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Catholic Relief Services is a major funder of contraception lobbyists

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NOTE: The following information was provided to Catholic Relief Services in person in April, 2018.  After three months of discussion on the matter, the Lepanto Institute was told that while Lepanto is convinced that CRS should withdraw from InterAction, CRS disagreed.  On at least 4 occasions, Lepanto offered to include any rationale CRS could provide as to how CRS benefits from membership in InterAction, and how CRS could justify providing money it received from pew-sitting Catholics to an organization that directly uses that money to lobby for the expanded access to abortion and contraception.  CRS declined to provide any such rationale, stating instead that the following article does not take into account all aspects of belonging to a group such as InterAction.  

July 23, 2018 (Lepanto Institute) – The majority of the largest international aid and development agencies are all intertwined, like a big net, so it is not uncommon for an investigation of one part of this net to provide leads for new investigations.  While researching the involvement of Catholic organizations in the Sphere Project, the Lepanto Institute discovered three Catholic agencies identified as dues-paying members of an organization that strongly and openly pushes contraception.

Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service, and the International Catholic Migration Commission are all listed as members of InterAction, an alliance organization of NGOs.

InterAction is effectively a think-tank and lobbying organization. According to its “about us” page:

InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader and voice of our community. Because we want real, long-term change, we work smarter: We mobilize our members to think and act collectively, because we know more is possible that way.

Members of InterAction pay annual dues which account for between 25%-30% of its overall operating budget.  What that means is that the money provided to InterAction by its Catholic members is 100% fungible.  In other words, if InterAction is conducting activities which promote intrinsic evils, it is doing so in part with funds coming from faithful Catholics believing their donations are going toward disaster and poverty relief efforts.

According to InterAction’s Dues Policy, annual dues are assessed according to the expenses of the member organization.  Catholic Relief Services’ latest tax form 990 indicates that its expenses for 2016 and 2017 were $970 million and $979 million respectively, which means that its most recent dues fee was $54,000 each of those years.

According to InterAction’s “Benefits” page, members enjoy certain perks by being a dues-paying member of InterAction.

Among these are effective advocacy and representation on their behalf, increased exposure, strong networking and information sharing opportunities, technical and capacity building assistance, plus increased credibility with donors and funders.

While it can be seen that membership in an organization like this might make some things seem easier to do, there is nothing identified on this list of benefits for members that is essential to CRS doing its relief work.  In fact, there is nothing on this page which would hinder CRS’s relief efforts if it were no longer to be a member of InterAction.  But the most interesting thing on this page was this:

InterAction staff help coordinate efforts by members to influence policy and budget priorities in Congress, help provide access to top-level policymakers and provide members with analyses of issues as they impact the humanitarian and development community.

In short, InterAction is conducting lobbying efforts on Capital Hill, and as will be perfectly clear, this lobbying includes the promotion of contraception and homosexuality.

InterAction’s 2018 funding recommendation for Family Planning and Reproductive Health explicitly promotes the spread of contraception.  Under a set of “key facts,” (left) InterAction speaks of women who want to “prevent pregnancy” and yet “face significant barriers to obtaining and using modern contraceptive methods.”  It also speaks of an “unmet need for family planning,” even going so far as to claim that it would help reduce abortion rates.

InterAction claims that:

"FP/RH programs are key interventions which contribute to our shared global health, development and foreign policy goals, including reducing infant and maternal mortality and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV."

Recommending that Congress commit $1.2 billion for contraception alone, InterAction claims that $607.5 million for family planning and reproductive health programs will:

  • Provide 27 million women and couples with contraceptive services and supplies;
  • Avert 6 million unintended pregnancies, including 3 million unplanned births;

Recommendations such as these aren’t surprising, however, when we consider the fact that the president of InterAction came from a major contraception-pushing NGO.  The president of InterAction is Lindsay Coates.  According to InterAction’s profile on her, Coates “was the COO of Population Action International, a leading international NGO advocating for access to family planning services.”  

Beyond its own lobbying efforts, InterAction has published several documents promoting the use of contraception, including abortifacients like IUDs, implants, and so-called “emergency” contraception.

In 2014, InterAction published a document titled, “Aid Works: Family Planning.”  The document’s opening graphic (left) celebrates the results of 45 years-worth of American population control programs overseas.  It shows that because the use of contraception has increased from 10% to 54%, the average fertility rate has dropped from 6 children per woman, to 3.  Listed as an “achievement, the InterAction document says:

"It is estimated that in fiscal year 2012, U.S. assistance made it possible to provide over 30 million women and couples worldwide with family planning – preventing more than 9 million unintended pregnancies."

InterAction’s document even told a “success story,” providing the horrible details of one woman’s struggles through 11 pregnancies and the death of three of her children.  After establishing such a heart-rending story, the document then goes on to explain how this woman was “saved” by contraception:

The couple eagerly attended a presentation where they learned about a wide array of options for the prevention of pregnancy including (among others) oral contraceptives, cycle beads, and implants. After in-depth consultation with a nurse, Kadija chose to get an implant for its long-term efficacy and low cost. Today, Kadija is hopeful. She’s confident that her children will grow up in good health and aims to send her youngest children to school. Kadija speaks often to her friends about the benefits of family planning. Through this type of program, thousands of women like Kadija are now able to better care for themselves and their families.

In September of 2012, InterAction produced a Participant’s Manual for a management of investigations workshop on “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.”  Page 2 of the manual indicates that this training workshop was developed with input from Catholic Relief Services:

The training workshop was developed by Beth Vann with review and input from Daisy Francis at Catholic Relief Services and Angela Wiens at International Medical Corps.

Page 14 of the manual is very quick to establish that in the case of sexual abuse or assault, the victim should be provided emergency contraception (an abortifacient).

Another InterAction document titled “Report The Abuse: Fact Sheet on Post-Sexual Violence Kits” regarding sexual abuse not only encourages the use of abortifacient emergency contraception, but it also recommends the use of Intra Uterine Devices (IUD) to prevent the implantation of a newly created baby in the case of sexual abuse or assault.  In addition to this, the document even recommends Planned Parenthood as a go-to source on the use of emergency contraception and “safe sex” practices for the prevention of HIV.

In December of 2013, InterAction published a document titled “Guiding Principles for International Youth Development.”  The document was produced by an organization called the Alliance for International Youth Development, which partnered with InterAction to “support and advance its mission.”  InterAction even has a page dedicated to the principles established in the Alliance’s document.  Page 7 of this document discusses the general availability of information on contraception for young people (teenagers):

In the case of health programs, youth may receive information and training on available contraceptive methods; however, if they cannot negotiate contraceptive use with their partners then the positive health effects will be limited.

Beginning on page 29 are a set of “Guiding Principles” for youth programs to follow.  In general, these guidelines indicate that teens should have ready access to contraception and comprehensive sex education.  Principle 2 suggests “Integrating life skills with sexual and reproductive health services” in order to “empower youth to make use those services.”

Principle 3 is much more explicit, and even calls for the provision of “safe abortion” and contraception in order to “reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.”

Principle 6 says that “programs should include peer‐to‐peer education, information and services such as condom and contraceptive distribution.”

Beginning on page 12 of this document is a list of recommended resources.  The list includes a publication put out by the International Planned Parenthood Foundation.

In 2016, InterAction published “Foreign Assistance Briefing Book: Critical problems, recommendations and actions for the new administration and the 115th Congress.

Page 11 of the Briefing Book complains that “Young women and adolescents are often unable to access comprehensive sexual education and reproductive health information and services.”  

Page 20 of the Briefing Book encourages Congress to ensure funding for foreign assistance that is directly in line with Sustainable Goal #5 with “sexual and reproductive health education and access” programs.

Pages 22-23, under the heading, “Family Planning and Reproductive Health,” InterAction not only calls for major funding for the expansion of contraception, but even recommends that Congress block any attempt to reinstate the Mexico City policy and pass legislation for its permanent repeal.

There are several other InterAction documents on its website that promote contraception, but even articles it publishes on its own blog promote intrinsic evils.

For instance, in April of 2017, a blog post on InterAction’s website, with the title, “What President Trump's ‘Skinny Budget’ Means for Achieving SDG5” complains about the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (called the Global Gag Rule), the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, and the reduction of funding for “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.”  More to the point, the blog post says:

by sending two ultra-conservative, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBTI, hate groups with the U.S. delegation to CSW (The UN Commission on the Status of Women) is not only an extension of the violation to SDG5.6 but, as our Executive Director Emily Bove says, an “insult to injury” to the tireless work of feminists and women’s rights advocates to secure and uphold these rights worldwide.

Many, many other examples of InterAction’s promotion of contraception and sexual immorality can be easily found throughout InterAction’s website.  InterAction, as a lobbying organization, is using the funds it receives from dues-paying members (including Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service, and International Catholic Migration Commission) to promote the spread of contraception and to fight against efforts to restrict the spread of abortion.  Its own documents promote the use of contraception, and even the president of InterAction has been involved in such.

There simply is no excuse for any organization that calls itself Catholic to have anything to do with an organization like this, but sadly, this isn’t the first time that Catholic Relief Services has been found to be a dues-paying member of an organization that promotes the spread of intrinsic evils.  In 2012, CRS was discovered to be a dues-paying member of COREGroup and MEDiCAM, both of which are highly dedicated to the spread of contraception.  The difference here, however, is that the dues money provided to these two organizations is insignificant when compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars CRS has provided to InterAction.

In 2012, after the USCCB was found to be a dues-paying member of an organization that promoted same-sex "marriage," abortion and contraception, the USCCB quickly withdrew from the organization. It seems clear that the USCCB's own project, Catholic Relief Services, ought to follow suit.  The question is, "Will it?"

Contact Catholic Relief Services (click the link here to see how) and tell them that as long as CRS is a member of InterAction, they will not receive a single cent from you.

And contact your bishop (click here to find your bishop's contact info) and ask him to tell CRS that it must withdraw from InterAction.

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Michael Hichborn

Michael Hichborn, founder and president of the Lepanto Institute, is a well known public figure in the pro-life movement.  Michael spent seven and a half years as American Life League’s Director of the Defend the Faith project, researching and producing annual reports on various Catholic agencies involved with the Culture of Death.  Michael was also the host of the online video series, The American Life League Report.  This popular video series features exposé’s and explanations of the Culture of Death and its work in our country and in our Church.