FAQ Regarding CRS Activities and Relationships

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  1. How does Catholic Relief Services uphold Catholic Identity? Are all CRS staff Catholic? CRS has an extensive educational program for staff worldwide about our Catholic identity and values. Required courses include Catholic Identity and Protecting Life and Protection, which addresses protecting both children and vulnerable adults. Additional courses, foundational documents, guidance and opportunities for ongoing reflection complement these courses. We follow Catholic teaching: We welcome staff who are not Catholic but who want to support our mission, and we represent the Church by serving many people who are not Catholic.
  2. What oversight do the U.S. bishops and the CRS Board of Directors have over CRS programs or funding to other organizations? CRS is an organization of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CRS Board of Directors, consisting of Catholic bishops and lay leaders, takes very seriously its responsibility to provide oversight and direction to CRS and ensure its full fidelity to its mission and to Catholic moral teaching, including the Church’s teaching on life and family. CRS leadership and staff fully embrace this commitment to the mission and Catholic teaching. Within its oversight responsibility, the CRS Board of Directors approved guidance for all staff regarding the selection and implementation of activities carried out in programs. Additional guidance was approved for managers and directors related to relationships with other organizations. This was done following detailed consultation with the USCCB committees on Pro-Life Activities and Doctrine, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, moral theologians and other Church leaders.

      This process is ongoing. In 2014, the CRS Board of Directors also formed an Advisory Committee on Catholic Identity, or ACCI, to provide expertise and serve as a sounding panel to the board and executive leadership on important issues related to protecting human life and promoting human dignity in accordance with Catholic teaching as these issues arise and as technology continues to evolve.
  3. Who does CRS work with? As a Catholic organization, CRS establishes relationships with Catholic structures at all levels within the U.S. and overseas. These relationships are foundational. In addition to Catholic organizations, CRS also forms long-term, stable partnerships with other public and private entities that share our values and principles, and that are active in international relief and development.

      To reach those most in need, CRS enters into contracts, vending agreements or limited types of engagement with entities that are not consistent with the full range of Catholic teaching. These are limited to time-bound agreements related to carrying out a specific program or activity that fully complies with Catholic teaching. For example, after a natural disaster or in other situations of great suffering, a relationship with organizations that do not fully follow Catholic teaching may be necessary to save lives and reduce human suffering.
  4. CRS provides millions of dollars in funding to other organizations each year. Does CRS only fund activities and organizations that are consistent with Catholic teaching? All funds under the direct control of CRS are used for purposes that are consistent with Catholic teaching. The majority of the organizations CRS is affiliated with share our values and principles. Cooperation with agencies whose missions and purposes involve activities that do not comply with Catholic teaching is clearly limited to specific transactions. These transactions are based on a narrowly defined purchase of goods, services or complementary activities, which are acceptable.
  5. Does CRS funding to organizations that do not comply with Catholic teaching create greater legitimacy for them to operate once CRS support ends? All relationships with agencies whose mission and purposes involve activities that do not comply with Catholic teaching are limited and structured to avoid implying that CRS facilitates, endorses or otherwise enables activities of another entity that violate Catholic teaching.