BALTIMORE, Oct. 2, 2013 ( – After American Life League (ALL) released a report Sept. 18th showing Catholic Relief Services gave 86% of its domestic grants in 2012 to groups that distribute contraceptives, the U.S. Bishops’ foreign relief agency charged that the national pro-life group was saying the Church “should not engage with the outside world.”

However, in an open letter published on Monday ALL president Judie Brown says the charge is disingenuous and ALL firmly supports the Catholic agency’s mission to serve the “poorest of the poor.”

The pro-life group’s report on Sept. 18th showed, in 248 pages full of evidence, that CRS’ IRS filings for 2012 indicate the organization gave over $64 million to 23 U.S.-based organizations that commit activities gravely contrary to Catholic moral teaching, including advocating and/or distributing contraception, the abortifacient “morning-after pill,” homosexuality, and abortion.

A week later CRS defended the grants in a statement on its website, calling the report “a rehash of old allegations.”


“The report suggests that CRS should not partner in any work with respected aid agencies like World Vision and Adventist Relief Agency,” CRS wrote. “Cooperation with such groups in areas that do not violate Church teaching over our 70 year history has saved countless lives.”

“ALL’s agenda is clear: CRS and the Church should not engage with the outside world,” they wrote. “We should only work with those with whom we totally agree. The isolation advocated by ALL runs counter to the history of the Church and especially to the spirit of engagement that has been enlivened by Pope Francis.”

“The real scandal would be not to do this work and to allow our brothers and sisters around the world to suffer and die,” they added.

According to Brown, the claim that they believe the Church “should not engage with the outside world” is “simply untrue.”  “All we are asking is that CRS not fund or give a clean image to organizations that attack the culture of life,” she wrote in her open letter.

“Yes, go into the world, but be careful not to become a part of it. Our concern with CRS’ continued funding of organizations like CARE, Save the Children, PSI, the Futures Group, ACDI/VOCA, ADRA, etc.—all of which are thoroughly committed to spreading all forms of birth control—is that CRS is giving millions of dollars and a Catholic stamp of approval to these organizations, simply because they do some good,” she continued. “Funding these groups is a little like paying wolves to tend the sheep.”

“In no way is American Life League suggesting that CRS stop working to serve the poorest of the poor. We are only asking that CRS give as much attention to the preborn children, endangered by the abortifacient drugs and devices dispensed by CRS grantees, as it does to the born babies in danger of malaria,” she wrote.

“CRS has a long history of doing great work, and were it not for the recent discovery that CRS is funding groups that are killing babies and twisting the souls of the people it claims to help, we would only have praise for CRS’ good works,” she continued. “We do not see how terminating its financial ties with organizations like those profiled in our report will in any way prevent CRS from conducting the good work that it has long been known for.”

Brown said she was pleased in the summer of 2012 when CRS affirmed that they would never fund Planned Parenthood because, it said, “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.” But, she said, “every statement CRS has issued defending its funding practices would give CRS justification to fund Planned Parenthood.”

“There is no discernible difference between Planned Parenthood and Population Services International, which manufactures, markets, and distributes ‘safe abortion kits,’ and yet Planned Parenthood is barred from funding while PSI gets $2.8 million from CRS,” she wrote. “What happened to the threshold?”

See ALL’s report documenting CRS’ funding of contraceptive-distributing groups here, CRS’ response to the report here, and ALL’s open letter replying to CRS here.


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