Michael Hichborn, American Life League

Where there’s smoke?

Michael Hichborn, American Life League
By Michael Hichborn

Aug. 14, 2013 (ALL) - For the past couple of years, Catholic Relief Services has been at the center of a scandalous controversy regarding the funding of organizations promoting abortion and birth control. In some instances, there have even been claims that CRS was itself involved directly in the distribution of abortifacients and contraception. Through it all, CRS has denied any direct involvement in either the funding or distribution of such things. Though it has, on occasion, conceded that some of its own documentation wrongly promoted the use of condoms, CRS consistently and vehemently denies that it has ever done anything wrong. There’s an old saying: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The problem is that smoke has a way of concealing the flames. But if we look carefully, we should be able to cut through it all, get right to the source, and see just what kind of fire this is.

Plenty has been written about CRS’ funding of organizations like CARE and Population Services International, and the question about the fungibility of the money from CRS to these organizations is still lingering. But what I would like to focus on is the question of CRS’ direct funding and participation in the promotion of birth control.

After LifeSiteNews reported CRS’ $5.3 million grant to CARE International, one of the defenses offered by CRS was that “none of the funding from CRS was fungible.” 

However, this defense could not be offered when it came to CRS’ dues-paying relationships with other abortion and birth control spreading organizations. When reports came out that CRS is a dues-paying member and on the board of directors of MEDiCAM and CORE Group, CRS issued (in part) these two respective responses:

(Regarding MEDiCAM) MEDiCAM, similar to some networks and professional associations to which CRS belongs, includes organization members and program areas which do not align with all tenets of Catholic teaching. CRS staff who participate in these associations acknowledge our differences, air our disagreements on these issues, and contribute our Catholic voice to the conversation. As a member of such associations, we are able to represent the Catholic positions on health care as well as highlight our work and demonstrate the efficacy of such approaches. 

(Regarding CORE Group) Some networks to which CRS belongs include members which do not uphold all tenets of Catholic teaching. We acknowledge our differences, air our disagreements on these issues, and contribute our Catholic voice to the conversation. As an active and influential member of the CORE Group, we are able to represent the Catholic positions on health for mothers and their infants. 

It is important to note that MEDiCAM has made the spread of abortion (including the individual training of abortion providers) a primary focus of its strategy sessions since at least 2007, and CORE Group spent nearly 50 percent of its total budget toward “family planning” in 2011. The point is, the dues that CRS pays to MEDiCAM and CORE Group are indeed fungible, meaning that any money CRS is giving to these organizations is applied also to the spread of abortion and birth control. CRS does not deny this, but instead attempts to justify the dues-money and the relationship. So, as it stands here, CRS’ defense on the grounds of fungibility does not work.

Last year, while CRS was defending the grant it gave to CARE, it made it very clear that it would never give money to an organization like Planned Parenthood because “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.” However, in July of this year, CRS was caught giving $2.7 million to a population control organization that uses its work in distributing anti-malaria drugs and mosquito nets (the area for which CRS says it gave funds to PSI) as a means of spreading its population control programs. In fact, PSI even stated in its own material that “reproductive, maternal and child health, and malaria are all deeply intertwined, affecting poor and vulnerable populations in rural areas together. Success (or failure) in one area, such as malaria, can free up resources to focus on other areas, or drag down progress.” 

In every region where PSI is working, it is also spreading abortion, birth control, or both. There is simply no area where its staff is working where they are NOT doing this. As such, it can and must be said that the focus of PSI as an agency, and the preponderance of its work, is population control through the spread of birth control and abortion. And yet, even as CRS made abundantly clear in defense of its grant to CARE that it would never fund an organization like Planned Parenthood, it was in the process of facilitating millions of dollars to an organization an awful lot like Planned Parenthood.

Most recently, Population Research Institute published a couple of reports accusing CRS of being directly involved in the distribution of abortifacient contraception. According to CRS, “CRS programming does not include the promotion or distribution of artificial family planning or distribution of abortifacients in any country in which we work.” Simply put, both claims cannot be true. Either PRI is incorrect, or CRS is incorrect. So, for the answer, we’ll turn to CRS’ programs and documentation.

In 2008, CRS conducted an evaluation of its project called “Preventing AIDS in Northeast India” (PANI). This evaluation of CRS’ own project was conducted and written by two CRS employees from the headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland—Shannon Senefeld, CRS’ Global Director of Health and HIV, and Jennifer Overton, CRS’ technical advisor for HIV programs. In the evaluation, Senefeld and Overton indicate that one of the “correct ways to protect . . . from HIV” is to use condoms. They also lament that “only” 59 percent and 61.1 percent of surveyed individuals “reported using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse,” and even complained on pages 62 and 63 that

there was almost no reference to full and accurate information about condoms; any references to condoms were made only to explain how the community used to condemn condom use. According to project participants who were interviewed for the evaluation, there is no discussion about condoms at all, even as a prevention method for HIV. This was particularly true in Nagaland where the society appears to be more conservative. It should be noted as well that local CRS staff are not fully aware of CRS’ policy on providing full and accurate information about condoms for prevention of sexually transmitted HIV. (emphasis original)

Page 71 of the PANI evaluation recommends: “There is need for additional training for these initial trainers to ensure correct information trickles down to all the program participants. This includes educating CRS staff and partners on CRS’ position on condoms.”

According to a February 2008 article by the Catholic News Service—the official news agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—CRS “is requiring its foreign partners to give ‘complete and accurate’ information on condoms in all HIV/AIDS programs.” So, it would seem that the PANI evaluation, in complaining that the project does not discuss condom use, is simply following the directives outlined by CRS itself. 

The PANI evaluation isn’t the only place CRS was found to be promoting condom use in its own documentation. In CRS’ sex education program for kids aged 8-12, called Window of Hope, CRS tells kids: “Sex with a condom is not always safe, but correct and consistent use of a condom helps to reduce the risk of getting HIV with an infected person.” In the same document is a script for a puppet show about HIV, conducted by a puppet that represents HIV. On page 174, the puppet says, “Some people use a condom. A condom is a rubber tube that is put on a man’s penis before having sex. If a condom is used correctly, it keeps the fluids from the penis and vagina from mixing and this way keeps ME out of THEIR bodies. Remember that condoms are not always safe, as they may break during sexual intercourse.”

Another of CRS’ programs called “We Stop AIDS,” says: “A condom is a rubberized thin sheath that goes over the penis of a man, forming a barrier between him and his sexual partner. The virus, which is in the semen and female sexual fluids, cannot pass through this sheath. Condoms are 80-90 percent effective when used consistently and correctly.”

In response to an SOP manual for a Vietnamese community center written by CRS, CRS said

CRS does not purchase, promote, or distribute condoms, nor do we provide funding to other organizations for the purchase, promotion, or distribution of condoms. LifeSiteNews recently made us aware of a document that did not conform to this position.

We continue to review all our publications and programs to ensure there is full compliance with this position. We thank LifeSiteNews for pointing out this inconsistency, which will be corrected.

The offending aspects of the document included a scheduled agenda session that answered questions on how to properly use a condom (page 85), and tells seminar instructors (page 164), “Do not forget to provide information on local condom provision.” 

Despite the fact that CRS claims that it does not promote condoms, it is clear from at least these three documents that this claim simply is not true. CRS’ own documents not only provide positive information on condom use, but CRS’ evaluation of the PANI project complains that not enough information is being given on the correct use of condoms and their effectiveness. Unless you are trying to encourage people to use condoms, there is no reason to tell them about how to use them, or about how effective they are. Because of this, CRS cannot claim that it does not promote condoms.

Whether CRS is defending its funding practices on the basis that it isn’t providing fungible money to abortion and birth control promoting organizations, or that in funding such organizations “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work,” or that it is never directly involved in the promotion of birth control, we can see in this one article that CRS fails on all counts. 1) CRS is providing fungible money to MEDiCAM and CORE Group, which directly promote abortion and birth control; 2) CRS is providing millions of dollars to an organization whose sole focus and purpose for existing is the spread of abortion and birth control for the purpose of population control; and 3) CRS’ own documents identify its participation in the promotion of condom use.

As I said in the beginning, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Considering the undeniable facts contained in this article, when an organization like PRI provides evidence that CRS is directly involved in the promotion of birth control and abortifacients, it is not unreasonable to consider that there just might be a fire behind that smoke, too.

Michael Hichborn is director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project.


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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