CRS Comments on Archbishop McCarrick and Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

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Motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, Catholic Relief Services issues the following comments addressing recent revelations regarding sexual abuse in the Church:

Archbishop McCarrick

At Catholic Relief Services we are deeply dismayed by the credible sexual abuse charges against Archbishop McCarrick. The Archbishop served on the CRS board as recently as 2014 and he was a director and an officer of the CRS Foundation Board. 

When we first learned of the charges, we took the following steps:

  • We immediately suspended his service on the CRS Foundation Board with his withdrawal from public ministry on June 20, 2018.
  • The Executive Committee of the CRS Board of Directors unanimously voted to relieve Archbishop McCarrick of his position on the CRS Foundation, effective July 30, 2018.
  • We confirmed that no allegations related to Archbishop McCarrick’s program visits with CRS were found.  

We have been asked by media and others if we knew about any travel restrictions or sanctions that may have been imposed on Archbishop McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI. The answer is no. 

Pennsylvania Clergy Grand Jury Report

We are shocked and saddened by the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report and agree with USCCB President, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who has called it a “moral catastrophe.” We grieve for the thousands of victims who have suffered at the hands of spiritual leaders – clergy who we should all be able to trust. We pray the victims find healing and justice.

When the Pennsylvania grand jury released its report, CRS immediately took the following steps:

  • We reviewed the 301 priests named in the report, and the bishops who protected them, to determine if any had an official relationship with CRS.
  • We examined the last 70 years of records of our Board members.

We made the following discoveries:

  • Six former CRS Board members (five of whom are now deceased) were named in the grand jury report as playing a role that allowed abuse to continue.
  • One current CRS Board member was described in the report as having followed Church guidelines for reporting an abuser.
  • A priest named in the grand jury report was active for a brief time as a CRS “Global Fellow” – a program which educates priests about CRS and takes them to projects overseas so they can speak about our work in U.S. churches upon their return.

When we learned in 2016 that the priest named in the grand jury report was under investigation, CRS immediately removed him from the program.

Moving Forward

CRS is committed to protecting the people we serve in the most vulnerable contexts around the world. We have already taken the following steps:

  • We conducted an internal investigation of past whistleblower complaints to make sure they were addressed and resolved appropriately. 
  • We reviewed our current policies and training courses and reminded our staff, as we routinely do, of CRS policies and all of the available options to safely and anonymously voice complaints. 

CRS has rigorous systems in place to ensure our board members, staff, partners, volunteers and beneficiaries can report protection concerns, and those reports trigger prompt investigation and immediate action.  These include:

  • A whistleblower system that is available to all our staff worldwide and administered by a third party.
  • A strict code of conduct — which applies to all CRS employees, consultants, volunteers and interns — makes clear that CRS is committed to creating and maintaining an environment which promotes its core values and prevents abuse and exploitation of all beneficiaries.
  • A harassment policy that states sexual harassment of any kind is not tolerated at CRS. CRS will investigate any complaint of sexual harassment and will take immediate and appropriate disciplinary action if sexual harassment has been found. CRS prohibits any employee from retaliating in any way against anyone who has raised any concern about sexual harassment or discrimination against another individual.
  • A protection policy that clearly prohibits all forms of exploitation and abuse. All staff and affiliates are obligated to report any concern or suspicion of exploitation and abuse of a child or vulnerable adult involving CRS staff, our partner staff and other humanitarian workers.

While we have strong systems in place for preventing and addressing sexual misconduct, we are constantly revisiting and updating our policies and procedures and work to create a culture where staff feel comfortable raising concerns.

CRS’ senior managers around the world are responsible for and committed to communicating and revisiting these policies with their teams on a regular basis to ensure all staff know how to report any concerns. Any violation of our policies or code of conduct results in immediate and appropriate action, including termination.

We pray for the Church that she may seek the full truth in the pursuit of justice, knowing that this is the path to God’s mercy.  We are committed to match our prayers with action that is concrete, decisive and effective to help prevent such abuses in the future.


Bishop Gregory John Mansour
Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn
Chair, Catholic Relief Services Board of Directors

Sean Callahan
President and CEO
Catholic Relief Services