By REY FLORES
At one time or another, we have been asked to help the poor, whether it was through the Church or being asked directly by a beggar.
Once I approached a woman and her children at the corner of State and Lake Streets in downtown Chicago as mom was rummaging through a trash can looking for something to eat for her children. I gave her the last 20 dollars I had and prayed for them.
Another time recently at Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles, I saw a man also digging through a trash can looking for anything he could eat. I had just gotten my cheeseburger and fries from the Pier Burger when I saw him and I just couldn’t take that first bite, I had to give it to him.
One time I was approached by a homeless man who simply stated that he needed the money to buy some beer. I gave him a dollar or two just because of his honesty.
Then there’s the “Weed Man in a Box” in New York City’s zoo-like Times Square who asked me for a buck or two so he could buy some weed. Again, at least he was being honest as to what he would be using his earnings on. For the record, I did not give him a single penny.
The reason I share all of this with you is simply to make the point that just because someone says they need the money to eat or to help relieve their poverty through your benevolence and generosity, there is almost always more to the picture.
At least the beer money beggar and the weed man told me what they wanted to use the money for, which isn’t always necessarily the case with the USCCB’s Catholic Relief Services and its Operation Rice Bowl (ORB).
As most of you know, ORB is the collection that happens every Lent where we are asked by the bishops to put our spare change in the clever little cardboard “bowls” with images of emaciated Third World children. Our donations are supposed to help bring food, medicine, and clean water to those in need, to help build schools and housing, and to help support natural disaster relief efforts.
Sadly, the CRS through its ORB program has been embroiled in some troubling activities that have some of the monies collected going to partner organizations like Population Services International, Institute of Human Virology, and CARE International.
American Life League released a detailed report on the CRS which can be accessed on ALL’s web site at www.all.org: http://www.all.org/~dcurrier/docs/CRS_Grants_for_FY_2012.pdf. The report was issued in September 2013. It cites dollar amounts given to the various organizations.
That ALL report says: “To be clear, CRS is providing funding and partnering with organizations that directly subvert Catholic moral teaching. The activities of the CRS grantees detailed in this report are not due to coalitions, associations, or tenuous relationships — they are performed directly by CRS grantees. In all cases, these activities represent the focus of these agencies, and in many instances, they are the preponderance of the grantees’ work.”
While in a recent interview, I asked USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz why we continue to have these problems with the CRS, and some of my colleagues have also spoken directly with some high-ranking bishops involved with the CRS, I think that we are still unable as Catholics to be assured that our ORB donations are being used according to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life.
I respect what Archbishop Kurtz has told me and some of the statements being made by the CRS at the USCCB, but the fact of the matter is that Third World countries are big business for the pharmaceutical companies to take good money from good people and turn it around to use for the United Nations UNICEF population control schemes.
John Cardinal Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, and the other Kenyan bishops want to know why the recent ongoing tetanus vaccination campaign by the Kenyan government is only targeting women of the childbearing ages of 14 to 49 years old. They are asking why this supposedly urgent campaign excludes little girls under 14, and boys and men altogether.
In a press release from the Kenyan bishops, they state: “Information in the public domain indicates that Tetanus Toxoid vaccine (TT) laced with Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG) sub unit has been used in [the] Philippines, Nicaragua, and Mexico to vaccinate women against future pregnancy. Beta HCG sub unit is a hormone necessary for pregnancy.”
They added that when injected as a vaccine to a non-pregnant woman, this Beta HCG sub unit combined with tetanus toxoid develops antibodies against tetanus and HCG so that if a woman’s egg becomes fertilized, her own natural HCG will be destroyed, rendering her permanently infertile. The bishops state that in this situation, tetanus vaccination has been used as a birth control method.
Are organizations which have been recipients of CRS monies involved in this recent assault on Kenyan women of childbearing age?
I want you readers to ask yourselves a few questions.
Will you research the information presented in this article or just dismiss it?
Should you give to the Operation Rice Bowl campaign this Lent, given the information you’ve just read?
Should you say anything to your pastor and your fellow parishioners about these concerns regarding Operation Rice Bowl?
Should you just not give, but keep your mouth shut about Operation Rice Bowl?
Will Jesus ask you on your Judgment Day about your silence in this matter?
My ongoing advice to you is to help the poor in your own family and community with your time, love, and resources, if possible. If you are feeling generous with your financial blessings, please give to your local crisis pregnancy centers, because they could sure use your help.
Whatever you do, answer the questions above, and the answers you come up with should let you know whether you should or shouldn’t contribute to the Operation Rice Bowl campaign this year.
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(Rey Flores is a Catholic public speaker and is available for your next event. Contact Rey Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.)