Committee To Examine Allegations Against Catholic Relief Services
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Allegations against the charitable agency, Catholic Relief Services, will be examined by a special committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, church officials said Tuesday.
The conference’s president, Bishop James Malone of Youngstown, Ohio, had expressed full confidence in the agency’s officers last month in the face of complaints about the way it was spending money donated to feed starving Ethiopians.
Malone said in a statement Tuesday, ″Although I have asked the committee to study recent public charges made against Catholic Relief Services, I emphasize that the intention is simply to clear the air so that CRS can get on with its important work.
″The establishment of this fact-finding committee implies no prejudgment of any kind concerning CRS operations.″
He said Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia will head a committee examining the relief service, with a report to be submitted to the bishops for their annual meeting in Washington next November, and later released to the public.
Krol and his committee had been asked ″to retain the services of specialists in accounting and relief and development activities and to take all other necessary steps to conduct a full and professional study,″ the statement said.
Last month, Catholic Relief Services’ executive director, Lawrence Pezzullo, denounced a published report that the agency had spent only $9 million out of $50 million it collected from the public since last October.
″The pace of spending is not the issue; it’s the process and the needs,″ he said at that time.
Pezzullo said the agency had not changed plans to put $30 million into short-term feeding, health, agriculture and rehabilitation programs and then spend another $20 million over the next two decades to fight chronic food shortages in Africa.
He also denied an allegation that food deliveries had been delayed while the agency argued with the federal Agency for International Development about transportation costs from Ethiopian ports to inland feeding sites.
Catholic Relief Services is the largest charity distributing U.S. government food in Ethiopia.
Besides Krol, the investigative committee will include Bishops John Keating of Arlington, Va., and William Keeler of Harrisburg, Pa.