Catholic Relief Services (CRS) 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 100 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents.
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Our mission is 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.
As the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, CRS is governed by a board of directors comprising clergy, most of them bishops elected by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as religious and Catholic lay men and women.
CRS maintains strict standards of efficiency, accountability and transparency: 94 percent of our expenditures go directly to programs.
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 nearly 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.