Catholic Faith and Morals: Why I Said “No” to World Vision

Posted at Catholic Insight

Vatican CityI was excited when I read the email. World Vision Canada wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing a new book of family mealtime prayers.

The boost to my ego was super-charged.

“Wow! They want me?” And I would get a free book, too. What a deal!

World Vision Canada engages in many worthwhile projects and makes a significant difference in the lives of the children, families and communities they help. I happily read through their website, marveling at all their wonderful work and looking forward to being part of it.

But then, that still, small voice that gently stirs up the conscience caught my attention.

“Ask them about their policies on abortion and birth control,” the voice seemed to whisper.

I sent them an email with my concerns. To their credit, their reply was courteous, prompt and transparent.

On the topic of abortion, this is what they said: “As a Christian organization, World Vision Canada believes life begins at conception and that abortion, the termination of a child’s life in the womb, is a denial of a child’s fundamental right to life. We oppose abortion.”

But when I asked about their past affiliation with the pro-abortion group, Action Canada for Population Development (ACPD), they admitted that they were part of a coalition formed in advance of the G20 Summit held in  Toronto in 2010. The purpose of the coalition was to put forward ” a combined voice and vision for maternal and child health.” Besides ACPD and World Vision Canada, the coalition also included Unicef, Save the Children, Plan Canada, Care Canada and RESULTS. Before the summit, ACPD removed itself from the group but I noted the fact that World Vision was willing to work with them.

As part of their work, World Vision “distribute[s] only those birth control methods that do not cause abortion. World  Vision provides the most recent, scientifically accurate information about contraception to women and couples, so they can make their own informed decisions about timing and spacing pregnancies. World Vision recognizes that contraceptive methods such as condoms can help families choose the number and timing of their children as well as reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

There it was. If I wrote the book review that would support the organization, I would be complicit in their contraceptive policies. Regardless of all their other wonderful work, the fact remained that part of their mandate contradicts Catholic moral teaching. Sadly, I turned down the book review.

In a 2009 book-length interview, Light of the World, Pope Benedict XVI, in a widely quoted and wildly misunderstood statement said that the distribution of condoms “is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in the humanization of sexuality.” In his comments, the Pope re-iterated Catholic moral teaching on sexuality and artificial contraception, the teaching that dignifies sexuality and sexual love as sacred and open to new life.

When we strive to be authentically Catholic, we stand in opposition to so many things that the world accepts. Some of those things have many honourable aspects that are good for society but when we dig deeper, we see that they don’t fully embrace the full loving message of the Gospels. In that case, we can’t compromise morality or settle for anything less than Truth.

Most of us will never be asked to review a book; all of us face moral choices every day. Ordinary events in our lives call for us to make decisions based on sound Catholic moral teaching. Career opportunities, job descriptions, school assignments, courses of study, social relationships, friendships, even the purchases we make ought to have a foundation in what we believe.

Going against the tide of worldly opinion may bring condemnation, fewer opportunities, loss of friends or loss of livelihood. It can be frightening to make the right choice because our decision may affect the people we love the most. It takes an abundance of grace freely given by God and openly received by a prayerful heart to make the unpopular resolutions that put God and the Catholic faith first. But ultimately, it’s the right thing to do.

When that still, small voice stirs up your conscience, listen to it. Ask questions and do the research before making a commitment. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is non-negotiable. It isn’t up for compromise, debate or personal interpretation. We need to base our decisions, however difficult, in light of Catholic moral teaching.

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26 Responses to Catholic Faith and Morals: Why I Said “No” to World Vision

  1. Nancy says:

    “We need to base our decisions, however difficult, in light of Catholic moral teaching.” What a perfect – what a necessary, bottom line.

  2. SaintlySages says:

    Worldly opinion is seldom worthwhile. Christ warned that the road to life is narrow and few find it (Mt 7:14). God bless!

  3. Me says:

    Thank you for doing your research! It is important to investigate organizations to be sure about them. I once wrote praises for CRS in a college paper. This week, I learned that CRS gives funds to three organizations that provide contraceptives and abortificants. A “Catholic” organization doing that?! I immediately “unliked” them but will be curious to see if they halt supporting those other anti-life organizations.

  4. oarubio says:

    Go(o)d job! I’m always encouraged when I hear about others realizing that we need to investigate everything, even those things that appear totally wonderful. We must pass on the understanding that whenever we’re willing to overlook “small” conflicts with our conscience, we’re actually duplicating the appeasement mentality which had led to so many evils in our modern history. — Tony

  5. Amazing! Good for you :)

  6. Thank you for sharing this! My husband and I do not shop or donate to countless groups that support abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, population control, etc. To be honest the list is exhaustive and impossible to boycott fully because there are so many companies and charities involved in these programs. These days, it is hard to find a company that does not donate money or support programs that are gravely immoral. So sad! Good for you!

    • I agree. It’s sometimes difficult to sort out which groups are working together. I know that at times we can’t avoid certain organizations since many are intertwined but we have to keep trying. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Michael says:

    God bless you! Your strength and courage, strengthens and encourages others.

  8. Great post.Reflects your bravery.Blessings and best regards.jalal(our catholic faith is a diamond)

  9. God bless you Terry! I was thinking about you yesterday, and I am glad to have caught this post. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of others. Maybe it will help World Vision take a few moments to think.

    It can be tough to do the right thing, but it is always good to do. When I first moved to New York City, I was desperately searching for a job (which can be very hard to find there). I sent in an application to a company that I did not recognize at first, as they were under a different name.

    They were very interested in me, and I was excited at first, until I learned who they were – “Hustler” magazine! I even had someone close to me encourage me to go forward – as I did need a job – but I would rather have ended up scrubbing floors than working there.

    Sometimes you may have to compromise a lot, but it is better to do so in the end. Good for you! :-)

  10. Imelda says:

    You are right. To remain faithful means examining all our choices and discerning whether they are conforming to the will of God.

    These days, being a Catholic seems to be going against all the trends in the world which is difficult to do oftentimes. We become sort of outcasts here. Maybe that is why priests often said that being faithful during these times is a kind of martyrdom and penance.

  11. lilyboat says:

    What you did was very honorable. I hope this post sets a great example to others in their times of temptation and trials. It also gave me a lot to think about World Vision.

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