The scandal over at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is heating up to the point of boiling over. So far, we have seen
- CRS admitted to and defended a $5.3 million grant to CARE, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty with artificial birth control
- CRS admitted to and defended its dues-paying membership (including membership on the board of directors) of CORE Group, an organization that pushes artificial birth control in third world countries
- CRS admitted to and defended its dues-paying membership and presence on the steering committee of MEDiCAM, a group fully committed to spreading abortions throughout Cambodia
- CRS admitted to and defended hiring people into leadership positions who previously worked almost exclusively for population-control organizations
In its defense of paying membership dues to MEDiCAM, CRS claimed that it “seeks to advance the common good of the world through the uncommon excellence of our staff, partners and programs.” We at Societas Restituo fail to see how an organization like CARE or MEDiCAM can be called “uncommonly excellent” by any Catholic standard, but the focus of this post will remain on the claim of “uncommon excellence” in its staff.
Last week, Life Site News published a rather damning article about some of CRS’ employees. CRS responded by addressing each employee profiled in the Life Site News article by claiming that all of CRS’ employees carry out “the work of CRS with excellence and compassion while adhering to the tenets of Catholic teaching.” The problem is that when looking at the works of some of these employees, this claim is completely untrue. We’ll start with Daphyne Williams.
According to Daphyne Williams’ Linkedin page, she worked exclusively for pro-abortion organizations prior to working at CRS.
In its defense of Daphyne Williams, CRS says, “As is expected of all staff at CRS, Daphyne has carefully abided by all Church teaching in her work for CRS, adhering to CRS’ strong position against the use of contraceptives and abortions.” If this is the case, then CRS needs to thoroughly address a CRS-published document she helped create which specifically instructs CRS staff to provide information to participants in its program on where to acquire condoms.
In April of 2010, CRS published the “Drug Recovery and Reintegration Standard Operating Procedure Manual.”
Page 85 of this CRS document, which Ms. Williams had a hand in creating, lists a program session on the proper use of condoms.
Page 160 of this manual employs some double-speak about what CRS is allowed to do with regard to condoms. Emphatically, CRS says that it is not allowed to distribute condoms. Ok, good. But then it goes on to say that it is allowed to give “complete and accurate information on harm reduction methods and condoms.” So … CRS can’t give out condoms, but it can talk about how helpful they are in harm reduction?
Page 162 provides an outline for a 30 minute session on “Issues Related to Sex and HIV,” asks a number of questions related to “safe sex,” including whether condom use is considered to be “safe sex” by medical professionals. Page 163 provides the statement that “women have the economic rights to refuse unprotected sex,” and the instructions for CRS staffers conclude with this command: “Do not forget to provide information on local condom provision“.
So, in CRS’ own words, while it cannot distribute condoms itself, it is free to tell people about the “effectiveness” of condoms in “harm reduction” and then tell its clients where they can obtain condoms. Is this the “adherence to Catholic teaching” to which CRS is alluding when it defends the hiring of individuals from pro-abortion organizations?
It should also be noted that as an official CRS document, Daphyne Williams played a relatively small roll to what appears to have been a large effort by MANY CRS employees.
But CRS’ defense of the other employees identified in the Life Site News article are equally untenable. For example, in defending Dr. Sok Pun, CRS claimed that “Dr. Pun’s work with CARE would meet the guidelines of Catholic Church teaching as, of course, does all his work for CRS.”
Bare in mind that Dr. Pun is the CRS employee who sits on the steering committee of MEDiCAM, an organization fully committed to the spread of abortion throughout Cambodia.
This alone should be enough to prove that Dr. Pun is not working in accordance with Church teaching because there is no viable argument that can be made to justify Catholic membership in such a viciously pro-abortion organization. Be that as it may, however, CRS is claiming that Dr. Pun’s work with CARE “would meet the guidelines of Catholic Church teaching.” But in 2002, Dr. Pun complained that the lack of condom use was exacerbating the spread of HIV/AIDS:
But more recently, in addition to having worked for a long time with the population-control organization CARE and actually promoted condom use while employed there, and in addition to his steering committee membership with MEDiCAM, an organization committed to the spread of abortion in Cambodia, Dr. Sok Pun is also on the steering committee of the condom-distributing “HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee (HACC)”. On page 22 of HACC’s 2011 annual report, Dr. Sok Pun is listed as a member of the steering committee, which oversees “general operations, providing strategic direction and developing polices for the Secretariat and Working groups.”
Page 18 of HACC’s annual report boasts that they introduced a new condom to kids called the “Love Condom,” not to mention that HACC also distributed 120,000 condoms to kids as well.
Last night, after Life Site News published a very thoughtful article about the real issues pro-lifers and Catholics across the country have with hiring personnel from population control organizations, John Rivera, CRS’ communications director, published a short statement reiterating CRS’ tired talking points about how it does not participate in the promotion of abortion or contraception. But the problem isn’t just about people coming into CRS … it’s about long-time employees who move on to promote condom use as well.
Meet Steve Kraus, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific. Mr Kraus, in his position at UNAIDS, led efforts on comprehensive condom programming. And this comes after having spent 5 years working at Catholic Relief Services.
Are we to believe that individuals, such as Daphyne Williams and Dr. Sok Pun simply turn off their support for condoms and abortion when they join CRS, and that employees like Steve Kraus suddenly become “pro-contraception” after they leave CRS. And why is CRS continuing to defend its support for terrible organizations like CARE, MEDiCAM, and CORE Group? This kind of dynamic speaks volumes about the culture of Catholic Relief Services and the character of its employees. So, the biggest question of all is, “Can an organization that calls itself ‘Catholic,’ but employs pro-abortion, pro-contraception non-Catholics actually live up to its name?” As the evidence continues to roll out, the answer appears to be “no.”
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