CRS Responds to LifeSiteNews Article about Discussing Faith

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This week, Lifesite News published an article accusing CRS of not being Catholic enough.

The article was based on quotes from CRS executive, Bill O’Keefe, who was interviewed in a CNN blog piece.

In the CNN article, O’Keefe explains that CRS is motivated by the Gospel to embody Catholic social and moral teaching, but does not attempt to convert to Catholicism the people it helps. He says, “We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith," also stating: "We're proud of that."

Below is a full text of the statement we provided to Lifesite News:

CRS is indeed proud that we witness the Church’s mission and the call of the Gospel to care for those in need, regardless of who they are or what they believe, through the work that CRS does every day. This is a central part of the Church’s evangelizing mission, but it does not include proselytizing or requiring that people become Catholic to receive our assistance.

We follow St. Francis of Assisi, who has been reflected in the leadership of Pope Francis, who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Our work is a clear example of not proselytizing, but preaching the Gospel through what we do. We also work in partnership and collaboration with the local Church, which has the primary role of preaching the Gospel locally.

We are proud that as a Catholic agency, we can and do work collaboratively and in a spirit of brotherhood with all people regardless of their faith. This is especially important in communities where the majority of people are not Catholic, where we hire local people to build local capacity, and where all people learn that the Catholic Church works with others in a spirit of welcome and respect.

Beginning with our recruitment process, we inform potential candidates and eventually those who are hired of the importance of our Catholic identity and that they will be required to uphold Catholic teaching in their work. When hired, each employee receives orientation that focuses on the Church’s structure and mission and how our Catholic identity shapes our mission at CRS. Additionally, we have an agency-wide tutorial called "Protecting Life,” that was reviewed by the USCCB Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities, and that informs staff of the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life, contraception and abortion and explains CRS’ requirement that they uphold this teaching in their work.