Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, we have expanded in size to reach more than 130 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents.
For over 75 years, our mission has been to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although our mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, our operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. Within the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
CRS is motivated by the example of Jesus Christ to ease suffering, provide development assistance, and foster charity and justice. We are committed to a set of Guiding Principles and hold ourselves accountable to each other for them.
CRS’ commitment to Catholic teaching
Catholic Relief Services is a manifestation of love for our brothers and sisters around the globe by the Catholic community of the United States. We protect, defend and advance human life around the world by directly meeting basic needs and advocating solutions to injustice. CRS is a pro-life organization dedicated to preserving the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Every aspect of our work is to help life flourish. We are resolute in our commitment to the Church and its teaching.
As a part of the Universal Church, we work with local Catholic institutions around the world. As a Catholic agency that provides assistance to people in need in over 100 countries without regard to race, religion or nationality, we also participate in humanitarian initiatives undertaken by a range of groups, including governments, other faith communities and secular institutions. Although some positions and practices of these institutions are not always consistent with the full range of Catholic teaching, CRS’ work with these institutions always focuses only on activities that are fully consistent with Catholic teachings.
CRS employs Catholics as well as non-Catholics. Membership in professional associations enables our staff to obtain information and technological advances that best prepare us to serve those in our care—and we do so in full accordance with Catholic teachings. Our staff members also belong to coalitions that extend the reach of services to poor people who often live in remote areas where CRS does not operate. These coalitions give CRS a platform to present effective methods and procedures that demonstrate the efficacy of Catholic approaches to health and family planning. These are our opportunities to make space in the public sphere for the Catholic viewpoint and to witness to our faith.
As the official international Catholic relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services draws upon a rich tradition of Scripture and Catholic social teaching, which serve as the foundation for CRS’ Guiding Principles. Acting as a guide to what a just world might look like, these Principles are shared across religious and cultural boundaries and articulate values that are common among people who seek to promote and work towards true justice and lasting peace.
- SACREDNESS AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
Created in the image of God, all human life is sacred and possesses a dignity that comes directly from our creation and not from any action of our own.
- RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Every person has basic rights and responsibilities that flow from our human dignity and that belong to us as human beings regardless of any social or political structures. The rights are numerous and include those things that make life truly human. Corresponding to our rights are duties and responsibilities to respect the rights of others and to work for the common good of all.
- SOCIAL NATURE OF HUMANITY
All of us are social by nature and are called to live in community with others — our full human potential isn’t realized in solitude, but in community with others. How we organize our families, societies and communities directly affects human dignity and our ability to achieve our full human potential.
- THE COMMON GOOD
In order for all of us to have an opportunity to grow and develop fully, a certain social fabric must exist within society. This is the common good. Numerous social conditions — economic, political, material and cultural — impact our ability to realize our human dignity and reach our full potential.
A higher level of government — or organization — should not perform any function or duty that can be handled more effectively at a lower level by people who are closer to the problem and have a better understanding of the issue.
We are all part of one human family — whatever our national, racial, religious, economic or ideological differences — and in an increasingly interconnected world, loving our neighbor has global dimensions.
- OPTION FOR THE POOR
In every economic, political and social decision, a weighted concern must be given to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. When we do this we strengthen the entire community, because the powerlessness of any member wounds the rest of society.
There is inherent integrity to all of creation and it requires careful stewardship of all our resources, ensuring that we use and distribute them justly and equitably — as well as planning for future generations.
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