Unlike Development and Peace, U.S. Bishops Development Arm Has Strong Pro-Life Policies
By John Jalsevac
April 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In stark contrast to the Canadian bishops’ official international development arm, Development and Peace (D&P), the United States bishops’ official international development arm, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), has put in place and closely follows strict pro-life policies that ensure that it is not funding pro-abortion or pro-contraception organizations.
Recently, LSN spoke with CRS senior communications manager Tom Price, after LSN discovered that an NGO that is currently lobbying the East Timorese government to legalize abortion was listed as a "partner" on CRS’s website. Price investigated the situation and reported that the information on CRS’s website was significantly outdated, and that CRS had only partnered with the NGO, called Fokupers, between 2003 and 2004, well before its pro-abortion activities began.
However, Price told LSN that if Fokupers had been a CRS partner and it was confirmed that the NGO was involved in any abortion advocacy, CRS would have immediately severed its relationship with the NGO.
"We would not fund any [abortion] advocacy organization," Price said.
"If they are involved in anything like that we would completely rethink a relationship with them. We don’t want to fund any group that’s doing something that’s not completely in line with Church teaching. We take this very seriously."
Price explained 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."
CRS’s Policies Compared to D&P’s
CRS’s policies stand in dramatic contrast to the situation with the official Canadian bishops international development arm. Yesterday LSN reported that despite the fact that Fokupers is currently battling the East Timor bishops over the legalization of abortion, Fokupers is still listed as a current partner of D&P on its most recent program report. D&P did not respond to requests for comment on its support for the abortion-promoting NGO. (See: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/apr/09040708.html)
Early last month LSN broke the news that D&P is supporting five pro-abortion organizations in Mexico. Since then the scandal has metastasized, with solid evidence emerging that D&P funds strongly pro-abortion and pro-contraception groups in Mexico, Brazil, Haiti, Nigeria, Benin, Guinea, Togo, Bolivia and East Timor (See bottom for links to coverage).
When LSN contacted D&P for comment about its initial discoveries about the five pro-abortion Mexican groups, Gilio Brunelli, Director of International Programs at D&P, was unconcerned by the revelations. Brunelli explained that the organization has no policy for or against abortion. He also explained that while D&P would not support specifically pro-abortion projects, it has no problem funding organizations that are involved in pro-abortion advocacy.
"The criterion is not pro-life or pro-abortion," said Brunelli. "If the piece of work they propose to us is something we want to support it is something that is within our parameters, if yes we support them, if not we don’t."
Asked about the fact that money is fungible and therefore can be used to free up other funds for pro-abortion activities, Brunelli acknowledged that "the money is always fungible," adding that it is "not our responsibility" to avoid funding groups that could use the money for such purposes.
D&P’s loose policies have therefore resulted in the massive scandal of an official arm of the Catholic Church funding numerous groups that are working to undermine core Catholic moral values in developing countries around the world.
CRS’s Pro-Life Policies
In order to avoid a similarly devastating scandal, the U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Relief Services has in place numerous mechanisms to ensure that CRS is wholly pro-life in its funding practices.
In the first place CRS always works through and with the permission of the local bishops conference, wherever they are working. This ensures that CRS is never supporting organizations that are working against the Catholic Church in any particular area. If there is a situation where CRS does not work through the local Church, said Price, "it’s because the Church isn’t there. Afghanistan would be an example of that, where any Church infrastructure that was once there has since been destroyed."
When asked if CRS had any real trouble finding development organizations to support that are completely in line with Church teaching, Price said, "No, it’s not a problem finding them. I can’t stress how large and how valuable the work that the Catholic Church, and the Christian churches do in the developing world. It’s huge."
"You might not know it, but of AIDS patients … I think the Catholic Church takes care of fully 25% of them worldwide. If you include Protestant churches, it’s up to something like a third. So the Catholic network is enormous."
Price explained that CRS has little difficulty supporting thoroughly pro-life organizations, even though they are an exponentially larger organization than Development and Peace, supporting far more projects worldwide. He said that "Development and Peace might fund one $100,000 project in Peru. We would likely fund ten or more $100,000 projects. I think in Haiti it’s worth about $14 million."
However, despite the relative sizes of the two organizations, LSN has discovered that a surprisingly large proportion of D&P’s partner organizations are involved in activities seriously contrary to Church teaching.
Price did add, however, that it’s not necessarily easy in every single circumstance to find good Catholic or Christian relief organizations to support. "I’m not saying that there aren’t holes there occasionally, especially in somewhere like Timor, which was rubble a few years ago," he said. "There are often correct opportunities to partner with these non-Catholic agencies." He gave the area of "micro-finance" as an area where CRS might team up with a non-Catholic agency.
But, he added, "We are an agency of the Church, so we are always looking at everything we do through Catholic eyes. That’s just who we are. And we’re very close to the bishops conference in Timor. So we’re not going to partner with any group that’s against it, especially in the area of abortion. That’s a no-go area."
Responding to Accusations of Scandal: CRS and D&P Compared
On occasion, however, CRS has been forced to face up to accusations that it is supporting activities that are not totally in line with Church teaching. But once again, in this area CRS’s methods of damage control stand in stark contrast to those of D&P.
In April 2008 it was revealed by Germain Grisez, professor of Christian ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, that CRS had distributed a flip-chart, designed by the Zambian government, to local church partners in Zambia that included depictions of how to use a condom. After an investigation CRS admitted openly that it had distributed the chart after the Zambian government refused CRS’s requests to alter the chart. CRS apologized for the incident, admitting that the chart should not have been distributed, and took measures to ensure that a similar incident would not occur.
Chairman of Catholic Relief Services Archbishop Timothy Dolan said recently about this, "In retrospect, Professor Grisez did us a favor, and we appreciated his criticisms, because as embarrassed as I am to admit it, he was right on target."
"So, we have withdrawn the document," Archbishop Dolan said, "but we and the board of trustees of CRS didn’t want to stop there; we said, ‘Let’s make sure this mistake is never repeated. And let’s make sure that our people in the field completely comprehend, understand and appreciate the Church’s teaching when it comes to chastity.’"
LSN’s experience with CRS was similarly positive. When LSN informed CRS that one of the partners listed on its website was involved in pro-abortion activities, CRS spokesman Tom Price thanked LSN for the information and immediately began an investigation into the matter.
D&P on the other hand, has responded to LSN’s reports on its support for pro-abortion and pro-contraception organizations by:
- accusing LSN of engaging in "dangerously irresponsible and slanderous ... ill-conceived conjecture and hypothesis"
- denying only that it supports organizations that provide "abortion services" (something that LSN never accused D&P of doing)
- ignoring all LSN reports on D&P’s support for pro-abortion and pro-contraception organizations other than the first report about the groups in Mexico
- and by creating the false impression that LSN’s allegations against the Mexican groups were based upon the fact that they signed a single document that included pro-abortion references, ignoring the plethora of evidence that LSN presented to prove its case.
To contact Development and Peace:
Contact information for every Canadian bishop:
To contact the Canadian Conference for Catholic bishops:
2500 Don Reid Drive
K1H 2J2, Canada
E-mail: [email protected]
Fax: (613) 241-9048
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
IRONY: NGO Funded by Canadian Bishops’ D&P Battles East Timor Bishops over Abortion
"Development and Peace" Funding Sixth Pro-Abortion Organization in Mexico
Hundreds of Thousands in Canadian Lent Collection Money Funding Pro-Abortion Groups in Mexico
Group Funded by Development and Peace Supports Mexico City’s Abortion on Demand Law
Mexican Pro-Life Leader Confirms: Groups Funded by Development and Peace are Pro-Abortion
Canadian Catholic "Development and Peace" Funding Two Abortion Advocacy Groups in Brazil
Development and Peace Also Supporting Pro-Abortion Group in Bolivia: National Catholic Register
Pro-Abortion/Contraception Groups in Africa Receiving Development and Peace Funding
"Development and Peace" Supporting Two Pro-Abortion Organizations in Haiti
Catholic and International Pro-Life Groups Ask Canadian Bishops to Halt Funding to Latin American Pro-Abortion Groups
Toronto Archbishop: Development and Peace Won’t Get Funds if They Support Pro-Abortion Groups
Third And Fourth Canadian Bishops Say Development & Peace Funds to be Held Pending Investigation
Full Text of LifeSiteNews Interview With Gilio Brunelli of Development and Peace