-- Catholic News Agency
Catholic Relief Services Responds To Criticism Over HIV Document, Employees
BALTIMORE, MD., September 6 (CNA) .- Catholic Relief Services has announced revisions to an HIV prevention document because of its "inappropriate information" about condoms and their use.
"Despite the mistakes, at no point did CRS purchase or distribute condoms. We are revising the document to ensure that it meets our standards as approved by the USCCB," Michael Hill, a senior writer with the relief agency, told CNA Sept. 5.
Hill said the 179-page document was written in 2009 by outside consultants for a Vietnam program that aimed to halt the spread of HIV among intravenous drug users.
"CRS staff prescribed revisions to the document that were not carried out by the external consultant in the final, posted document," he said. This meant that five sentences in the document referred to condom use among couples where one person is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative.
The agency announced the revisions in Aug. 31 in response to a report from LifeSite News.
The relief agency, which is overseen by the U.S. bishops, has 5,000 employees working to help more than 100 million people across the world address poverty, hunger, drought, disease and other emergencies.
LifeSite News has also reported on several of the agency's employees who have records of past employment with agencies that support legal abortion or distribute abortion drugs and condoms.
One reported case also involves an employee's assault on pro-life demonstrators.
Charisse Glassman, a legislative assistant with Catholic Relief Services-Haiti, was charged with assault last year after she drove her car into a female pro-life demonstrator in a crowd at the March for Life in January 2011. Court records say Glassman allegedly laughed several times during the incident.
In response to the questions raised about employees, Michael Hill stated that Catholic Relief Services employees "all are expected to follow Church teachings and doctrines" in their work for the agency.
The agency also aims to hire "the best qualified people for jobs."
"In many cases, that requires that an employee be Catholic, but in many it does not," he said.
Potential employees are informed about the agency's Catholic identity and are asked about their commitment to the agency's "faith-based mission." All job postings also note "fundamental" Catholic teachings.
"If someone has previously worked at an employer with policies that are not in agreement with Catholic teachings, we do not assume that the applicant shares those views," Hill said. "We do ask about their commitment to Catholic teachings to ensure they are a good fit for CRS."
Hill said the agency does not investigate employees' outside activities but it expects employees to "conduct themselves with integrity to CRS' values and its fidelity to Church teachings."
In July, Catholic Relief Services responded to concerns about its funding of CARE, an international humanitarian organization that provides relief to the needy in developing nations but also offers contraception and early abortion-inducing drugs. Catholic Relief Services said the funding was carefully restricted to morally acceptable purposes and was reviewed by a Catholic bioethicist.
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