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Catholics urged not to participate in CROP Walk

.- The Diocese of Lansing is encouraging Catholics not to participate in the 30-year annual Church World Service CROP Walk, which raises funds to alleviate hunger and poverty worldwide.

In a statement last week, diocese officials said some of the organization’s partner agencies "endorse and/or provide services which are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church."

Although the issue was not specifically mentioned in the statement, Catholic CROP supporters said the objections are based on the charge that part of the CROP proceeds is used for abortion-related funding, reported the Flint Journal Sept. 11.

The statement urges Catholics to join other efforts to help the needy instead.

Rev. John McCullough, executive director and chief executive officer of Church World Service, denied in a March letter that the agency provides “funding or support for abortions anywhere in the world.”

However, in a news release issued last week, Church World Service acknowledged that a part of the overall CWS budget goes to contraceptives.

The Catholic Church does not accept the use of contraception, types of which do have abortifacient properties.

A delegation of five Catholic CROP Walk supporters met with diocesan officials in June to try to clarify the diocese’s position on the issue.

Mary Anne Perrone, a member of St. Mary’s Church in Ann Arbor, was among the delegates. She said the diocese's position "seemed to galvanize our group.” Ann Arbor area collected $60,547, with St. Mary parishioners being the highest contributors.

Sr. Ann Marie Petri, pastoral administrator at St. Joseph Parish, said parishioners will continue to participate in the effort but designate its contributions to Catholic Relief Services.

Michigan has been in the lead of fundraising efforts for CROP for the last 20 years; in 2005, donations exceeded $2.7 million. There was participation in 149 communities and by more than 19,000 individuals. One-quarter of the money raised locally stays in the community.

Church World Service describes itself as a “relief, development, and refugee assistance ministry of 35 Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations in the United States.”

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