Madagascar prelate retracts earlier negative comments about Catholic Relief Services

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On July 25, the Population Research Institute (PRI), a pro-life organization founded by Father Paul Marx and led by Steven Mosher, alleged that CRS, the US bishops’ international relief and development agency, “is using funding from American Catholics to distribute contraceptive and abortifacient drugs and devices in concert with some of the world’s biggest population control/family planning organizations.”

After Catholic Relief Services responded that “this allegation is simply false,” PRI stated on July 31 that its charges “reflect the views of the bishops and clergy of Madagascar” and offered quotes from several priests, as well as the bishops of the nation’s two largest cities.

According to PRI, Archbishop Tsarahazana said:

Even in my own diocese! Without my knowledge … they [CRS] were working on an artificial contraception project here … And, then, the Catholic people around here heard about it and said: “What’s that all about? That’s supposed to be ‘Catholic’??” So, there you have it: They [CRS] were following the instructions of USAID [the US Agency for International Development] …

I’m not sure why, and I don’t want to exaggerate, but maybe 70% of its staff, or even more – is not Catholic; they’re not Catholic … I do understand that about CRS’s commitments to the US Government … but, the question that remains is: Why are there so few Catholics on CRS’s staff … that I don’t understand so well …

Just this year CRS held a very big meeting here in town – a “capacity-building” meeting or something, at a hotel here – and I heard about it only accidentally, when I was up in the [town] of Diego, and somebody told me about the meeting to be held [in my own town]. I was embarrassed; I didn’t know anything about it.

On August 2, the USCCB issued the following statement:

Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana, of the Archdiocese of Toamasina and the president of the episcopal conference of Madagascar, expresses strong support for Catholic Relief Services and confirms that Catholic Relief Services does not provide or facilitate access to contraceptive or abortifacient drugs or devices in his archdiocese.

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Madagascar Archbishop denounces U.S. Bishops’ agency for pushing contraceptives in his diocese

MADAGASCAR, August 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After Catholic Relief Services claimed it is “simply false” that they are distributing abortifacients and contraceptives in Madagascar, the pro-life group that made the charge has released quotes from an archbishop and clergy in the African country supporting their report.

“Even in my own diocese! Without my knowledge,…they [CRS] were working on an artificial contraception project here,” said Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.

As part of a month-long investigation in the fall of 2012, the Population Research Institute interviewed clergy in Madagascar, including two archbishops, who shared grave concerns about CRS’ work in the country.

According to PRI, the bishops went public with them after they had held a private meeting with CRS’ president, Dr. Carolyn Woo, to no avail.

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Submitted by Bob Stanley

Editor’s note: At the risk of being labeled one of Pope Francis’ Pelagians – does anyone remember back when the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” was purely rhetorical?