John Westen

U.S. bishops’ relief agency gives $5.3 million to major contraception-providing charity

John Westen
John Westen
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Co-author Angela O’Brien

July 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the epic battle between the American Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration over being forced to pay for contraceptive coverage, the efforts of the bishops have been undermined time and again by individual Catholics and Catholic entities that support contraception. One major example of this is within the Bishops’ own jurisdiction. 

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), “the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” has recently given millions to an organization that doles out contraceptives, including abortifacient ‘emergency contraception.’

The most recent CRS annual returns (2010) indicate that the largest CRS grant — $5.3 million — went to CARE, an international “relief and development organization,” that actively promotes and provides contraceptives for women in developing countries, and supports pro-abortion groups and legislation.

According to the 2010 990s, CRS gave $5,380,466 to CARE, which is noted on page 86 of the filing.

Noted theologian Dr. William Marshner told LifeSiteNews that he believes the CRS’ funding of CARE is “ghastly.”

“Obviously this expenditure of funds on the part of Catholic Relief Services is an immoral use of the money,” he said.

Human Life International, the largest international pro-life Catholic organization is similarly troubled.  There is “no way to support CARE financially that does not also support the problematic work that they do,” Fr. Shenan Boquet told LifeSiteNews.

The HLI president noted that that CARE has made “‘reproductive health’—which typically includes contraception as well as abortion—a cornerstone of their ‘development’ strategies.” Because the revenues that CARE receives are fungible, he said, any funds given them would automatically support their whole program—including abortion lobbying and contraception.

“We hope that CRS reconsiders its funding for CARE and for other groups who have for some time, whether knowingly or not, set themselves against the Church’s view of the dignity of the human person,” said Fr. Boquet.

When asked if, given the evidence on CARE, CRS would end its partnership with the organization, CRS Communications Director John Rivera said “no.” He indicated that concerns had already been raised and dismissed. 

Rivera told LifeSiteNews that CRS doesn’t so much give the money to the organization as act as a “pass-through” for federal funding to such groups, and that the money is given only to projects in line with Catholic teaching.

However, when asked if CRS would similarly issue ‘pass-through’ funding to Planned Parenthood for a morally neutral project, Rivera replied in the negative.  “We would never partner with Planned Parenthood,” he said.

He explained the difference saying, it’s about “the preponderance of work they do.”  Rivera noted that CRS acts on criteria developed by the U.S. bishops. “We’ve given this a lot of consideration, and there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.”

Marshner, the founding professor of theology at Christendom College, took issue with this rationale:

“Well this is like saying that we will fund an organization that does 50 or fewer assassinations a year, but not one that will commit 50 or more assassinations a year. The idea of such a threshold is preposterous. The only defense would be if a group to whom they had given money incidentally, or rarely, or accidentally, or inadvertently did something immoral with it. But, if the group to whom the money is given has a regular practice of using some of their funds in this way, then it is immoral for a Church organization to give money to that outfit.”

In its Mission Statement, CRS claims to “uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life,” and “embody Catholic social and moral teaching.” In April 2009, CRS senior communications manager, Tom Price, told LifeSiteNews: “We would not fund any [abortion] advocacy organization.” 

Price said at the time that CRS’s official policy “on relationships with organizations that carry out activities counter to Church teaching is that we would not partner or fund them. This is very clear policy at CRS. We are an agency of the Catholic Church and we do not just follow Church teachings, we embrace them.”

However, CARE’s provision of contraceptives is explicit. In a statement on International Women’s Day, the CARE website declared: “…CARE instituted community-based distribution systems to make contraceptives available at clients’ doorsteps”.

While claiming that “CARE does not fund, support or perform abortions,” CARE notes its partnership with leading abortion-provider Marie Stopes International (page 4).

CARE also provides abortifacient emergency contraception. “Together with governments and other partners,” the CARE website states, “we are focusing on emergency obstetric care, family planning (including emergency contraception)…”

In an article titled “A Request for President Obama” on the CARE website, CARE clearly expresses its hostility to anti-abortion legislation: “Thankfully, on Election Day, we did not choose four more years of conservative, unsympathetic leaders. Under the previous administration, we simply made it far too difficult for women outside of the U.S. to access reproductive-health and family-planning services. Case in point: In 1984, the Reagan administration established the Mexico City Policy… because it denies foreign organizations receiving U.S. family-planning assistance the right to use their own non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion or counsel, or even to refer abortion or to lobby for the legalization of abortion.”

HLI President Fr. Boquet called for the immediate defunding of CARE, and for a review of its granting policies.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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