US Bishops Back Aid Agency Amid Criticism

Affirm Catholic Relief Services Committed to Pro-Life Policies

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Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. bishops’ overseas humanitarian aid agency, is deeply committed «to Church teaching in fulfilling its mission of mercy,» the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee said in a statement today, the first day of its annual fall meeting in Washington.

The bishops strongly endorsed the agency after critics «raised allegations about CRS’ adherence to Church teaching and its identity as a Catholic institution» and questioned its pro-life credentials, the statement said.

«Last year, CRS served more than 100 million people in 91 countries,» the bishops said.

«Those making these public critiques, albeit, we hope, in good faith, do not speak for the Catholic Church and we advise the Catholic faithful to exercise caution and consult the CRS website for clarification before endorsing or giving credence to the groups’ critiques.» The bishops «urged the Catholic faithful to continue to support Catholic Relief Services.»

«The U.S. Catholic bishops stand firmly behind CRS in its commitment to promote and defend human dignity and the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and at every moment in between,» the bishops said.

«Its service around the world makes us all proud,» the bishops added.

Life issues

Specifically, the bishops said, «it is and has been CRS’ policy never to distribute or promote artificial contraceptives or abortifacients or to promote abortion.»

«All of CRS’ life-saving work to provide food and clean water, to fight malaria and other diseases, to promote education, and to help the poor find ways to support themselves and their families fully conform with Catholic teaching,» the statement said.

CRS’ staff training program for its nearly 5,000 staff around the world include an agency-wide tutorial, «Protecting Life,» that informs staff of Church teaching on the sanctity of life, contraception and abortion and explains CRS’ requirement that they uphold the teaching in their work.

CRS vets its activities and partnerships with other groups or governments so that they do not violate Catholic teaching. The agency operates in highly complex and rapidly changing environments and welcomes questions and concerns offered in a spirit of Christian charity. If weaknesses or problems are found assessment and action are undertaken to correct the problem, the bishops said.

CRS represents the U.S. Catholic community at the invitation and with the support of local Church leaders. CRS’ activities must be acceptable to those local Churches, follow their policies and the policies of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. If questions or concerns are raised by the local Church in any countries served, they are addressed and resolved.

The full statement can be found at

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