Report: U.S. Catholic Bishops Relief Agency Funds Major Anti-Life Lobbyists

Demonstrators of both sides of the abortion debate compete for attention near the campus of Notre Dame University on May 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Activists from around the country have gathered in South Bend to protest or defend the university's decision to invite President Barack Obama, who supports …
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Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), pays yearly dues of $54,000 to a lobbying agency which attacks pro-life and pro-family efforts, according to a report released Monday.

CRS funds InterAction, a lobbying group that has pressured congress to expand access to abortifacient contraception and has campaigned against reinstating the pro-life Mexico City policy, urging legislation for its permanent repeal, the Lepanto Institute states in its report.

InterAction calls itself “a united voice for global change,” which would seem to suggest that its member organizations adhere to a common purpose and ideals.

In describing its lobbying efforts, InterAction says it helps “coordinate efforts by members to influence policy and budget priorities in Congress, help provide access to top-level policymakers and provide members with analyses of issues as they impact the humanitarian and development community.”

Lindsay Coates, the president of InterAction, was “the COO of Population Action International, a leading international NGO advocating for access to family planning services,” according her InterAction profile.

Between 25%-30% of InterAction’s operating budget comes from its membership dues, Lepanto says, meaning that money from Catholics who donate to CRS is being used to lobby for expanded access to abortion and contraception.

“The money CRS is paying to InterAction is coming from pew-sitting Catholics who believe their donation is being used to aid the sick and help the poor,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute.  “It is absolutely unconscionable that an organization claiming to be Catholic would be using a portion of those funds to fuel lobbying efforts that result in dead children and broken women.”

Hichborn says he personally met with CRS officials in April and hand delivered this information on InterAction, but after three months of back-and-forth deliberations, CRS insisted that the benefits of membership in InterAction outweigh the negative consequences.

“In 2010, the USCCB withdrew its dues-paying membership from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights because of its pro-abortion and pro-homosexual lobbying efforts,” Hichborn said.  “If the US Bishops are to be consistent, they must withdraw CRS from InterAction.”

Along with Catholic Relief Services, two other prominent Catholic groups—Jesuit Refugee Service and the International Catholic Migration Commission—are also listed as members of InterAction, an alliance organization of NGOs.

According to its website, InterAction is “the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian non-governmental organizations.”

“With more than 160 members operating in every developing country, we work to overcome poverty, exclusion and suffering by advancing social justice and basic dignity for all,” it says.

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