Monday, June 16, 2008

Behind the Scenes

John L. Allen, Jr., at All Things Catholic, has been reporting from the U.S. Catholic Bishops' meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Last April, noted Catholic ethicist Germain Grisez published an article [The Church Betrayed?] in Catholic World Report criticizing CRS [Catholic Relief Services] policies on contraception.

This included "educational materials" on HIV and condoms, materials from which CRS omitted its identifying logo.
In response, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee, chair of the board for CRS, sent an April 23 letter to his fellow bishops insisting that "in no cases does CRS promote, purchase or distribute condoms," and that CRS' positions "are fully in keeping with conference policies."

That doesn't address the issue of whether CRS educational materials comply with those policies. Mr. Allen quotes another, unnamed, bishop as calling Grisez's essay a case of "Ready, Fire, Aim." If so, looks like a lucky shot.
In the wake of the dispute, the Committees on Doctrine and Pro-Life Activities decided to commission an internal critique of the CRS materials. A draft of that critique was discussed during a private session in Orlando and basically approved, though with requests for a bit of "fine-tuning." Once completed, the critique will be sent to Dolan.

Its gist, one source said, is that the CRS materials should be revised along the lines suggested in the Grisez essay.

Update: Archbishop Dolan's letter was more extensively quoted in CRS chairman says agency practices church teachings on condoms, by Regina Linskey, Catholic News Service, April 30, 2008.
Archbishop Dolan said "CRS' name does not appear on HIV pedagogical flip charts because the tools belong not to us, but to the government of Zambia's Ministry of Health."

In fact, he noted, "CRS was able to convince the government of Zambia to include discussions on abstinence, behavior change and fidelity in marriage within the material, information that was absent in previous drafts."

Although CRS' name is not in the flip chart, the church's teachings are included "by virtue of CRS' efforts," he said.


  1. I would be very disappointed to learn that Abp Dolan was parsing.

    VERY disappointed.

  2. Anonymous9:50 PM

    Why dad29? He does it all the time!