In my last post, I talked about the betrayal of Catholic moral values encouraged by sponsors and speakers Fr. Bryan Hehir featured at his first Social Justice Conference in Boston in 2006. In this multi-part post (due to length of material), we will cover the second conference that happened about six months ago in late 2009.
For those starting with this post, the conference is called, “Moving Towards the Light.” Sponsors and speakers with histories of supporting those who work against the Church have been drawn to Fr. Hehir’s conferences just like flies are attracted to…um, er, well let’s just leave it at that.
The most recent conference, promoted under the auspices of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Countil, took place on October 17, 2009. Prayer and opening remarks were by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, so all of this was happening right in front of the Archbishop of Boston, and Fr. Bryan Hehir was once again the keynote speaker. At this conference, among those Fr. Hehir invited as panelists and speakers were Catholic Relief Services, RENEW International, and Tiziana Dearing (President of Catholic Charities of Boston).
Let’s start with Catholic Relief Services. They are the “official international Catholic relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.” Their mission is to, “assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic Social Teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person.” Sounds great until you consider some of the actions of the organization and their people.
How can Fr. Hehir explain why he feels good about an organization speaking at an official archdiocesan function given the following situations:
Turns out that all of the eight people from Catholic Relief Services who donated personal funds to a presidential campaign in 2008 made their contributions to the pro-abortion candidate Sen. Barack Obama. According to this analysis published in Catholic Culture, federal election records showed that Jennifer Nazaire – Catholic Relief Services’ representative in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea – has donated $1,100 to Emily’s List since 2005. Emily’s List’s sole purpose is to elect candidates who support legalized abortion to office. Most prominent among the Catholic Relief Services donors to Obama is Mark Palmer, executive vice President and CFO of the $597-million agency.
Can someone explain to me how you can promote the sacredness of human life out of one side of your mouth, when you’re donating personal funds to a pro-abortion political candidate from your wallet?
Prominent moral theologian and philosopher Germain Grisez asked the United States Catholic bishops to investigate policies of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which he says surreptitiously promote condom use as part of the charitable agency’s overseas activities.
Grisez, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, wrote in the April 2008 issue of Catholic World Report that CRS distributes “educational” materials to its partners in Africa and other countries that explicitly encourage condom use to prevent the spread of HIV.
The materials include a “how-to” guide to condoms aimed at African populations. In his essay “The Church Betrayed?” Grisez examines documents distributed by CRS to its overseas partners. He found that, although the documents acknowledge Catholic teaching about abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage, they also describe a CRS policy of “providing full and accurate information” about the use and benefits of condoms in the prevention of HIV.
The documents reveal an apparent policy of deception, specifying that the CRS name and logo must not be included in materials promoting condom use “due to the potential sensitivity of the information contained in these materials among Church partners.
Catholic Relief Services Backs Pro-Abortion March
On June 25, 2000, the National Catholic Register reported that Catholic Relief Services was scheduled to participate in the controversial March of Women 2000 – an international anti-poverty coalition that supports abortion-on-demand and homosexual rights. Moria Byrne, a communications officer at Catholic Relief Services headquarters in Baltimore, confirmed that the Catholic charity was sponsoring the March of Women. The only other nominally Catholic group signed on to the march in the United States was Catholics For a Free Choice, a pro-abortion group repudiated by the U.S. bishops and financed in part by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Playboy Foundation.
As a result of the publicity and associated uproar, CRS responded by disavowing the march shortly after the Register article appeared and denying they had ever supported it. To give credit where credit is due, Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, then-President and Chairman of the Board for Catholic Relief Services and the bishops in charge of CRS were quick to dissassociate the agency from the march after the Register story appeared.
CRS Distances Itself From Pro-Abortion March
The bishops statement at the time said, “Catholic Relief Services remains faithful to its position of respecting life in all stages from the moment of conception to natural death.” Nonetheless, information disclosed to the Register at the time also indicated that a CRS staff official had endorsed the March of Women, in writing, as early as June 1997. Other information indicated that CRS staff failed to publicly distance the organization from the march after its sister organization in Canada asked Catholic Relief Services earlier that year to clarify if it was supporting the march.
You’ll have to read the whole story for the details. No one is suggesting CRS’s mission is not a worthwhile one or that the agency is not doing good work to serve the poor. We’re just sharing and exposing this information to the light of day so you can reach your own informed conclusions.
That’s all I have time to share about just one of the organizations that presented at Fr. Bryan Hehir’s 2009 Social Justice Conference. Stay tuned for more on two other speakers/organizations next post.