Featured Image

(LifeSiteNews) – According to a newly released report by the Lepanto Institute and the Population Research Institute, Catholic Relief Services has promoted contraception through the use of condoms as well as gravely sinful sexual activity such as masturbation and has been shown to refer young girls to abortion providers.

The head of the African Bishops’ Communications Committee alerted the African bishops that the activities of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) constitute a grave departure from Catholic teaching on sexual morality and the sanctity of life in response to the report, which included an in-person investigation on the ground at the African offices and sites of CRS and their collaborators.

These findings have been detailed in the lengthy 120-page report of the Lepanto Institute and Population Research Institute, available online.

In a March 6 press conference, Michael Hichborn, head of the Lepanto Institute (LI), and Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute (PRI), presented their findings from the yearlong investigation they conducted scrutinizing the activities and programs spearheaded or sponsored by CRS in three African countries: Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho.

In response to the report, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria’s Diocese of Oyo who serves as the president of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), thanked the Lepanto Institute for its work in alerting the Church in Africa to the scandal of the CRS’ departures from Catholic moral teaching.

Badejo assured Hichborn and Mosher that he would make sure all the bishops of Africa knew of the report, saying, “This will surely help us to keep our ears up, especially in Nigeria, and I will share this with the bishops and others. Pope Benedict’s teaching about not accepting tainted resources and materials for charity purposes remains valid as always. May God vindicate all men and women of goodwill.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland also commented on the report, saying, “I urge everyone to read and take note of the work of Michael Hichborn and his collaborators. The serious concerns he documents about how funds are donated by faithful Catholics and are used in ways that undermine Catholic teachings must be addressed. Michael has been exposing this corruption for years, but his protests and documented concerns have been ignored for the most part. The time to address this is long past, and it is essential that the Church in the United finally acknowledges that this must stop.”

In the executive summary of the report, the Lepanto Institute and the Population Research Institute said that they “initiated the investigation out of concern that CRS had led the implementation of a PEPFAR program called ‘Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored, and Safe women’ (DREAMS) in several African countries, and that in this context was promoting condoms and contraception as well as implementing health referral networks that included abortion and contraception promoters and providers.”

In shocking revelations, the report details that “over the course of a year, LI and PRI received from our investigators thousands of pages of documents, recorded conversations, and photographs that, taken together, reveal that CRS has, in multiple countries, referred girls as young as 10 to abortion and contraception providers, been the ‘prime implementer’ of projects that, through a network of partners, is designed to spread and promote contraception and condoms, and has even (been) corrupting the good morals of young girls with its own materials.”

READ: Catholic Relief Services promises investigation into charges of condom promotion

Among other concerns in Cameroon, the report reveals that “CRS partnered with RENATA, an abortion-minded organization, referring girls to RENATA for sexual and reproductive health (SRH). CRS’ partnership with RENATA, which included funding, appears to have violated the Mexico City Policy then in force, given that RENATA was simultaneously advocating for the legalization of abortion in Cameroon, an activity forbidden to grantees or subgrantees.

The report details that in one of RENATA’s manuals, in a section titled “Abortion,” that:

after facilitating a brief discussion on the definition of abortion and the various types of abortion, the manual simply asks, “What do girls avoid by doing abortion?” It then explains that abortion is legal in Cameroon in cases of rape. In the conclusion of this section, the RENATA manual says: “Participants should understand and make other adolescents know that it is very risky to do abortion by oneself or with the help of friends in the quarter. It is better to go to the hospital.”

The following section of the manual is “all about contraception and condom use, providing a chart explaining the advantages and disadvantages to the use of different types of contraception. The session ends with a discussion on the advantage to using condoms, a condom demonstration, and testimonials regarding condom use.”

Lepanto and the Population Research Institute reported that in Zimbabwe, the “Core Package” of DREAMS, a program implemented by CRS, “includes ‘condom promotion’ and ‘contraceptive mix’ for adolescent girls and young women, with ‘condoms’ for ‘their partners.’”

The report reveals that in addition to the “use of condoms,” “another expected outcome desired by those who designed the DREAMS project is ‘delaying first pregnancy.’ In other words, the promotion of condom use and improved ‘contraceptive mix,’ that is to say, hormonal contraception, is not simply intended to prevent HIV, but also to prevent conception among girls and young women and their partners.”

Further, “CRS’ Pathways partner Childline Zimbabwe, in addition to promoting and providing contraception, also refers girls for abortion.”

The Lepanto Institute and the Population Research Institute found that in Lesotho, “CRS’ 4Children project included pornographic sex education and referred girls to contraception peddlers through the overarching DREAMS project,” and that “the Go Girls! educational manual in use, a copy of which was provided to our local investigators… includes sexually explicit, not to say pornographic, content.”

The report uncovers CRS’ active involvement as an “implementing partner” in “the successor project to DREAMS, which is called Karabo ea Bophelo (KB).” LI and PRI stated that “one of KB’s primary goals, which we repeatedly confirmed in interviews and primary source materials, was to ‘increase contraceptive prevalence’ among Lesotho youth. In other words, it is an anti-natal population control program.”

READ: Catholic Relief Services is a major funder of contraception lobbyists

Hichborn and Mosher said that in the course of their investigation, “Archbishop Gerard Lerotholi of Lesotho echoed the concern of many African bishops we have spoken to over the years when he told our investigators that he couldn’t ‘vouch for CRS’ because CRS neither informs him about its activities in his archdiocese nor takes the views of the local Church into account.”

The investigators declared that “based on our field research in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Cameroon, we can see why CRS would want to shield its activities from scrutiny by the local Church. Its partnerships with the USAID/PEPFAR projects we investigated virtually requires CRS to make grave moral compromises, not to say completely abandon its Catholic identity, in favor of a pose as a secular NGO.”

“This is born out in CRS’ purchase and use of inherently immoral sex and HIV educational materials. Regardless of whether CRS ‘adapts’ certain parts of such materials for its own use or not, the idea that CRS can ‘carve out’ a kind of ‘safe space’ within a gravely immoral curriculum – itself the product of radically pro-abortion agencies devoted to spreading the contraceptive mentality and reducing the birth rate – is flawed and should be abandoned.”

Nor has this been the first time CRS has been found to have radically departed from Catholic teaching on sexual morality and the sanctity of life. Mosher and Hichborn declared in the report:

The gravity of our current findings is further underlined because they confirm that CRS is continuing a long pattern of questionable behavior. Over the past decade the Lepanto Institute and the Population Research Institute, both separately and together, have repeatedly raised concerns about Catholic Relief Services’ involvement in projects that promote pornographic sex education, condoms and contraceptives…

In 2013, Population Research Institute (PRI) published the results of a month-long investigation into CRS projects in Madagascar. PRI’s report found “that CRS is using funding from American Catholics to distribute contraceptive and abortifacient drugs and devices in concert with some of the world’s biggest population control/family planning organizations.”

READ: Catholic Relief Services distributes abortifacients in Madagascar: on-the-ground investigation

“Over the years, other notable Catholic scholars have joined in the criticism. Reacting to reports of CRS promoting condom use, noted theologian Germain Grisez in 2011 called for a formal investigation of CRS. Grisez asked, ‘Why does Catholic Relief Services forbid putting its logo on the ‘educational’ materials it provides about HIV and condoms?’ Grisez called CRS’ policy regarding condoms ‘troubling,’ and rightly questioned the nature of CRS’ partnerships with contraception and abortion-promoting organizations.”

The Lepanto Institute and the Population Research Institute said that “in response to our reports, CRS has repeatedly attempted to deflect and deny that it was in any way complicit in, or responsible for, the objectively immoral aspects of the projects that it implemented.” Such denials were subsequently proven false upon further investigation that included obtaining official government documentation of CRS’ involvement in the programs in question.

READ: Catholic Relief Services listed as partner in Rwanda contraception project

Mosher and Hichborn concluded by expressing

the sincere hope of the Population Research Institute and the Lepanto Institute that the troubling facts contained in this report inspire the bishops of the United States to recognize the inherent danger of allowing its international aid and development agency, Catholic Relief Services, (to) act as an arm of the federal government in carrying out government-funded Sexual and Reproductive Health projects. Such projects always, whether funded under the aegis of PEPFAR or another USAID health program, invariably involve the promotion and/or provision of contraception and condoms and require direct collaboration with organizations that peddle the same.

The Lepanto Institute and the Population Research Institute cited Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, On the Service of Charity, that specifically prohibits the reception of funds from organizations that depart from Catholic teaching on sexual morality:

Art. 10. § 3. In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.

Mosher and Hichborn continued, “There is no doubt that both USAID and PEPFAR – which separately or jointly funded every single project detailed in this report – are organizations that ‘pursue ends contrary to the Church’s teaching.’ It is our view that CRS’s entanglement in such projects, which takes varying forms, makes CRS an accomplice to the moral crimes illustrated herein. Involvement in such programs is an occasion of scandal for the faithful, both in Africa and in the United States.”

Urging Catholics to withhold money from the immoral programs and activities conducted by CRS, the Catholic watchdogs declared, “Our review of CRS’ USAID/PEPFAR practices in several African countries strongly indicates that the concerns that prompted our, and Germain Grisez’s, earlier concerns remain essentially unresolved.”

“At the present time we do not see how lay Catholics can in good conscience support or donate to Catholic Relief Services,” they stated. “We recommend that the bishops of the U.S., both individually and collectively, withdraw their support as well.”


Birth rates are hitting record lows across the West, and extreme pro-abortion policies are to blame