NAIROBI, Kenya, March 31, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kenya’s bishops have called on Catholics in Canada and the USA to cease funding a clinic in their country run by secular charity Free the Children, which frequently partners with Catholic schools, because the clinic provides contraceptives.
The bishops also contest Free the Children’s claim that the government mandates health facilities to provide contraceptives.
“Considering the evil caused to families and society in Kenya by the use of contraception, Catholic Bishops in Kenya through Catholic Health Commission of KCCB request that donors in Canada and the United States direct their generosity to Catholic health facilities and not to contraception-distributing institutions and programmes such as Free the Children’s Baraka Medical Centre,” the bishops state in a March 26 letter addressed to one Ottawa resident and other “Christians of good will.”
The letter, published on the Socon or Bust blog, was written by Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru, chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya.
The letter comes as concerned Catholic parents in Ottawa have been urging the Ottawa Catholic School Board to end its partnership with Free the Children because of abundant evidence that the charity offers and promotes “family planning” in its clinics and programs.
Students in the OCSB have run Penny Campaigns and Lent fundraisers for Free the Children.
Presented with the letter on Friday, the OCSB again defended its partnership with the organization. Mardi de Kemp, OCSB’s manager of communications, told LifeSiteNews by e-mail, “Our position has not changed on our Board's association with Free the Children.”
The school board has been under fire in recent weeks after LifeSiteNews obtained a letter Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger had written the board’s chair in October admitting that their Baraka Health Clinic does “stock provide [sic] contraceptives to patients.”
The board had previously ignored questions about Free the Children’s work in the area of “family planning.”
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In his letter, Kielburger had claimed that Kenya’s government “mandate[s], by law” all health facilities stock contraceptives. He also claimed that Catholic hospitals and clinics in the area “have contraceptives on hand … as mandated by the government.”
But in their letter the bishops contested Kielburger’s claims. “There have also been claims by Free the Children that all health facilities in Kenya are required by the government to stock and distribute contraceptives for family planning. While the government and other secular health facilities in Kenya provide contraceptives, it is not a requirement by law and as such, Catholic health facilities do not stock or distribute contraceptives for family planning,” the bishops state.
Instead of supporting health facilities that provide contraception, Kenyan Bishops are asking Catholics to support their own “health apostolate” that includes mother and child care as well as instruction in “natural family planning.”
“This Faith for Life Project aims at enhancing maternal, neonatal and child health through enforcement of the pro-family Catholic ethics in health service delivery,” the Bishops state about their project.
The bishops say Catholic ethics in health service must be strengthened “amidst heightened programming by pro-choice organizations that are fostering anti-family principles in Kenya’s health sector.”
John Pacheco of Socon or Bust said the bishops’ letter makes it clear that Catholics who support Free the Children are also supporting contraception in the developing world.
“In light of this development, it would appear that Catholics in North America have been misinformed by Free the Children into financially supporting the distribution of contraceptives,” he wrote on his blog.
“Moreover, if Catholics truly intend to help the people of Kenya, it is doubtful how anyone could justify providing support through a contraception-distributing health facility, when support can just as easily be offered through Catholic facilities that respect the integrity of the person and of their sexuality.”
The Ottawa Catholic School Board passed a policy resolution last year assuring parents that the board would only partner with organizations that “adhere” to the Roman Catholic tradition.
Julian Hanlon, Director of Education
Phone: 613-224-4455 ext 2272
Ted Hurley, Chair
Ottawa Catholic School Board
Contact info for all Ottawa Catholic trustees.