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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholic Relief Services promotes condom use, according to a new report from the Lepanto Institute, and one U.S. bishop is calling for an investigation into the findings.
This week, the Lepanto Institute shed light on a number of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) documents that discuss and encourage the use of condoms in the name of combating the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
CRS is an international charity founded by the U.S. bishops' conference.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas drew attention to the analysis. He stated on Twitter Wednesday, "This report by the Lepanto Institute must be proven to be false. If what Lepanto says is accurate then we should call for a thorough investigation of CRS."
The confusion must stop," Bp. Strickland continued. "Promoting contraception is immoral and we are reaping sin's devastation."
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, told Church Militant on Wednesday, "In the past, the only times a bishop ever addressed our reports in public was to criticize or dismiss them. This really is the first time a bishop has publicly taken seriously our investigations and reports."
He also said, "The truth is, I'm a nobody who simply discovered a serious problem. And like a faithful dog, I have barked and barked at this in the hopes that someone in a position to do something will notice and follow through. Bishop Strickland is that someone."
Hichborn drew attention to a response to Bp. Strickland's tweet, which seems to give credence to Lepanto Institute's reporting.
That response was from Twitter user "della chiesa," who stated, "Unfortunately my beloved Bishop, this may be true. Here in Kenya, I remember visiting a Catholic relief agency offering HIV testing and counseling and I remember being told that condom is an option."
The Lepanto Institute's report highlighted a document with a 2018 copyright for CRS titled, "Integrating Violence Against Children Prevention and Response Interventions Within PEPFAR HIV Pediatric Testing, Care and Treatment."
A footnote in that document points to condoms when it states, "In Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, sexual and physical violence in childhood was linked to inconsistent condom use and increased number of sexual partners."
Among other documentation, the Lepanto Institute highlighted a 2017 PowerPoint presentation given on behalf of CRS, which stated in French, "Condom use should be correct and consistent for any occasional sexual intercourse or with a non-regular partner."
Hichborn stated in a press release Monday, "Catholic Relief Services has long-maintained that it never promotes condom use in its programs, but these documents prove otherwise."
"Sadly, this isn't even the worst of what we discovered in our year-long investigation," he added.
Hichborn said elsewhere in the press release, "We'll be revealing a lot more in subsequent reports, but this is one of the primary reasons we're asking bishops of the United States to withdraw their support for CRS until there is an independent, third-party investigation of CRS, and CRS is forbidden from receiving federal money."
An online petition was launched on Monday calling on the U.S. bishops to stop CRS's condom promotion. The petition garnered 3,000 signatures as of press time.
Addressing the bishops of the United States, the text of the petition argues, "CRS should not benefit from unsuspecting Catholics in the pews, who think that their donations are only going to feed impoverished Africans."
The petition also states, "In view of the clear violation of Catholic moral teaching and in view of their participation in gravely immoral programs, we are asking you to withdraw all support from CRS."