BALTIMORE, MD, January 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Catholic Relief Services helped implement a sex education program for overseas adolescents that promotes masturbation, “gender identity,” contraceptives, condom use, and abortifacients, along with promoting Planned Parenthood, a new report by the Lepanto Institute says.
The U.S. bishops’ official international humanitarian agency partnered with Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) in developing the program, called “My Changing Body: Fertility and Puberty Awareness for Young People.”
The program was used with 10-14 year-old Rwandan children beginning in 2009-2010.
“Vile programs like My Changing Body are designed specifically for the eradication of innocence in children,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews.
The Lepanto Institute investigates connections between Catholic organizations and other groups or causes that conflict with or otherwise threaten the Church.
Planned Parenthood is prominently featured among the recommended resources in My Changing Body. In addition to Planned Parenthood’s national and international arms, the report said resources include the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, numerous other pro-abortion and contraception groups, population control groups, at least one gender politics organization, and many groups promoting sexual activity among teens.
“Planned Parenthood is an organizational sexual predator,” Hichborn said.
“Who approved CRS’ involvement with a program based upon Planned Parenthood’s work? Who implemented this program?” he continued. “Everyone who had a hand in this project should be fired from CRS.”
LifeSiteNews contacted CRS for a response on its role in implementing the My Changing Body sex ed program. The relief agency said it was “looking into” Hichborn’s allegations.
“We are currently looking into this accusation and will share the facts as soon as they are available,” CRS Director of Communications Paul Eagle told LifeSiteNews. “Because the program is from several years ago, it may be a few days before we have a response as we discuss this program with current and former staff to gather information.”
My Changing Body gives intimate details on the mechanics of sexual intercourse, and it tells young people that masturbation does not affect virginity, with no mention of Church teaching that such acts are unchaste and immoral.
In fact, the term “masturbation” is used in a positive sense 48 times throughout the My Changing Body program document, including in a group exercise for boys titled My Body Feels Good where facilitators are told to “stress that medical professionals say it is completely normal.”
Contraceptive methods are listed for young people over multiple pages in the program, including abortifacient “emergency contraception” pills, and condom use is encouraged.
The program also promotes acceptance of homosexuality and a fluid conception of gender. “Sometimes a person’s biological gender is not the same as his/her gender identity,” the program reads. “Negative social messages and homophobia in the wider culture can mean that young adolescents who are experiencing sexual attraction to and romantic feelings for someone of their own gender need support so they can clarify their feelings and accept their sexuality.”
CRS was responsible for testing, revising, and implementing the My Changing Body program, the Lepanto Institute report said, citing a 2013 IRH brief stating that CRS and Caritas Rwanda were implementing partners, and a 2011 USAID report stating CRS was involved in the revision and testing of the My Changing Body program. Both CRS and Caritas Rwanda are part of the international network of Caritas organizations overseen by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s top social justice arm.
The same USAID report said CRS and Caritas were responsible for helping the second edition of the My Changing Body program get going in Rwanda.
After the initial implementation, CRS would then back out of the My Changing Body program, Hichborn told LifeSiteNews, and IRH could then take it and integrate it elsewhere.
“IRH has already been working with the Rwandan Ministry of Health on implementing it,” he said, “telling them that they’ve already field tested it in Rwanda with great success.”
The Lepanto Institute revealed how the USAID report indicated that CRS and Caritas combined My Changing Body with programs already in existence. My Changing Body was implemented outside of Church venues, he said, suggesting a pre-emptive attempt to avoid criticism that they were promoting activities against Catholic teaching among Catholics.
“Just how far is CRS willing to go for money?” asked Hichborn. “They consistently tell faithful Catholics that they have to give money to and maintain relationships with abortion and contraception pushing organizations in order to do their development work.”
“If that’s the case, then why is Cross Catholic Outreach able to do the same exact thing CRS does without teaching 10-year-olds about masturbation?” he continued. “It’s because Cross Catholic Outreach doesn’t take government money, nor does it entangle itself in relationships with contraception and abortion providers.”
Leaders of other Catholic organizations joined the Lepanto Institute in criticizing CRS’ involvement in the My Changing Body sex ed program.
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“It's becoming clear that CRS cannot chase ‘the God of Money’ (USAID Funding) and remain faithful to Catholic teaching,” Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher told LifeSiteNews. “Faithful Catholics need to put their donor dollars to work elsewhere.”
American Life League’s Director of Communications Rob Gasper pointed out that with CRS’ involvement in the My Changing Body program in Rwanda, the aid agency played a partnership role identical to that of Planned Parenthood when the abortion giant instigated the My Changing Body program in Guatemala.
“Planned Parenthood in Guatemala (APROFAM) field tested this very same curriculum, and Georgetown IRH credits Planned Parenthood as a resource in its development. That in itself should have set off alarm bells for any Catholic organization involved in promoting this vile program,” Gasper told LifeSiteNews. “Georgetown IRH should be ashamed for creating it, and CRS should be ashamed for helping it spread. Youth should be protected, not mentally molested by Catholic aid organizations.”
“This sex miseducation program is indeed ‘vile,’ and it is troubling to think that CRS had a hand in revising and implementing it,” Stephen Phelan, director of mission communications for Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews. “Since CRS is proud of the fact that it hires non-Catholics to implement their programs, and it boasts that it will not evangelize due to the fact that most of their funding does not come from Catholics, one wonders how ‘Catholic’ its programs are on the ground, and this looks just terrible.”
He referenced papal documents illustrating the expectation for how Catholic charitable groups should conduct their work.
“More and more the wisdom of Pope Benedict’s motu proprio ‘On the Service of Charity’ becomes clear,” Phelan continued. “Catholic aid organizations must sever ties with funders who force the organizations to compromise on the essential, beautiful and just teachings of the Church.”
Hichborn re-emphasized this need for separating Catholic charities from government funding. “The thing is, once you've turned helping the poor into a business model, you've already defeated the purpose. And taking government money in order to do it only sells out the Catholic identity that much faster.”
Find a full listing of LifeSiteNews' coverage of the Ontario government's explicit sex-ed program here.