WASHINGTON — Catholic Relief Services, the official overseas relief agency for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says that it worked with a leading Catholic bioethics group in conducting careful reviews to ensure that its funding decisions were in alignment with Church teaching.
"Catholic Relief Services, in communion with the Church, strictly upholds Catholic moral teaching,” the organization said.
“All of the CRS programs and all of the funds used by CRS are entirely consistent with Church teaching.”
In a statement provided to Catholic News Agency, the group responded to recent concerns raised about its funding of CARE, an international humanitarian organization that provides relief to the needy in developing nations but also offers contraception and early abortion-inducing drugs.
Catholic Relief Services said that it “always has taken very seriously decisions we make about the groups with which we collaborate or form partnerships to ensure that we are not violating Church teachings.”
The agency stressed that it promotes “abstinence and natural family planning, as embraced by the Church,” and reiterated that it does not “fund, support or participate in any programming or advocacy that is not in line with Church teaching, including artificial birth control.”
The organization said that concerns over CARE had previously been raised. In response, it teamed with Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center to undertake “a thorough review” of all its partnerships.
The resulting report determined that the activities being reviewed did not “suggest support of or involvement in immoral activities” and that there was “no material cooperation with evil.”
In addition, it found that the funding from Catholic Relief Services was not “fungible,” meaning that there was “little to no risk” of the grant money being used for purposes beyond those listed in the grant request or freeing up money for immoral purposes within the receiving organizations.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center did, however, determine that “there could be a risk of controversy or scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that CRS was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues.”
To prevent such a misunderstanding, Catholic Relief Services worked with the bioethics groups and the bishops to make their adherence to Church teaching clear through their mission statement and communications: “Faithfulness to Church teaching always has been and always will be our policy."