The Register’s recent article "CRS, Its Partners and the Appearance of Scandal" (NCRegister.com, Aug. 30; Sept. 8 issue, page one), examined a $2.7-million grant that Catholic Relief Services is giving to Population Services International (PSI), which markets "family planning" and abortion drugs in developing countries.
Unfortunately, the article failed, we believe, to provide the Register’s readers with a complete account of the controversy over the PSI grant and made some unsubstantiated claims. In particular, the article failed to give a sufficiently clear picture of PSI’s truly nefarious nature, which, as a result, could downplay the scandal of CRS granting them funds. We were puzzled that the reporter considered PSI’s extensive work in marketing abortion drugs overseas as worthy only of a parenthesis.
Founded in 1970 by pornography baron Phil Harvey, PSI networks and trains local providers throughout the world to offer "safe abortion." The group’s "charity" work largely involves "stimulat[ing] demand" for contraceptives and abortion drugs among the world’s poor and then selling them the products. We provided extensive evidence in our own story.
While PSI decided to get involved in some legitimate health issues, such as safe water and malaria, in the 1980s, the purpose of their doing so was to serve its population-control agenda. In a USAID program description, PSI described its work in "reproductive health" and malaria as "deeply intertwined." "Integrated programs also offer many opportunities to reach target audiences," they wrote.
We were also disappointed to see the article make the following claim in the second paragraph: "Experts consulted by the Register said the critics’ demands extend beyond what Church teaching specifies." The article references only one interview with an expert, however: Christendom College moral theologian William Marshner.
But in an interview with us on Sept. 11, Marshner said no such thing. "I was consulted about the purely moral question; I was not asked about prudential questions or political questions," he said. "I didn’t know the history of PSI taking up the malaria issue. I didn’t know that asking for their help in that way would be opening up a Pandora’s box to get them into place to spread their evil wares."
"If I were asked again about the whole issue, I’d say: Consult the local bishops and follow their advice," he added. "This is a dangerous organization. One would be perhaps better advised to give it no assistance of any kind."
editor in chief
The editor responds: The article "CRS, Its Partners and the Appearance of Scandal: How Catholic Relief Services Determines What Is Morally Acceptable" highlights the grant given to Population Services International by Catholic Relief Services as the latest in a string of concerns about the charity organization’s partnerships. However, the article focuses primarily on a broader issue: the process CRS undertakes to morally assess its partnerships and grants. The interview with William Marshner was about that process, not specifically about the grant to PSI. We respect Marshner’s specific concerns about the PSI grant. The story states that, due to the controversy over the grant to PSI, Catholic Relief Services is reviewing the decision to partner with that organization. Furthermore, the article does cite the concern that organizations like PSI would gain greater influence by "masking [its agenda] within other charitable works."
Words Ring Hollow
Pertinent to your coverage of the crisis in Syria: According to a Washington Post transcript of his speech to the nation on Sept. 10, President Barack Obama used the word "children" no fewer than seven times. In references to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime having "gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children," Obama quite rightly calls this "a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war." Later, he refers to "those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor." His words are solemn, sad and sickening.
But let’s get real. Let us recall and reflect upon certain decisions by this U.S. president when he was an Illinois senator. According to FactCheck.org, "At issue is Obama’s opposition to Illinois legislation in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a ‘born-alive infant’ entitled to legal protection, even if doctors believe it could not survive." Indeed, Obama opposed so-called born-alive bills, which would have permitted medical personnel to minister to and care for a newborn who survived an abortion. In this connection, let us also recognize that such a child had already survived the abortionist’s chemical attack, and yet Obama consistently voted to deny the necessary, available and potentially lifesaving care. And he calls others extremists.
Who can deny that Obama’s behavior on this life issue is at best inconsistent with his strong position on the Syrian government’s chemical-weapons use against its own people? Did not Obama’s cruel votes in Illinois also constitute "a crime against humanity"? Alas, the president’s performance is the height of hypocrisy.
Mineola, New York
Love Stops Violence
Regarding "Pope Francis’ Solemn Plea for Peace" (page one, Sept. 22 issue): For the United States to use military force in Syria in response to the Syrian government’s alleged poisoning of thousands of people would be a "ghastly" mistake. What possible good does it do to add violence to violence?
Let me illustrate what I mean: In 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 150,000 innocent people. Between the years of 1961 and 1971, the United States sprayed Vietnam with Agent Orange; this poison caused the deaths of many thousands of people, caused multitudes of birth defects and other health problems, caused deforestation of large areas in Vietnam and caused extinction of animal species, and it continues to negatively impact the health of both the Vietnamese and Vietnam veterans to this day.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion. Since the Roe v. Wade decision, more than 55 million people, equaling approximately 17.5% of the current population of the United States, have died by their mothers’ "choice."
What would be our reaction if, in response to these glaring U.S. atrocities, another country, such as France or Germany, decided to bomb us? Certainly, there must be some diplomatic or political action that the countries of the world can employ against the Syrian atrocities rather than bombing them. Violence does not stop violence; only love does, as Jesus told us: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone" (John 8:7).
Sister Mary Rose Reddy, DMML
Rochester, New Hampshire
Relative to your ongoing coverage of the pro-life movement in the United States: Recently, I spotted a bumper sticker that read: "I’m Catholic — and I vote." Elsewhere, on the same car, read another sticker that said, simply, "Pro-life." I can assume the owner of that car votes for pro-life candidates.
Unfortunately, that assumption cannot be made about other Catholics, many of whom vote for anti-life candidates simply because they belong to the same political party. These voters do not see a candidate’s pro-abortion position as a dominant, disqualifying issue. They don’t know and/or they don’t care that it is a biological fact that legally induced abortion directly destroys the lives of unborn human beings at a rate of more than a million a year in our country.
To these voters, I remind them of the words of the late, great Dr. Joseph Stanton, godfather of the pro-life movement in Massachusetts: "If a candidate is wrong on abortion, then he is wrong." To these words I would add: If voters who profess a belief in the sanctity of human life backed up that belief by supporting candidates who support life, then legal right-to-life protection would soon be restored in our land to all human beings, born and unborn.
Richard A. Carey
I agree with the letter by Barbara Brooks, where she asked: "Who Are the Faithful?" (Sept. 8 issue). It was excellent when she said, "In these challenging times, it requires us to be courageous and diligent and to practice and profess a strong faith as we deal with the forces that surround, threaten and jeopardize us and the Christian community at large."
What could be more evil than for the Catholic Church to ignore the fact that to ignore God is to violate the First Commandment? And to insult God by neglecting to condemn the censorship of God from the lives and education of children is the grievous sin of blasphemy that violates the Second Commandment.
Yet, since 1962, as the Engel v. Vitali case stated, "God, religion, prayer, Bible reading, creationism and morality" must be censored from public life and the education of children in public schools. What could be more evil than to insult God? The Catechism (2148) states: "Blasphemy consists in utterings against God. … Blasphemy is contrary to respect due to God and his holy name. It is a grave sin; it insults, degrades and profanes God and his sacredness." To neglect to condemn this insulting of God is sinful divisiveness, especially for Catholics.
Robert J. Conlon