Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is back in the news, embroiled in yet another scandal, when the Lepanto Institute recently showed that a stunning 98 percent of CRS employees' political contributions go to pro-abortion Democrats. Before that, several CRS employees were found to publicly support Planned Parenthood on social media, posting Facebook updates declaring they "stand with Planned Parenthood" — in spite of last year's scandals showing the abortion giant profits off the traffic in aborted baby parts.
CRS is the international charitable arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, founded as a relief service to help the impoverished and unfortunate around the world. It has over the years become instead an engine of the social gospel, tending to the needs of the body while in many cases neglecting those of the soul.
Previous reports showed CRS sending millions to pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-gay groups worldwide. In 2013, CRS gave $2.7 million to Population Services International (PSI), a group founded by a pornographer who used money he obtained from the sex toy industry to establish his organization, whose mission is to promote population control in the Third World. It manufactures and distributes do-it-yourself "safe abortion kits," and makes clear any other charitable work it does (including providing mosquito nets for malaria-ridden areas) is meant as an inroad to push its contraceptive agenda.
And in 2012, reports showed CRS gave $5.3 million to CARE, a group that openly promotes abortion and contraception internationally. CRS has also caused controversy for promoting a sex education program in Kenya that pushed condoms, explicitly against Catholic teaching. And in 2012 CRS was found to be a dues-paying member of COREgroup, another organization that actively promotes contraception.
Each time CRS is caught in these scandals, it offers rationalizations and justifications, claiming the grants aren't fungible, or CRS is forced to partner with groups that don't always agree on Catholic teaching, or it's investigating the situation and revisiting its policies. But year after year, nothing really seems to change.
In 2012, Pope Benedict — responding precisely to such scandals — issued a motu proprio titled "On the Service of Charity" as a rebuke to Catholic charitable organizations that had lost their focus. Laying down new rules, the Holy Father mandated that charitable initiatives were "required to follow Catholic principles in their activity and they may not accept commitments which could in any way affect the observance of those principles."
He also clarified:
It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church's teaching.
Watch the panel discuss the skewed focus in the Church today between body and soul in "The Download—The Corporal Works of Mercy."