The Editors

, , , ,

International pro-life group calls for U.S. Bishops to dissolve Catholic Relief Services

The Editors
The Editors
Image

Editor’s Note: The following quotes the hard-hitting 3 pages of conclusions in the Population Research Institute’s 119-page report on its on site investigations of Catholic Relief Services in Madagascar. The conclusions summarize the serious contradictions between CRS practices and its Catholic mission. It also emphasizes credible reasons for dismissing on-going CRS denials of the PRI investigation revelations. See the interview transcripts Part I and Part II of two Madagascar bishops supporting the previous series of articles published on LifeSiteNews regarding PRI’s investigations.

See also  PRI and Stephen Mosher should receive an award for exceptional report on CRS Madagascar scandals

September 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic charity has always been, first and foremost, the responsibility of the Catholic faithful, who in living their Christian lives must follow our Lord’s commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  PRI’s president, as the recipient of the Blessed Frédéric Ozanam Award from the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and who has himself helped to found a number of charitable organizations, has a deep appreciation for this aspect of the Christian calling and a profound respect for those who are involved in such work.  

As Pope Benedict wrote in Deus Caritas Est, such an exercise in charity “needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 20).  And among the most important of such organized charities, as noted in the Kinshasa Declaration, is the “diocesan Caritas . . . [which] unlike the other organizations of lay groups or religious congregations, [is unique] in being the official organ of the bishop for the service of charity.

Thus the African bishops, in concert with the universal Church, underline the indispensable role of the bishop in his diocese in overseeing both the giving and receiving of charity through the official organs of the Church.  

 This reasonable request—that all the official charitable organs of the Church, including CRS, respect and submit to the authority of the bishop in his diocese—constitutes a major stumbling block for CRS.  After all, it receives most of its funding from an organization—USAID—that forbids it to discriminate in favor of one religion over another.  Were “Catholic” Relief Services actually to attempt following the Church’s dictates and carrying out its government-funded programs through the bishop in his diocese, it would shortly thereafter lose its government funding.  

This same consideration accounts for the failure of CRS to favor Catholics in its hiring policies and to preferentially serve the population whose name it bears.  It bewilders African bishops that a “Catholic” charity does not hire Catholics to carry out programs to help fellow Catholics.  Muslim charities help fellow Muslims, they point out, and Baptist charities help fellow Baptists.  What they don’t realize is that the Muslim and Baptist charities rely upon private funds, but that grants from USAID come with nondiscrimination clauses attached.  Let CRS begin hiring only Catholics, and complaints of “bias” in the hiring would be quickly leveled and, if not corrected, contracts would be cancelled.

In fact, it is to avoid the appearance of favoring the Catholic Church in any way that CRS does not work, modestly and efficiently, out of the existing Catholic network of chanceries and parishes.  Instead, like the other secular humanitarian organizations that it partners with, it sets up an expensive, freestanding headquarters in the countries and dioceses in which it operates.  It may, as a matter of courtesy, inform the local bishop of its activities in his diocese, and it may from time to time, send a private donation his way, but it will not submit to his lawful authority.  It can’t, if it wants to continue to receive a half billion dollars from the U.S. Treasury each year.

CRS goes to great lengths to spin these necessities into virtues.  To explain why it does not preferentially serve Catholics in its programs, it loftily boasts of responding “on the basis of need not creed.”  To explain why an ostensibly Catholic organization does not preferentially hire Catholics, it speaks of hiring on the basis of professional qualifications.  Such claims sound plausible until you understand that they have been imposed on CRS by its principal donor, USAID.  

An authentic Catholic charity would understand that it is a guest in the diocese of the local bishop and would work under his authority.  It would hire faithful Catholics and, while not turning away anyone in need, seek above all to serve its fellow Catholics.  That approach would surely please the vast majority of CRS’ private donors, even if it would displease its enormous public one.  And it is an approach that St. Paul specifically endorsed in his letter to the Galatians: “So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith. (Galatians 6:10)

What kind of an organization does CRS want to be? Does it want to fundamentally restructure society as many of the secular humanitarian organizations obviously do?  Does it want to prattle on endlessly about fighting for a more just or a more democratic society like the other humanitarian NGOs?  Or does it want to be a physical expression of the personal encounter with the love of Christ which moves us, as the Cardinal Sarah stated, “generously and freely towards the most disadvantaged so as to give witness to the Trinitarian love.”

Are its employees satisfied to be seen by the supposed beneficiaries of its actions as merely extensions of USAID and the anti-life ideology that it spreads?  Or are they seeking a personal relationship with God through prayer and the frequenting of the sacraments so that they can be true witnesses of the love of Christ and not fall into political or social activism or secularism?  

It is logically incoherent to say, as CRS currently does, that it is only necessary that the organization's employees recognize that CRS is officially Catholic.  Clearly, a Hindu employee of CRS is not going to be “frequenting the sacraments.[1]”  And a former CRS-Madagascar director, who happened to be Jewish, is not going to start going to Confession and being a “true witness of the love of Christ.  If Cardinal Sarah of Cor Unum suggests that employees of Catholic charities should be going to Mass, then those same charities, including CRS, are going to have to start hiring Catholics—faithful Catholics.

These are two fundamentally different visions of what Catholic charity should be. The first, which is espoused by many current CRS employees, is essentially secular and humanitarian.  The second, which is espoused by the Church, is sacred and Trinitarian. The Kinshasa Declaration seems to be speaking directly to CRS about its close relationship with USAID when it warns:  “We can thus not let ourselves be absorbed by those with powerful means – financial, of the mass-media, and of a great manipulative capacity – [who] want to spread, under the cloak of a so-called progress and of the vision of an allegedly universal man, a philosophy of rights that we cannot accept.”  

Taken together, the transcripts of the interviews we carried out in Madagascar, the more diplomatic but equally revealing speeches given by African bishops at Kinshasa, and the brief but incisive Motu Proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI lead to a single conclusion: The official Catholic charities of the North are, at least to many of their supposed “beneficiaries,” no longer recognizably Catholic.  They have devolved into humanitarian relief organizations that are, in their day-to-day operations, indistinguishable from their secular counterparts.  Fundamental structural reforms are required to bring them into conformance with Church teaching.

In Paragraph 10 of the Kinshasa Declaration, the assembled African bishops called “upon our representatives . . . to draw the attention of other members of the Caritas family [to our concerns].”  There is no sign, however, that “other members of the Caritas family,” in particular CRS, have taken meaningful cognizance of the concerns expressed by the African bishops at this meeting.  And, if they have, it is certainly true that they have not shared these concerns with us, the members of the “Catholic community of the United States of America,” to whom the international humanitarian agency CRS supposedly belongs.  

In fact, the only reference to the Kinshasa meeting that a search of the CRS website brings up is a press release entitled, “Catholic Church in Africa 'outraged’ by Congo Violence.” As its title suggests, this one-page release highlighted an armed clash in the Congo that occurred simultaneously with the Kinshasa meeting.  It mentioned only in passing that “The bishops met November 20-22 on the work of Caritas on the continent.” That is the only reference to the Kinshasa meeting, the results of which the African bishops specifically asked to be conveyed to the “other members of the Caritas family”!

CRS continues to engage in the pretense that there is nothing wrong with its current business model.  Here is what a representative of CRS told one member of that American Catholic community who wrote to express concern that at least one African bishop was not at all happy with the American organization:

“We are unaware of any bishops that CRS works with in Africa having refused to work with CRS.  We have a very good working relationship with all of our partners around the world, including the Church, and meet with the bishops regularly to consult on our work and partner on projects.”

This is, purely and simply, a fantasy.  For real-life examples of how far removed it is from reality, remember the remarks of the bishops, priests, and other Catholic officials with whom we spoke in Madagascar, including the president of the Madagascar bishops’ conference.  Almost to a man, they were incensed at the “unequal,” “non-horizontal,” “infantilizing” working relationship that they had with CRS – when they even had a relationship.  As for the “regular” meetings, recall the remarks of the president of the Malagasy Bishops’ Conference about CRS operating out of his sight and behind his back in his own diocese.  Recall the complaints about how it had taken two years for the Malagasy bishops to wrangle a meeting with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)/CRS, and how they had wanted that meeting not for the purpose of congratulating the USCCB/CRS on the “good working relationship” enjoyed by all, but to air their grievances against CRS and to fundamentally alter the one-sided relationship they had with that organization.

Some may conclude that CRS’ refusal to acknowledge its problems—and even its uncharitable attacks on its critics—are merely typical bureaucratic stonewalling.  We disagree.  We believe that the CRS leadership understands, perhaps better than the African bishops, and perhaps even better than the bishops who serve on its board, what is at stake here.  They understand the risks, both to their funding and to their careers, of acknowledging their past failures and embarking upon a process of reform.  They understand that extricating CRS from the smothering secular embrace of USAID will result in the loss of perhaps two-thirds of the organization’s funding.  They understand that re-establishing its identity as a truly Catholic charity means giving up its current pose as a humanitarian NGO and reintegrating it into the Catholic Church under the direct control of the bishops.

They understand that CRS, if it is to be an authentic Catholic charity as demanded by the Motu Proprio, “On the Service of Charity,” will cease to exist in its current form.  

Recommendations

 1.­ That the non-profit corporation known as Catholic Relief Services be dissolved.

 2. That the charitable activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) be carried out by an office, known as International Catholic Charities (ICC), located in the USCCB itself.

 3.  That all programmatic activities carried out by ICC be done in concert with the bishop in the local diocese where the program is located, under his guidance, approval, and supervision.

Only 5 days left!

Support pro-life news. Help us reach our critical spring fundraising goal by April 1!


Advertisement
Featured Image
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, ,

Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

Advertisement
Featured Image
Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Red Alert!

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook