Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

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Catholic Relief Services funding at least two pro-abortion groups in Mexico

Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent
Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

MEXICO CITY, February 20, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. bishops' international development agency, has funded at least two organizations in Mexico that LifeSiteNews has verified as opposing pro-life constitutional amendments and supporting the provision of abortion by the government.

The funding of the groups has been confirmed in an e-mail received by LifeSiteNews.com from CRS Director of Communications John Rivera.

The two pro-abortion groups that have received CRS backing in Mexico are the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (FRAYBA), and the Center for Reflection and Action on Labor Issues (CEREAL), both of which are currently advertised as "partners" on CRS's own website.

However, when asked by LifeSiteNews.com, Rivera refused to answer whether CRS was funding other pro-abortion organizations in Mexico, such as the "All Rights for Everyone" National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations (TDT).

He also refused a request asking for a complete list of organizations funded or supported by CRS in Latin America and worldwide.

Rivera admitted to LifeSiteNews.com that CRS has known about the two groups' signatures on a declaration advocating the legalization of abortion since 2009, but continued to fund them at the time, because they claimed that "they neither advocate for nor condone abortion in any way." Rivera did not say, however, if the groups admitted promoting the legalization of abortion and its provision by the government, as well as opposing pro-life state constitutional amendments, all of which LifeSiteNews.com has documented.

FRAYBA's pro-abortion activities

As LifeSiteNews.com has documented in previous reports, FRAYBA has for several years engaged in pro-abortion activism individually and also as a member of the pro-abortion TDT network. In addition, the group has admitted to LifeSiteNews.com in a 2011 interview that it favors the legalization of abortion and even its provision by the government.

In 2008, for example, the group signed a declaration opposing a proposed right-to-life amendment for the state of Jalisco, one that was finally passed two years later.

The group's name appears on numerous other pro-abortion declarations and reports discovered by LifeSiteNews.com, including ones issued in 2006 (p. 9 of pdf, FRAYBA named on p. 3 of pdf), 2009 (p. 1, FRAYBA's signature p. 3), 2010 (pp. 7-10, FRAYBA on p. 1), and 2011 (pp. 22, 23, 47, FRAYBA on p. 2). The documents repeatedly denounce Mexico's state right-to-life amendments and demand the legalization and provision of abortion by the government.

For example, the 2010 declaration complains that the amendments, which protect the life of all from the moment of conception, "ignore the right of women to a dignified life, to personal integrity, to the protection of their health, to respect for their dignity, to the equal protection of the law without any discrimination, to effective recourse, to their private lives, to liberty of conscience, to liberty of thought, to the free choice regarding the course of her life."

In 2012 (pp. 8, footnotes 23, FRAYBA on p. 25) FRAYBA received special thanks for its personal contribution to a pro-abortion report issued by the All Rights for Everyone Network. The organization refused to answer questions about its participation when LifeSiteNews contacted it several months ago.

However, FRAYBA representative Jorge Armando Gomez admitted in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.com in late 2011 that the organization regards abortion as a "right" that should be protected and even provided by the government.

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"We are in favor of the depenalization of abortion because we are against criminalizing women who opt for that,” spokesman Jorge Armando Gomez told LifeSiteNews, who also said that doctors should not be penalized for performing abortions.

"In this sense we say that the government should guarantee the right to health, because quite often abortion is done in Mexico in unhealthy conditions or in hospitals where women aren’t guaranteed a good service.”

"So, the government should provide the service in that case?” LifeSiteNews asked.

"Yes, in the framework of the right to health, like with many other services such as births, care for when we get sick, in the same way this action of opting to abort should be done in good conditions and life should not be endangered."

CEREAL's pro-abortion activities

CEREAL, a worker's rights advocacy group based in Mexico City run by members of the Jesuit order, has also attached its name to several pro-abortion declarations. The group is also a member of the pro-abortion "human rights" coalition TDT (mentioned above in connection to FRAYBA).

CEREAL joined FRAYBA in signing the 2008 protest against a proposed right-to-life amendment to the state constitution of Jalisco. It also joined FRYBA to sign the pro-abortion declarations in 2006, and 2012.

CRS has admitted to LifeSiteNews.com that it continues to "work with" CEREAL but has not elaborated on the statement.

CRS spokesman John Rivera admits knowledge of document, refuses to answer further questions

When asked by e-mail to explain CRS's funding of these two pro-abortion organizations, spokesman John Rivera responded: "In 2009 CRS became aware that these two partners had signed onto a broad United Nation’s report covering a number of human rights issues that included statements supporting the new Mexican abortion law."

"At that time CRS staff investigated the situation received written assurances from both organizations that they neither advocate for nor condone abortion in any way," wrote Rivera.

However, added Rivera, "LifeSite News has raised further allegations that had not previously come to the attention of CRS."

Although Rivera added that "CRS ‘ partner relationship with FRAYBA ended in 2011," he admitted that "CRS does still work with CEREAL and will consult with the Jesuit Province of Mexico regarding any statements or activities at odds with Church teaching."

Over a month-and-a-half following CRS' communication with LifeSiteNews.com in December, this news agency has no further information about CRS' promised "consultation" with the Jesuit Province of Mexico regarding CEREAL. The group also continues to be listed as a "partner" on the CRS website.

Although Rivera claimed in his e-mail to LifeSiteNews.com that CRS no longer has a "partnership" with FRAYBA, he has refused to explain why FRAYBA is still listed on the CRS website as a "partner," and will not say how much the organization has received from CRS. He has also refused to say if CRS is continuing to maintain a relationship with FRAYBA, and to give a complete list of groups in Latin America funded by CRS.

Following two unanswered requests for clarification by e-mail from LifeSiteNews.com, this reporter contacted Rivera directly by telephone to ask for the same information. Rivera, however, refused to answer.

After this reporter pointed out that Rivera had not responded to the e-mail requests, Rivera replied, "Yeah, well we sent the response, and that's our response."

LSN: “But you won't say whether you're funding other groups, specifically..."

Rivera: "We're sticking to the response we sent you."

LSN: "But why don't you want people to know who you're funding? It's a..."

Rivera: "Thank you very much." (Hangs up.)

Contact:

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Washington DC 20017
202-541-3000
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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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