Catholic Relief Services communications officials said that some reports about the relief agency confused the actions of its staffers with those of non-staff community health workers, who are chosen locally and are part of the Madagascar government's health care system.
The Population Research Institute has stood by its claims, releasing its full report on Sept. 4, including transcripts of its 2012 interviews with Madagascar bishops and almost 40 other individuals.
Steven Mosher, the institute's president, said Sept. 4 the organization conducted its investigation at the behest of several major CRS donors. In August, Mosher characterized the bishops' response to the institute's claims as "blanket denials."
At the conclusion of the institute's full report, Mosher and co-author Anne Roback Morse charged that Catholic Relief Services avoids "the appearance of favoring the Catholic Church in any way." They said that the agency has a policy of not preferentially hiring Catholics and that this is because such a policy is required by its "principal donor," the U.S. Agency for International Aid and Development.
They also criticized the relief agency for its policy of serving the poor throughout the world "on the basis of need not creed" rather than seeking to preferentially serve Catholics.
Mosher and Morse said that an "authentic Catholic charity" would "hire faithful Catholics" and while not turning away others in need, would "seek above all to serve its fellow Catholics."
The U.S. bishops, however, praised the international work of Catholic Relief Services and stressed that the group's present and past policy is "never to distribute or promote artificial contraceptives or abortifacients or to promote abortion."
"We want to make it clear that those making these public critiques, albeit, we hope, in good faith, do not speak for the Catholic Church and we advise the Catholic faithful to exercise caution and consult the CRS website for clarification before endorsing or giving credence to the groups' critiques," the bishops said.
They urged continued support for the relief agency, saying it is committed to "defend human dignity and the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and at every moment in between."