CRS' Response to Lepanto Institute Allegations About Rwanda

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Catholic Relief Services has investigated issues raised by the Lepanto Institute about our work in Rwanda and the evidence indicates that they are unfounded. CRS works faithfully to adhere to Church teaching in everything we do. We recognize our fallibility and encourage constructive criticism that is designed to aid, not undermine, our mission of obeying the Gospel command to help the poor around the world.

CRS has examined project documents and interviewed staff in Rwanda who worked for CRS and partners at the time of the project with Georgetown University. There is no evidence that the objectionable passages Lepanto Institute emphasized in the Georgetown document called My Changing Body were ever used in conjunction with CRS' activities in Rwanda. The results conclude:

  • CRS did not collaborate with Planned Parenthood.
  • CRS did not promote or "normalize" masturbation for teenagers
  • CRS did not promote or encourage the use of condoms or other forms of birth control
  • CRS did not "normalize" homosexuality

Caritas Rwanda and the Georgetown University representatives in Rwanda confirmed that there were collaborative efforts among CRS, Georgetown, diocesan facilitators, and priests to adapt My Changing Body to conform to Catholic teaching.

This is further supported by the Bishop from the Diocese of Butare where the project was implemented. He said, "We confirm that in 2009 and 2010, our parish priests and diocesan facilitators worked in close collaboration with CRS and Georgetown to adapt My Changing Body materials and ensure that all activities were consistent with Catholic teaching and appropriate to the Rwandan context."

CRS' own program, Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life, spread the message throughout Rwanda that abstinence and fidelity were the best and only sure methods of stemming the spread of HIV. Avoiding Risk, Affirming Life, which ran from 2005-2010, was carried out with Caritas Rwanda. CRS conducted research with Georgetown in direct partnership with the Dioceses to adapt My Changing Body to the Rwandan and Catholic context as a complement to this abstinence and fidelity programming and respond to needs for improved communication skills among adolescents and their parents about their changing bodies.

Neither CRS nor Caritas Rwanda asked to be acknowledged in Georgetown University's 2011 report. That acknowledgment in no way constitutes an endorsement by CRS of the contents of the final Georgetown document.