Catholic relief and contraception

I would like to provide some clarification to what is admittedly a complicated issue ("Charity denies funding contraception," July 25).

Catholic Relief Services provided grants to CARE in the 2010 fiscal year from funding that came from both the U.S. government and a private foundation. The funds were for specific programs in Africa and Central America providing vital food, water and sanitation services. No money CRS collected from our many supporters was transferred to CARE. No money was used to support contraceptives. Our grant to CARE also does not indicate agreement with CARE's positions on family planning.

The controversy is one that is internal to the Catholic Church and involves complex principles of moral theology. We are humanitarian professionals, not moral theologians, which is why we turn to experts to ensure that our programs conform to Church teaching. It is important to us that we represent the Catholic Church in the U.S. by serving those who are the poorest and most vulnerable in about 100 countries, while standing on the teachings of Christ and of the Church.

Rather than deal with controversies like this, we would prefer to focus on providing life-saving assistance to desperately poor families around the world with both compassion and the highest professional standards. The poor deserve no less than our best.

Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services.

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