Investigation of Catholic Relief Services

Executive Summary

The Case

Presenting evidence gleaned from dozens of government documents, this report will demonstrate that in a federally-funded program conducted between 2006 and 2010, Catholic Relief Services received and facilitated the delivery of 2.25 million units of contraception in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Inventory reports found in these carefully vetted and very detailed government documents show that CRS stored and helped distribute Depo Provera (injectable contraception), Lo-femenal and Ovrette (oral contraceptives), Intra Uterine Devices, male and female condoms, IUD insertion kits, and even surgical sterilization kits. The documents also reveal that through CRS’s efforts, “family planning” messaging and commodities were integrated into vaccination, neonatal, PMTCT and  other aspects of the USAID-funded project in question. The documents further reveal that because of the efforts of Catholic Relief Services and its partners, the use of modern birth control methods skyrocketed among a people who had almost no knowledge of such things before the program commenced.

A History of Misleading Statements

The problems with CRS’ aid and development efforts have been discussed at least since 2007, when theologian Germaine Grisez published details of his discovery that CRS was promoting condom use and concealing its activities. At the time, CRS apologized for the problem and went to great lengths to assure the bishops and faithful Catholics that the problem was isolated and would not occur again. Yet in 2012, several investigators discovered that CRS routinely provided tens of millions of dollars to organizations that were distributing contraception, performing surgical sterilizations and committing abortions. CRS did not deny the charges, but insisted its work never included directly financing or participating in the destructive efforts of their partners.

That same year, Life Site News published an article showing that CRS had again published several documents promoting the use of condoms. In a published statement, CRS thanked Life Site News for its report, and announced that it would remove “the document” from its web site. In truth, they removed all twelve documents.

In 2013, CRS responded to a report which illustrated CRS’s part in the distribution of contraception in Madagascar. In their response, CRS said:

“CRS programming does not include the promotion or distribution of artificial family planning or distribution of abortifacients in any country in which we work.”

That same year, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a defense of CRS titled, “Support for Catholic Relief Services: A Statement of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. 8

Conference of Catholic Bishops.” In the statement, the bishops said:

“It is and has been CRS’ policy never to distribute or promote artificial contraceptives or abortifacients or to promote abortion.” (emphasis added)

This report will prove that this statement is completely untrue, and that CRS has misled the bishops into coming to its defense.

In 2015, the Lepanto Institute and Population Research Institute published the results of a joint investigation showing that CRS was the lead organization for a PEPFAR-funded project that contained two contraception-promoting programs. While CRS categorically denied the charges, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) prove that CRS itself reported implementing the programs. CRS again denied the charges in self-contradictory statements that to this day have not been corrected or even addressed.

The report you are reading contains the clearest evidence to date that CRS has directly participated in programs that are not only harmful to those who are supposed to be “helped,” but involve the promotion of gravely immoral activities per the social and moral doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Attacking Critics

Following these and many other investigations of CRS’s activities, CRS has routinely attacked those who have raised concerns, maligned their character and motives, and insisted that their critics are either misrepresenting the truth or simply lying. Sadly, some very good bishops, misled by CRS, have also publicly attacked the organizations.

It is our sincere hope that this report provides ample evidence to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to illustrate the following:

1. CRS has a well-established pattern of not only “working with groups who don’t uphold Catholic moral teaching,” as it often claims in its defense, but also directly participated in programs that promote contraception.

2. CRS has repeatedly misrepresented the nature of this participation to the US bishops and to CRS’ supporters.

3. CRS’ dissembling on previous reports and misleading of bishops has led to a lack of action in addressing these concerns, which has pushed this issue into the public, creating great scandal and leading to unjust attacks on those who raised concerns.

4. The need to bring CRS in line with Catholic social and moral doctrine is urgent, and given their systematic and repeated dishonesty, direct intervention from the bishops is necessary.

In our conclusion, we will provide suggestions for a way forward, recognizing that how this happens is completely and properly at the discretion of the bishops.

Please sign the petition here:


Full Report at: