Catholic Relief Services Responds to Lepanto Institute Publication about Rwanda

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Catholic Relief Services is looking into an issue raised by the Lepanto Institute about a publication that violates Church teachings associated with a CRS program in Rwanda. In light of our commitment to our Catholic identity, CRS is investigating the facts. Below are our findings to date. We will release more information as soon as it becomes available.

  • The Lepanto Institute references a 2011 Georgetown University report which describes their curriculum for adolescents and their parents called My Changing Body.
  • In 2009, Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH), which includes programs on Natural Family Planning, approached CRS and Caritas Rwanda about its interest in conducting research on this curriculum in connection with one of CRS’ programs, Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life.
  • Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life was a 5-year CRS project that promoted abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage as measures to fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
  • Georgetown’s IRH conducted research on its curriculum with Rwandans who were involved in Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life. The curriculum was then further tested and developed by Georgetown ultimately resulting in the My Changing Body document reviewed by the Lepanto Institute.
  • We are currently investigating whether the version of My Changing Body that the Lepanto Institute references, or any other version, was ever used in Rwanda.
  • Since 2010, CRS has dramatically reduced our presence in Rwanda, and many staff members who worked during the time period of Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life are no longer with CRS. As such, our research is taking some time.
  • We continue to reach out to former and current staff -- from CRS, Georgetown University and Caritas Rwanda – and are researching through our archives, in an effort to better understand what took place in Rwanda six years ago.

CRS takes all concerns raised about our programs seriously and reviews them carefully, correcting any problems if needed. CRS is steadfast in our commitment to uphold Catholic teaching throughout our programs. In the last five years, CRS has taken extensive steps to strengthen our systems to ensure that all of our staff are trained on Catholic identity, that our policies for reviewing and vetting programs and related relationships effectively uphold Church teaching, and that all materials used in CRS programs are in compliance with Church teaching.

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