Patrick Craine

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Former CRS head Bishop Lynch says pro-lifers ‘attack’ Catholic agencies as ‘money raising scheme’

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida, August 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A bishop who formerly headed Catholic Relief Services has issued a vigorous defense of the relief agency while at the same time accusing its pro-life critics of “attacking” CRS as a “money raising scheme.”

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, who served as chairman of CRS’ board of trustees from 2001 to 2007, made the charge in a Wednesday post on his personal blog that was co-published by CRS and promoted through its media channels.

“From time to time, I suspect when these organizations need money, they try to stir up a hornet’s nest or storm by attacking a Catholic organization, usually falsely accusing them of being anti-life, pro-contraception, either pro or soft on abortion, etc., etc., etc.,” the bishop writes. “The storms start small enough and then occasionally grow in size. It’s simply a money raising scheme with little regard for the human lives which they allege they seek to protect – well maybe it is only pre-born human life in which they are interested.”

Bishop Lynch became known in pro-life circles nationwide in 2005 during the Terri Schiavo crisis when - as the bishop of the diocese in which the crisis raged - he failed to intervene even as the Vatican urged the Florida courts to preserve her life from euthanasia.

A month before Terri’s death, Bishop Lynch issued a statement urging Schiavo’s family to seek “mediation” with Terri’s husband, Michael, even as he fought to remove her access to food and water and prevented a priest from giving her the last sacraments.

Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, later said he held Bishop Lynch more responsible for Terri’s death than he does Michael Schiavo. “When apostolic grace and responsibility are abdicated, innocent people die,” he wrote in a letter to the bishop in 2007.

“Terri’s legacy is one of life and love,” Schindler continued. “Sadly, your legacy will be that of the shepherd that stood silently by as one of his innocent disabled lambs was slowly and needlessly slaughtered by removing her food and water — while you persistently ignored the cries of her family for help.”

In 2000, Bishop Lynch issued guidelines barring parishes from practicing perpetual Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. “Parishes seeking to inaugurate or restore eucharistic devotions should reflect on … their commitment of time and money (stewardship) to social services,” the guidelines read. (The guidelines, still in force, are published by the diocese here.)

In his Wednesday blog post, Bishop Lynch targets a recent series of reports by the pro-life group Population Research Institute, which charge that Catholic Relief Services had been engaged in distributing contraceptives and abortifacients in Madagascar as part of a USAID project. PRI spent a month in the African country in the fall of 2012 conducting interviews with USAID and CRS employees/contractors, as well as clergy and two Archbishops.

Calling PRI an “allegedly pro-life group,” Lynch says the “attacks” on CRS began with them and then “spread to a few other notoriously and consistently wrong entities who ‘thrive’ on attacking the Church or its entities.”

The bishop targets PRI’s investigation in Madagascar and does not address other findings reported by LifeSiteNews, such as CRS’ $13.8 million grant to the pro-abortion group CARE in 2012, or its $2.7 million grant to the abortion marketer Population Services International.

"I'm sure Bishop Lynch has read the motu proprio, On the Service of Charity. That changes everything,” said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute. “CRS should cease being an NGO and report directly to the bishops. Even the Pope has said Catholic charities have to stop acting as NGOs. And guess what, if you take money from USAID, you can't do what is at the heart of charity in the Church, and that is to evangelize.”

On July 31, PRI released strong quotes from Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina backing up their charges. “Even in my own diocese!  Without my knowledge,...they [CRS] were working on an artificial contraception project here,” he said.

The USCCB responded in a statement August 2, saying they had spoke with Archbishop Tsarahazana and he expressed “strong support” for CRS.

In his blog post, Bishop Lynch cites the USCCB statement, but quotes it as though it were a direct quote from the Archbishop:

Now, how about the hierarchy of Madagascar? Do they think CRS is acting contrary to Church teaching? Are they unhappy with the presence and work of CRS in their country? Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana, President of the bishops’ conference of Madagascar expressed “strong support” for CRS and said that the agency is “acting in accord with Catholic teaching and does not provide or facilitate access to contraception or abortion.”

However, as LifeSiteNews noted in an editorial Wednesday, the USCCB statement offered no direct quotes by the Archbishop and does not even indicate that the archbishop believed his quotes to PRI had been in error. It states merely that there had been “some confusion” about CRS’ work in the archdiocese that was “quickly resolved,” and CRS is not now distributing contraceptives.

The program in which CRS was allegedly distributing contraceptives ended July 24th, which would be consistent with the claim that CRS is not currently distributing contraceptives in the archdiocese.

Bishop Lynch alleges that the critics of CRS and other Catholic agencies “never identify their sources but just throw mud up into the air.”

“So who do you wish to believe, an organization that will not identify either its sources of the allegations or name its own members of its Board of Directors or the arm of the Catholic church that saves lives daily throughout the world?” he asks.

In LifeSiteNews’ reports we have backed up our allegations with links to original documentation, quoted commenters by name, and sought responses from CRS before publishing. The Population Research Institute has identified each of the aid workers and clergy they have quoted.

“So this little storm which was headed in a way to harm CRS’s work in Africa has run into a ridge of dry air and will stall,” the bishop concludes. “But when the Population Research Institute or others need money from Catholics who want to believe the worst about their church, its leadership and their service agencies, then it will suck up the mud-filled moisture and try to stoke up another storm.”

Contact:

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
00193 Roma,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
Phone: (011) 39-06-6988-4217
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-5303

Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3357
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3413
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-3409
E-mail: [email protected]

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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
The Editors

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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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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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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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