Patrick Craine

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CRS ended major contract with printer over ties to pro-life group that criticized it

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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BALTIMORE, August 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic Relief Services ended a longstanding relationship with a Virginia printing company last year because of the company’s ties to a pro-life group that has criticized CRS over its million-dollar grants to pro-abortion groups, LifeSiteNews.com has learned.

The news comes as the U.S. Bishops’ agency has been under fire from pro-life leaders and activists in the last month after LifeSiteNews revealed that they gave over $13 million to the pro-abortion group CARE in 2012 and are in the midst of giving a $2.7 million grant to the abortion marketing firm Population Services International.

On July 26, 2012, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, chairman of CRS’ board of directors, wrote a letter to the bishops to inform them that CRS would not renew its contract with AKA Printing and Mailing because it is owned by the family of Judie Brown, president of American Life League (ALL). AKA was founded by Paul Brown, Judie’s husband, and is currently run by their son Hugh Brown.

AKA has been doing business with CRS for over a decade. From 2009 to 2012, AKA was CRS’ largest independent contractor, according to CRS’ 990s, receiving over $7 million in contracts over that period. (See CRS’ 990s here: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

In his letter, Bishop Kicanas says CRS would end its largest printing contract with AKA as of September 30, 2012 after learning “recently” that AKA is owned by Brown’s family and “maintains a close affiliation with ALL.”

"While the board and I welcome all constructive questions about the work of CRS, we have strongly disagreed with the manner used by ALL in raising its concerns, including tactics used against the USCCB, its members, staff, and programs,” the bishop writes.

Pro-life activist Shaun Kenney, who served as executive director at ALL from 2008 to 2010, told LifeSiteNews that he believes Kicanas’ letter is “black and white” evidence that CRS leveraged its relationship with AKA against American Life League.

“It’s abundantly clear CRS put direct pressure on AKA so that they would put direct pressure on ALL. That is not Catholic,” said Kenney, who is a columnist at RedState.com and is no longer associated with ALL. “It doesn’t live up to the standards of charity we should expect from an authentically Catholic organization.”

Kicanas’ July 26, 2012 letter came after Brown had issued a commentary critical of CRS on July 20, 2012 following LifeSiteNews’ first story on July 17, 2012 revealing that CRS was funding the pro-abortion group CARE. However, Kicanas says the decision to end AKA’s contracts was made earlier, at the CRS board meeting in June.

LifeSiteNews discovered Bishop Kicanas’ letter on a parish website August 6th after CRS’ dealings with AKA were made public by a senior CRS official on Facebook earlier this month. LifeSiteNews contacted Bishop Kicanas the same day, August 6th, but has not heard back by press time.

The Facebook comments came from John Rivera, CRS’ Director of Communications, who was responding August 1 to a post by Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith Project. Rivera was initially responding to Hichborn but then had an exchange with Kenney.

Rivera [to Hichborn]:  …how's AKA's business doing these days? And what was the REAL reason your video on CRS was taken down a couple of years ago. As I recall, we received a note of apology from Judie Brown for it.

Kenney: I wonder how long CRS held that over AKA's head in order to pressure ALL to stay silent...

Rivera: I wonder what it says about ALL's integrity that they'd be silent to preserve a printing contract?

Kenney: were they? or were they pressured to do so by CRS? you deny this?

Rivera: We didn't have to. Once Hugh Brown saw that video he flipped out and contacted us immediately to profusely apologize.

Kenney: CRS *never* pressured AKA or ALL? is that you're telling folks? interesting if so.

Rivera: We're not telling folks anything. We've never publicly discussed this. This is just between us

(See a screen cap of the back-and-forth here.)

Asked for comment on the allegations he made about ALL’s integrity via Facebook and why CRS was going public now about its dealings with AKA, Rivera told LifeSiteNews: “My conversation with Michael on my own Facebook page contained my personal comment. CRS has not made any allegations, and has not made any information publicly available.”

Rivera’s comments on Hichborn’s Facebook page were posted under the handle “John Rivera CatholicRelief”. He also has a private account at “John Rivera”.

CRS also declined comment when asked about allegations from Kenney and others that they used financial pressure to silence ALL.

The ALL video that Rivera refers to was published in May 2011. It included a criticism of CRS’ then-president Ken Hackett for his endorsement of The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. In the book and elsewhere, Sachs promotes population control through “family planning” as a solution to poverty.

A couple of days after the video was posted, Hackett sent a letter of complaint addressed to Judie Brown but used Hugh Brown’s fax number at AKA. ALL pulled the video, but they reposted it on August 21, 2012. In a piece on July 12, 2013, Brown said they had been wrong to pull the video but did not mention the AKA connection.

Questioned by LifeSiteNews.com, Judie Brown acknowledged what she called “veiled threats” that AKA and the ALL board had received over criticism of CRS.

She said her decision to pull the video was because they had neglected to reach out personally before going public. “We felt at least before we put it up, we should have asked them for a statement for what we were going to report. We violated the biblical principle of going to your brother first.”

She said they began publicly criticizing CRS a year later, in July 2012, after meeting with them directly and finding there was no interest in mending their ways.

Since neither CRS nor Bishop Kicanas responded to requests for comment, LifeSiteNews went to Brandon Vogt, a prominent Catholic blogger and speaker who has defended CRS’ grants to pro-abortion groups in the past through his blog and Facebook account. Vogt spoke up for the Catholic agency when LifeSiteNews provided him with the information.

“I don't see any evidence of financial pressure,” said Vogt. “The only relevant info comes from John Rivera's private Facebook account, but the exchange contains no indication of financial pressure. In fact, he explicitly denies it when accused: ‘We didn't have to [apply pressure].’”

Asked if there might be a double standard in the fact that CRS defends its multi-million dollar grants to pro-abortion groups but cut off a printing company because of its association with a pro-life group that criticizes it, Vogt responded that he believes the question “paints an extremely misleading picture.”

“CRS grants only go toward noble projects like providing food, water, and healthcare,” he said. “When they work alongside other groups toward these ends, the money used is non-fungible, meaning it cannot be used for objectionable ends. Therefore insinuating that CRS gives grants which promote the culture of death is disingenuous.”

“Even still, I don't see how their decisions regarding grants are relevant to choosing a printing vendor,” he said. “I don't see any problem cutting ties with a company that publicly admonishes your own company, especially when the critique is unfounded. Any secular-business CEO would take the same approach. CRS did not act unjustly or inconsistently by deciding not to renew their printing contract.”

Kenney, however, responded by clarifying that, “ALL doesn’t receive a dime from Catholic Relief Services.” “What [CRS is] doing is going after the family. It’s almost as though they went after your father in order not to print a news article,” he said.

Contact info:

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]

Find contact information for all U.S. Bishops here.

Readers may also comment on Catholic Relief Services’ Facebook page.

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Lisa Bourne

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Opposing gay ‘marriage’ may demand civil disobedience: Louisiana bishop

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By Lisa Bourne

LAFAYETTE, LA, June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishop of the Catholic diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, is one of the nation’s Church leaders to come out strongly against the Supreme Court decision forcing all 50 states to recognize homosexual “marriage”.

Bishop Michael Jarrell reminded Catholics in a statement that the judiciary does not have the power to redefine marriage, and he opened the door to civil disobedience as a possible response to the June 26 Supreme Court ruling.

“Let me state very plainly that no human court has the authority to change what God has written into the law of creation,” Bishop Jarrell wrote in his statement. “This ruling is irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law.”

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

“The marital covenant was established by God with its own proper nature and laws,” he continued.

Recognizing the tide of religious persecution across the country against those who hold the Biblical view of marriage, Bishop Jarrell addressed the issue of living one’s Catholic faith in light of the Supreme Court decision, and gave the green light to refuse to comply, even if it means breaking the law.

“I realize that this ruling will create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office,” Bishop Jarrell said. “In some cases civil disobedience may be a proper response.”

In an exercise of episcopal authority, the Lafayette prelate also issued a mandate that no representative of the diocese would enable homosexual “marriage” in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

“No priest or deacon of this Diocese may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriage,” he declared. “No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or facilities belonging to benevolent orders may be used for the solemnization of same-sex marriage.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The bishop also cautioned against Catholics showing support for homosexual “marriage” by their presence at same-sex “wedding”.

“All Catholics are urged not to attend same-sex ceremonies,” he said.

The bishop said he hoped this October’s Ordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican would address issues brought about by “the alteration of the traditional law about marriage.”

Bishop Jarrell also expressed deep sadness at the Supreme Court ruling, and said while Catholics have great respect for everyone as children of God, the justices’ decision had no legal or moral foundation.

“As Catholics we have a profound respect for the dignity of all God’s children,” he stated. “Nevertheless there is no basis in law or in nature for altering the traditional definition of marriage, established by God from the beginning.”

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Lisa Bourne

Catholic News Service gives platform to head of union that gave hundreds of millions to pro-abort politicians

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By Lisa Bourne

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The news service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has published an article by the head of an organization that has given hundreds of millions of dollars to elect pro-abortion politicians.

Americans should listen to Pope Francis, at least when it comes to his message on poverty and economics, according to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, an organization that has done arguably more to elect pro-abortion politicians than any other group in the last 50 years.

The union chief made his case in a June 22 guest column for Catholic News Service (CNS).

The AFL-CIO donated $200 million to Democratic politicians in 2008 alone.

LifeSiteNews contacted Catholic News Service about Trumka’s column in light of the AFL-CIO’s support for abortion, contraception, and homosexual “marriage," but CNS declined to comment.

On his way in the piece to pronouncing unity between the Church and big labor, Trumka touts Pope Francis’s recently reported high approval rating and the “newfound vigor” the Roman Catholic Church has added to its “traditional social doctrine” since his election.

“For much of the last century and more, the labor movement and the Catholic Church have stood together in solidarity for people who labor for a living,” he wrote in the CNS column. “Pope Francis lives and breathes this tradition.”

“Together, the Catholic Church and the labor movement stand for a new moral and political order,” he said.

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In his June 22 piece for Catholic News Service he wrote about helping to ease the pain and suffering for others as his reasons for praising Pope Francis.

“We believe in the duty to ease pain and to offer comfort to those who are suffering -- and not just with kind words, but with action,” Trumka opined. “That is why I am so heartened by our Holy Father Pope Francis.

Trumka, raised Catholic, writes his column for CNS with a Catholic voice, but the union he heads up supports contraception and homosexual “marriage”, along with abortion.

While the Church today holds The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers among its themes of Catholic Social Teaching, giving voice in the Bishops’ own news agency to the representative of an organization which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to pro-abortion politicians contradicts the USCCB’s very own document teaching on the need for Catholics to act in support of Catholic principles and policies in public life.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the USCCB’s Catholics in Political Life states. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The nation’s top union also supports the so-called “free” birth control imposed as part of the HHS mandate, something many groups – including the USCCB itself – resisted being forced to provide.

“Women have fought hard for the right to safe, legal reproductive health services and the freedom to exercise that right,” the AFL-CIO Statement on Women's Access to Quality and Affordable Reproductive Health Care says. “The Affordable Care Act provides that women will receive preventative health care benefits, including FDA-approved methods of birth control, without co-pays or deductibles.”

Many of those forms of “birth control” may act as abortifacients.

The AFL-CIO’s support for abortion and birth control isn’t where the union’s advocacy for anti-Catholic initiatives stops. It encompasses homosexual activism as well.

Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization that represents LGBT union members and their “allies,” that “organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community to further social and economic justice.”

Pride at Work is an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO

The deeds of the AFL-CIO as an organization are not the sole illustration of how Trumka’s CNS appearance sends a conflicting message with regard to Church principles, but also statements embracing and advocating principles in direct contrast to the faith by the man himself.

“Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality,” Trumka said in a statement supporting homosexual “marriage”.

When the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 defending marriage were overturned, he said they never should have been adopted in the first place.

“The Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were radical and divisive laws that never should have been,” Trumka said. “Now, we can begin to fully clear the dark legal cloud that has hung over our nation.”

Trumka employs a childhood anecdote to frame his article complete with violence against his grandfather on the part of the profit-focused mining company that “owned everything,” in his Pennsylvania hometown.

“Pope Francis speaks for the church I grew up in when he calls for an organized moral response to the injustices of modern capitalism,” stated Trumka, whose salary level is around $300,000 per year according to unionfacts.com.

Trumka has been implicated in encouraging intimidation and deception to advance union goals, according to a report from the National Legal and Policy Center.

Trumka has also been accused of legitimizing violence. During a multi-state coal miners’ strike organized by the United Mine Workers in 1993, Trumka, as union president, ordered more than 17,000 miners to walk off the job, and explicitly told strikers to "kick the s--- out of" employees and mine operators defying union demands.

Homes were vandalized, shots were fired at a mine office, and power was cut to one mine, temporarily trapping 93 miners underground.

A non-union contractor, Eddie York, was murdered by a union member, shot in the back of the head as he drove past strikers at a West Virginia work site. Those trying to rescue the victim were attacked by a group of union members. The union member who shot the contractor went to jail, but no one else was disciplined for what took place.

Trumka told Virginian-Pilot in September 1993 regarding the incident, “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.”

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Supreme Court suspends Texas law that would have closed half of its abortion facilities

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – About half of the abortion facilities in Texas got a reprieve from the Supreme Court on its last day in session.

Justices ruled 5-4 that, right now, the state of Texas may not enforce health protection laws that would have put all but nine of the state's abortion offices out of business. The court's conservative bloc – Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – objected, but Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive vote with the court's liberals.

At issue is whether the state may require abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and require abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety codes as other ambulatory surgical centers.

The temporary stay of Senate Bill 5 lasts until the justices decide whether they will hear an appeal from the abortion industry, which argues the law's provisions would unduly restrict a woman's access to abortion-on-demand.

“The U.S. Supreme Court was swayed, not for the first time in a week, by illogical arguments,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “By actively lobbying against common sense regulations that would make sure women have access to ‘safe, legal and rare’ abortions, Planned Parenthood and their allies are making a mockery of women’s health care.”

“The abortion industry cares only for their bottom line, and women and their prenatal children are merely dollar signs in their business cycle,” Hawkins said.

"Women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation,” said Lila Rose of Live Action. “Contrary to what big abortion organizations would have us believe, the possible closure of abortion facilities is due to the refusal of these corporations to adhere to sensible and ordinary medical precautions. We look forward to the day that both the legislature and the Courts use their power to protect the most vulnerable among us."

State pro-life leaders regret the loopholes that they say put women's health at risk.

“Unfortunately, women who do not have abortions at any of the nine operating ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions will continue to be subjected to substandard medical care,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.

The ruling does not permanently enjoin the state. It does not even guarantee justices will hear the case.

Should they decline, the law will go into effect in its entirety.

Last October, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to implement these measures while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered its decision in a 6-3 verdict. However, it added that the state must allow abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen to operate subpar operations, defying greater protections for women, because closing those facilities would require women to drive a great distance to the next nearest abortion facility.

Earlier this month, a three-panel judge of the appeals court, based in New Orleans, upheld the health regulations. All three judges had been appointed by President George W. Bush.

Had the full requirements gone into effect, half of all the remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have closed.

The left-wing website ThinkProgress worried, if the High Court upheld the decision, it would mean that “Roe v. Wade is almost entirely dead.”

Today, representatives of the abortion lobby felt relief. "Our Constitution rightly protects women from laws that would create barriers to safe and legal abortion care, but Texas politicians have tried to sneak around the Constitution with sham regulations designed to close clinics’ doors," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a pro-life Republican, vowed to “continue to fight for higher-quality health care standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn.”

“I’m confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law,” he added.

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