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Friday, April 04, 2008



While I certainly appreciate Mr. Wiest's attention, I just hope that Dr. Grisez's criticism isn't dismissed on petty semantic distinctions between promoting condoms and teaching how to use them.

May St. Maria Goretti pray for our bishops.


Well... Wait and see...

Michael Wiest

Augustine, thank you for raising this issue. This gives me an opportunity to explain some crucial information about the educational materials referred to by Dr. Grisez that he did not know about.

Any reference to teaching people how to use condoms is related to a pedagogical tool Dr. Grisez refers to as the “flip chart.” This pedagogical tool, which is used in clinical settings to counsel individuals and couples about HIV prevention, treatment and care, is a publication of the Government of Zambia’s Ministry of Health. It is not a CRS publication. This is why the CRS logo does not appear on it. The Government of Zambia has mandated that there only be one set of health educational material used throughout the country in governmental and non-governmental health facilities — including those run by the Catholic Church. We were not free to develop and use our own set of educational materials.

In fact, CRS was able to convince the Government of Zambia to include discussions on abstinence, behavior change and fidelity in marriage within the material; all information that was absent in previous drafts. The Government of Zambia’s initial approach was to use World Health Organization materials that referred to condoms as the only means to prevent HIV transmission. Thus, though CRS’ name is not on the charts, the Church’s policies and ideas are literally within the charts by virtue of CRS’ efforts.

In addition, the flip chart was constructed in a "binder" format, allowing users (such as Catholic health facilities) to take out information they don't agree with, such as the section on condoms.

Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to bring some clarity to this issue.

Michael R. Wiest
Executive Vice President
Catholic Relief Services


Mr. Weist, thank you for your reassuring candor.

God bless.

Germain Grisez

In his reply to Augustine, posted on Friday, April 04, 2008 at 02:12 PM, Michael R. Wiest, Executive Vice President of CRS, claims that important parts of my argument that the US bishops need to investigate CRS were based on my ignorance of the facts about a “pedagogical tool” called the flip chart.

Readers willing to consider whether Mr. Wiest’s story about the flipchart and his accusation against me are true can look at the evidence and judge for themselves by going to clicking on “Click here to view the CRS documents” and then clicking on “Cover letter from CRS’ AIDSRelief Chief of Party Jared M. Hoffman” and reading that letter, which makes clear the true relationship between CRS and the flipchart.

Germain Grisez

Augustine II

Disturbing. Obviously an attempt to go along with the distribution and promotion of condoms without seeming to.

"It is never right to do wrong."



I believe that Mr. Wiest is being quite forthcoming explaining CRS' actions and policies and Mr. Grisez brings to light the context in which the objectionable material was created. However, it's important to keep in mind that CRS employees may err and this would not represent CRS policies, just its actions. And if its actions through its employees are against its policies, the Church's policies, then it should take corrective action.

In my humble opinion, if any document put forth by a Catholic agency needs explanation about its conformance to the Magisterium, it's causing scandal and, as oftentimes the explanation doesn't accompany the document, it remains causing scandal for a long time. Therefore, if the humble opinion of a layman matters, these documents need to be reviewed and CRS should put in place safeguards against this ever happening again.

I consider this a very serious matter and, if it's indeed scandalous, so does Our Lord.

Joe C.

Mr. Weist,

I'm a donor to CRS, and I think you are doing a good job in a very difficult situation in Africa.

Please keep working to allow the teachings on sexuality and marriage of the Catholic Church to be heard.

J Madigan

Mr. Wiest writes convincingly, and well - as one would expect from an experienced professional with both a BA and an MA in English.

His full title is Executive Vice President, Charitable Giving. As such, according to his online biography, he leads CRS' fundraising, as well as marketing & communications efforts.

CRS' response to this article might be even more convincing were the President or the Executive Vice President, Oversees Operations, to issue a statement explaining in greater detail the manner and extent to which CRS engages in providing condom information (education?) across the globe.

Further, while CRS materials referenced do recognize and expressly embrace Catholic teaching, they do not effectively convey the wisdom and truthfulness of this teaching; they do not place it within the context of Christ-like living.

arkanabar t'verrick ilarsadin

Mr. Madigan,
remember, please, that Zambian law REQUIRES CRS to use Zambian government materials. The materials under review are not CRS materials; they are materials that CRS has been saddled with by an interfering government as a condition of their being allowed to help Zambian HIV and AIDS victims at all.

Mark Brumley

I think those making comments here in support of CRS and claims that requirements of the Zambian government are entirely responsible for the situation with respect to the distribution of certain materials would be well served by going back to the Grisez article to see what CRS itself has represented in the matter and how it has explained the policy to be pursued. How do these representations fit with what CRS is claiming now?

Mark Brumley

The cover letter re: the flip chart implies other reasons than the one stated above for withholding CRS' name.

Also, see this document:

And this one:


My dear Wormwood,

How you have improved over the years.
At one time I was your teacher but now you are the Master.

Remember to always emphasis that all the deaths in Africa due to
malaria and tuberculosis are actullay due to HIV/AIDS. This will
have many important consequences

1) We will always be able to blame the Catholic Church for these deaths
while at the same time enjoying the friuts of the many lies being told,
confusing good hearted Catholics and intimidating weak bishops.

2) We will encourage the First World nations to concentrate all their energy
on HIV while millions continue to die. In particular,
we may be able to keep the death rate high since it would be so
very easy to eliminate the deaths due to malaria if the medical
community became serious about it. I am particulary impressed when
we are able to effect the deaths of millions of young people.

3) The governments will continue to play along claiming the deaths
are all due to AIDS since they know that this is a sure way to get
much international funding (which can be used for anything).

4) Even if the politicians/medical community
discover the truth, people will
continue to die because as you well know
malaria and tuberculosis are not fashionable diseases.

Look back on all the work we have done these past 20 some years
and rejoice on the many lives you have ruined by
speading lies and be content.

Your Uncle Screwtape.

Catherine Harmon

Mr. Wiest,

If it is in fact the case that the CRS logo was not used on the flipchart because it is a publication of the Zambian government, why was this reason not given in the cover letter from AIDSRelief Chief of Party Jared Hoffman (available here:

Why, instead, did he explain that "CRS has chosen not to include the CRS or AIDSRelief logo on the flipchart, due to the potential sensitivity of the information contained in these materials among Church partners"? This seems to indicate pretty clearly that CRS chose not to associate its name or logo with the controversial materials it prints and distributes specifically because of their controversial nature, not because the flipchart isn't "a CRS publication." In fact, Hoffman's letter states that CRS has ownership rights to the document and that changes to it (excluding the inclusion of the CRS name or logo) can be made by local CRS partners and must be vetted by CRS headquarters.

Thank you for your willingness to clarify CRS' position on these very important issues.

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