A week ago, the Lepanto Institute published a report showing that the Salesian Missions received federal funding for the implementation of a program called Life Choices. A few days later, the Salesian Missions published a statement denying the entire report without addressing any of the facts. The statement reads as if it was lifted from the Catholic Relief Services "denial of wrong-doing playbook," as it follows the same model: (1) Declare that they take all concerns seriously; (2) Deny any wrongdoing without addressing the facts; (3) Accuse the reporting party of malicious intent; (4) Fill the page with the organization's good works. In part, the Salesian Missions statement says (our comments in bold):
Allegations that programs we support are not in adherence with this are investigated. Salesian Missions has concluded these claims are without merit, as with many other claims made by this organization. (If the claims are without merit, then the Salesian Missions should have no problem illustrating how the information contained in the report is false.)
Salesian Missions is not alone in being the target of false claims from "reports" published by critics with a sole purpose to launch misleading attacks. (Still no actual rebuttal. Please explain where the report is either false or misleading.) We join the Vatican and other respected Catholic organizations who, like us, have been attacked in this manner — and who, like us, are tirelessly dedicated to doing work that helps people in need. We join them in standing up to ongoing false allegations that seek to damage our work.
While it is important that we respond in some way, it is more important that we not let our energy and focus be compromised, because it is needed elsewhere. (In other words, "We're not going to address the facts in the report.") The work that is done by more than 30,000 Salesian missionaries around the globe saves lives and provides hope to millions of children in some of the poorest places on the planet. We are saddened that any attempts would be made to attack the work being done by not only these missionaries but thousands of local staff in places like Africa, which is plagued with unrest and disease.
In addition to this statement, after ChurchMilitant.com republished our initial report, the Salesian Missions Newswire service asked Google to suppress the story in their search rankings. The Salesian Missions Newswire did the same thing after LifeSiteNews published an article on the same story, calling LifeSiteNews a "pseudo-news site" and our report an "inaccurate 'news' story tied to a group that is known for issuing false reports."
Let's review the facts of the report:
In order for the statement by the Salesian Missions to be true, then the USAID and PEPFAR documents which indicate that Life Choices included condom promotion must be false. Furthermore, the manuals listed on the Salesian Life Choices website must be false, and the newsletters produced by children going through the Salesian Life Choices program must also be false. But there's more to this story which was not included in the initial report.
Read the rest at the Lepanto Institute.