.”  Rivera noted that CRS acts on criteria developed by the U.S. bishops. “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.”

Marshner, the founding professor of theology at Christendom College, took issue with this rationale:

“Well this is like saying that we will fund an organization that does 50 or fewer assassinations a year, but not one that will commit 50 or more assassinations a year. The idea of such a threshold is preposterous. The only defense would be if a group to whom they had given money incidentally, or rarely, or accidentally, or inadvertently did something immoral with it. But, if the group to whom the money is given has a regular practice of using some of their funds in this way, then it is immoral for a Church organization to give money to that outfit.”

In its Mission Statement, CRS claims to “uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life,” and “embody Catholic social and moral teaching.” In April 2009, CRS senior communications manager, Tom Price, told LifeSiteNews: “We would not fund any [abortion] advocacy organization.” 

Price said at the time that CRS’s official policy “on relationships with organizations that carry out activities counter to Church teaching is that we would not partner or fund them. This is very clear policy at CRS. We are an agency of the Catholic Church and we do not just follow Church teachings, we embrace them.”

However, CARE’s provision of contraceptives is explicit. In a statement on International Women’s Day, the CARE website declared: “…CARE instituted community-based distribution systems to make contraceptives available at clients’ doorsteps”.

While claiming that “CARE does not fund, support or perform abortions,” CARE notes its partnership with leading abortion-provider Marie Stopes International (page 4).

CARE also provides abortifacient emergency contraception. “Together with governments and other partners,” the CARE website states, “we are focusing on emergency obstetric care, family planning (including emergency contraception)…”

In an article titled “A Request for President Obama” on the CARE website, CARE clearly expresses its hostility to anti-abortion legislation: “Thankfully, on Election Day, we did not choose four more years of conservative, unsympathetic leaders. Under the previous administration, we simply made it far too difficult for women outside of the U.S. to access reproductive-health and family-planning services. Case in point: In 1984, the Reagan administration established the Mexico City Policy… because it denies foreign organizations receiving U.S. family-planning assistance the right to use their own non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion or counsel, or even to refer abortion or to lobby for the legalization of abortion.”

HLI President Fr. Boquet called for the immediate defunding of CARE, and for a review of its granting policies.