Action item at the end!
The Netherlands-based Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (Cordaid), which co-founded and is currently a member of the Vatican-run Caritas Internationalis, partnered with Planned Parenthood for the creation of a contraception-pushing sex education program called Jeune S3. In fact, this program is working directly to undermine Catholic moral authority and teaching among vulnerable populations.
Originally formed in 1914 as Mensen in Nood (People in Need), Cordaid was among the first Catholic international aid and development agencies to come into existence. In 1951, Cordaid joined the Caritas organizations of Germany, USA, Canada, Switzerland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Denmark, and Portugal to found the international Catholic aid and development network called Caritas Internationalis. Caritas Internationalis is an official agency of the Vatican, and its current president is Cardinal Louis Tagle. Cordaid is currently listed as a member of Caritas Internationalis, and another Catholic aid and development network called CIDSE.
In addition to this, a copy of CORDAID’s Governance Regulations (approved by CORDAID’s supervisory board on 15 December 2020) indicates that there is a degree of episcopal oversight of CORDAID by the Bishops’ conference. Page 3 of that document says:
With reference to the history as set out above, Cordaid and ICCO wish to secure the engagement of both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant support bases and institutions. Cordaid and ICCO will do this by means of:
- The appointment of two members of the Supervisory Board, and through the personal union as described below also of the Supervisory Board of Stichting ICCO:
- one member on the recommendation of the Bishops’ Conference of the Roman Catholic Church Province in the Netherlands and
- one member on the recommendation of the executive committee (‘het moderamen’) of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which recommendation will be made on the recommendation of the board of the service organisation (‘de Dienstenorganisatie’) of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
- The appointment of two members of the Supervisory Board, and through the personal union as described below also of the Supervisory Board of Stichting ICCO:
For the Bishops’ Conference, this right of recommendation has already been laid down in the Articles of Association. The right of recommendation of the executive committee (‘het moderamen’) of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands is herewith laid down in this Governance Regulations;
It is unclear whether or not any annual Catholic collections are taken up for CORDAID, but considering the following information, Cordaid should be stripped of its Catholic identity, forcibly removed from Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE, and all Catholic collections must be put to an immediate end.
A few years ago, Lepanto Institute investigated and exposed CORDAID’s financial support for Planned Parenthood for the purpose of procuring and distributing contraception. As we continue to monitor and revise our past reports, it was important to us to take another look at CORDAID to determine whether or not it was still involved in morally repugnant activities. What we discovered, sadly, revealed that the situation was even worse than before.
In April of 2020, CORDAID published a webpage dedicated to its project called “Jeune S3: A Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Program By, With, and for Youth.” This page indicates the intention to reach more than 1 million young people (as young as 10 years) in Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo so that their “sexual and reproductive rights are respected”:
“The Jeune S3 program (2016-2020) aims to ensure that young people (including the most marginalized and vulnerable populations – especially girls between the ages of 10 and 14) are able, motivated and have the opportunity to make informed choices about their SRHR and that their sexual and reproductive rights are respected.”
Under the heading, “Who Are We?” CORDAID indicates that one of its partners is IPPF ARO, which is the International Planned Parenthood Federation for the African Region.
On that same page is a video, produced by CORDAID, promoting the Jeune S3 program. At the 2-minute mark the video introduces Nathalie as a student who can “list five contraceptives and how to use them.” A few seconds later, she is identified as one who “knows the truth” and also her “rights.” At 2 minutes and 58 seconds, the video indicates that (because of the Jeune S3 program) “300,162 young people now have better access to sexual and reproductive products and services,” which would include contraception.
The page also links to a number of brochures promoting the Jeune S3 program. On page 4 of the brochure for Cameroon, CORDAID explains how youth ambassadors in the Jeune S3 program set up “headquarters” in their localities for discussion on matters of sexual and reproductive health. At these “HQs”, those enrolled in the program can receive free consultations for contraceptive methods:
“The “HQs” made it possible to better direct young people towards SDSR services, who were able to benefit from free consultations in health facilities, including for contraceptive methods.”
On page 6 of the brochure for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CORDAID wrote:
“In order to overcome the problem of stock shortages and to make the contraceptive supply system sustainable, the Jeune S3 program coordinated the Permanent Multisectoral Technical Committee on family planning in the two provinces.” [emphasis added]
A quote from a youth ambassador for the Jeune S3 program on the top of the page is even more explicit:
“The contraceptive methods offered to us by service providers allow us to avoid early and unwanted pregnancies, which were previously a barrier that prevented young people from achieving their life’s dreams.”
The Jeune S3 Advocacy Guide, which was published by CORDAID, explicitly states that religious communities pose a barrier to the program’s intent to increase the use of contraception. Page 9 states:
“And some activities of Jeune S3, particularly those related to youth sexuality and the use of contraception, have met with resistance from religious communities.”
On page 14 of the Advocacy Guide, under the heading,” Free access to contraceptive methods and consultations relating to Sexually Transmitted Infections,” the guide reiterates the concern about opposition to contraception by religious communities and adds that the cost of contraception and the lack of access to it are contributing to the rise of “unwanted pregnancies”:
“According to a survey conducted by the young ambassadors of the Jeune S3 program in 2018, three major problems contribute to the proliferation of unwanted pregnancies: the limited access of young people to information and services related to contraception and care for Sexual Infections Transmissible, the opposition of religious leaders and parents and finally, the high cost of services (consultation fees, cost of contraceptive products, cost of reagents).”
On page 15, under “Approaches and Methods,” CORDAID indicates its close work with Planned Parenthood before discussing its plan for the facilitation of free access to contraception for young people:
“Personal meeting with the medical coordinator of the health zone to present the extent of early pregnancies in Banikoara, their impact on the rights of young people, their weight on the health system and the consequences on economic and social development. At the same time, the ambassadors presented the opportunity that would represent the facilitation of free access for young people to contraceptive services for the acceleration of the achievement of performance in family planning.”
A red box in the upper right of the same page then indicates that the results of the Jeune S3 methodology resulted in the following:
“The coordinating doctor decreed free consultation of STIs and contraceptive methods throughout the municipality.”
On page 20, under the heading “context,” the guide complains about “low” contraceptive use rates (38.9%), again citing the issue of religious leaders opposing the use of contraception. In order to turn this issue around, CORDAID, through Jeune S3, developed a concept called “Tradition Religion Sante’” (TRS). The idea behind this new approach was to convince religious leaders to drop their traditional opposition to contraception and then become advocates for the use and access to contraception. CORDAID then identified the results of this initiative:
- Religious and traditional leaders speak out in public to speak fluently about contraception.
- A total of 305 religious leaders and 395 traditional leaders were touched by this concept. 19 religious leaders were actively involved in advocacy actions and publicly took a position on certain subjects, in particular the education of girls and contraception in general.
Despite this, CORDAID identifies that some religious leaders remain steadfast in their opposition to contraception. Under the heading “Challenges,” CORDAID wrote:
“Some religious leaders are hermetically closed to certain subjects such as contraception or early marriage. According to them, these are divine prescriptions and must be respected without qualms.”
Finally, on the CORDAID webpage regarding the Jeune S3 program is a link to its Advocacy Kit. In the Advocacy Kit, CORDAID defines what it means by “Reproductive Rights” on the seventh page of the pdf document with notions that completely contradict Catholic moral teaching on human sexuality:
“Reproductive Rights: The fundamental right of all people to decide freely if they will have children, when they will have children and how many children they will have, as well as the right to have access to information that helps them to make these decisions and to have access to sexual and reproductive health care. For example, access to family planning clinics and contraception is an important reproductive right. Reproductive rights also include the right to make reproductive decisions free from discrimination, coercion and violence.”
CORDAID’s brochure for the Jeune S3 program, dated December 2020, is even more detailed. Titled, “A program for, with and by young people,” the brochure is filled with references to its intention to promote contraception as a “right” among the youth. On page 14, CORDAID explains how its program uses radio stations to propagandize the youth with contraceptive messaging:
“Jeune S3 participants effectively utilized social media and produced 710 radio broadcasts to reach as many young people and community members as possible. Radio discussions covered a range of relevant topics for young people such as SRHR, sexuality, contraceptives, sexual and gender-based violence, and alcohol use.”
On page 17 is a splash page with the large words, “Not backing down: free sexual and reproductive health services for young people.” Underneath, one of the Jeune S3 ambassadors explains how the program was able to obtain access to free contraception for young people:
“Seko Boro, Jeune S3 ambassador, described the ambassadors’ interaction with the chief district medical officer of Banikoara: “We presented him with the challenges we face regarding sexual and reproductive health and lobbied for free screening for sexually transmitted infections and for free contraception in health centers.” The ambassadors’ unwavering commitment paid off. In 2019, they obtained free sexual health services and free access to contraception for young people, as well as an administrative budget line dedicated to adolescent reproductive health.”
On page 18, CORDAID explains how the Jeune S3 program was able to help reduce stock-outs of modern contraceptives, including condoms and abortifacient contraceptive pills, implants and injections:
“Imagine a courageous young person decides to exercise their right to use a contraceptive of his or her choice… only to arrive at the health facility and find there are no contraceptives available. Experiences like these discourage young people from seeking out SRH services and contribute to ongoing poor health outcomes such as unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Recognizing the need to prevent contraceptive stockouts in health facilities, Jeune S3 filled this gap in SRH services in Democratic Republic of Congo. To encourage sustainable follow up, Jeune S3 organised the Multisectorial Coordinating Committee on Family Planning in two provinces in the country.
This standing committee, which includes young people, ensures that health facilities maintain a three month supply of contraceptive products at all times. In addition, Jeune S3 and an implementing partner successfully reduced stockouts in health centers. From 2016 to 2019, the annual average number of days of stockouts for all methods of modern contraception across Jeune S3 partnering health facilities dropped notably. In 2016 health facilities in North Kivu province reported up to 30 days of stockouts on average by method. By 2019, the highest annual average number of days of stockouts by method was five (for female condoms). A number of other contraceptives (implants, injection and pills) reported zero average days of stockouts in 2019. In South Kivu, province the highest average number of days of stockouts in 2016 was 10 for female condoms. In 2019, no stockouts were reported for five out of eight methods.”
On page 22, CORDAID brags that its Jeune S3 program introduced hundreds of thousands of young people to contraception:
“By focusing on both provider training and contraceptive commodity supply and young people’s SRHR knowledge and empowerment, Jeune S3 activities facilitated access to essential SRH services for young people. Over the course of the programme, a total of 160,511 young people received family planning consultations across the four Jeune S3 countries and 194,498 young people were tested for HIV.”
On page 26, under the heading “Challenge faced and to come,” CORDAID discussed the issue of restrictive laws regarding access to contraception:
“Laws that limit access to certain health services can prevent the full realization of young people’s SRH and access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services for minors of age, to acquire freely contraceptives of choice from non-judgmental health providers. The interpretation of law sometimes hindered access to contraceptives for youths or women without consent of a male guardian.”
On the same page, CORDAID again mentions the problem of religious communities standing in opposition to Jeune S3’s contraception promotion:
“some Jeune S3 activities, especially those related to young people’s sexuality and use of contraception, met with resistance by religious communities.”
Beginning on page 28, CORDAID identifies the materials it has produced for the Jeune S3 program. Number 6 on the list is a card game called “Card game: True or false”. The description for the card game indicates that it discusses contraception, abortion, and “rights.” Given that these products were created in conjunction with Planned Parenthood, we are not confident that the information on “abortion” is in line with Catholic moral teaching. The description shows that the game is for young people between the ages of 15-24, and says:
“This fun 80-card game aims to tackle taboos and misinformation by providing objective information to help young people make decisions during their adolescence. The attractive cards are divided into eight broad categories of questions (Knowing your body; Life cycle; Love and sexuality; Contraception; STIs and HIV and AIDS; Pregnancy; Abortion; Rights), which must be answered with “True” or “False.””
On that page are a couple of sample images of card used in the game. One states:
“Every time you have sexual intercourse you need protection, not just from pregnancy but also from Sexually Transmitted Infections. Condoms are the only effective method that does both.”
The other card, which is on the abortifacient “emergency contraception,” says:
“The “morning after” pill is not 100% effective. You need to have a pregnancy test to check it has worked, especially if your period is more than five days later than expected.”
Jeune S3’s seventh listed resource is titled, “The basics of contraceptive methods: a short practical guide,” and is also intended for young people aged 15-24. The description for this resource says:
“This easy and fun two-page flyer aims to teach more about the different contraceptive methods and their use. A section can be personalized to redirect the young person to the nearest health center or health professional.”
When we highlighted the text in order to copy it straight to this document, we discovered that there was hidden text still in the document that was no longer visible. This is what we saw:
This could have been residuals left behind from the editing process, but whatever the case may be, we found a more complete description of this resource in French. Translated into English, this is what the text says:
“THE ESSENTIALS ON CONTRACEPTIVE METHODS A short practical guide.
To find out more, go to the appropriate structures such as health centres, clinics, hospitals or one of the youth centres.
Health centre: Telephone: Hospital / clinic: Telephone: Youth centre: Telephone: Other:
In partnership with Technical partners TRUE or FALSE? If your usual method of contraception is a pill, an injection or even an implant, you are protected against unwanted pregnancies. But you are not against STIs including HIV/AIDS. Only the condom can protect you against STIs and must be used in addition to your usual method of contraception. Each of us is different and the first sexual relationship can occur at a young age. The first sexual experience should be safe, desired and considered. Contraception can provide this security to avoid unwanted pregnancies, Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. It is therefore important to use contraception as soon as you are sexually active. Contraception is not just for girls. Boys are also involved Contraceptives are only for adults. If I use the pill, an injection, or an implant, I am protected against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Girls and boys are both responsible . They must ensure that their sexual experiences are safe, wanted and respectful. Avoiding unwanted pregnancies, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS are a common concern between girls and boys. Young men can use a condom. To support their partner, they can, for example, participate in the financing of the contraceptive method, take the initiative to talk about it openly (finding out, how to obtain it, how to pay for it, etc.). My priority. My choice. My future. Health, Sexuality, Safety Health, Sexuality, Safety March 2018, © Jeune S3”
Resource 8 reflects the challenges identified earlier in this document and several others we’ve already pointed out; the challenge posed by religious leaders standing in opposition to the promotion of contraception. The title of the resource is “Sexual and Reproductive Health for young people: facilitation guide for working with religious leaders,” and its description is as follows:
“This facilitation handbook (+ annex manual) for religious leaders on the Sexual and Reproductive Health of young people is a flexible training curriculum that has been designed to be used on an interfaith and intercultural basis. It aims to educate and empower religious leaders with the necessary information and skills to better understand and support young people in making critical decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Note that this facilitation guide does not intend to change the fundamental religious positions of religious leaders – instead it informs them about the SRH of young people. The intention is for religious leaders to reflect on and understand how they can practice their leadership and be good role models for vulnerable young people.”
In addition to these resources, we discovered this evaluation of the Jeune S3 project, and in it is a very comprehensive look at the pervasiveness of all manner of contraception that is promoted and distributed as a part of the program. Page 20 of the evaluation report indicates that CORDAID is the leader of the Jeune S3 Alliance, identifying its responsibilities.
Beginning on page 45 of the evaluation are a series of charts indicating Jeune S3’s participation in the distribution of all manner of contraception (condoms, female condoms, implants, pills, emergency contraception, IUDs, and injections.) The following chart is enough for illustrative purposes to prove the point:
In addition to finding documents that indicate an intention to promote contraception, and a report showing that the program has resulted in an increase in the use of all manner of contraception, we have also discovered many different public indicators of the Jeune S3 program promoting contraception in practice. What follows are a series of social media posts and photos that show the program as it was being enacted.
This is a photo of a promotion of the Jeune S3 program with a man holding a Cordaid sign written in French. Translated, the sign reads:
“Choosing your contraception means taking charge and controlling your future!”
In this February/March 2019 Jeune S3 newsletter, there is a statement from a Jeune S3 student that “I am not ready to have a pregnancy now. We need information on contraception,” and a link to a “Smartsheet” attempting to dispel fears over side-effects of various forms of contraception.
This March 15, 2019 tweet from the official Jeune S3 twitter account shows a Jeune S3 worker explaining and distributing contraception to young boys.
This June 2019 tweet from Jeune S3 in Cameroon tries to excuse the promotion of contraception as a “weapon against clandestine abortions.”
This tweet from Jeune S3 also from June 2019 claims that “religion is not against contraception.”
This September 2019 tweet from the Jeune S3 ambassadors twitter account links Cordaid directly to the distribution of contraception.
This November 2018 tweet by Elise Landowski (Cordaid’s Health Advocacy Director) shows a bunch of young people in the Jeune S3 program holding up signs promoting calls for access to and use of contraception.
This tweet from October of 2019 shows a young man in the Central Africa Republic explaining various forms of abortifacient contraception in a Jeune S3 presentation.
This tweet from November of 2018 shows young people representing the Jeune S3 program in Cameroon asking health providers to give them contraception.
There are many, many more examples, but this sample provides ample evidence that Cordaid is actively pushing contraception through the Jeune S3 program. It helped create and implement a program designed specifically to promote an idea of “sexual rights” to children that is absolutely antithetical to Catholic moral teaching; it is directly and forcefully promoting all manner of contraception, including abortifacients; and it is doing so while claiming the name “Catholic.”
Because of this, it is well past time that Cordaid be stripped of its Catholic identity and forcibly removed from the rosters of both Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE.
Please contact the Dutch Bishops’ Conference at this email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – sending them the link to our report and asking them, in the name of Canon 216, which states, “no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority,” to strip Cordaid of its Catholic identity and withdraw any and all episcopal support for the organization.
Then, contact Caritas Internationalis at this email address – email@example.com – asking them to completely remove Cordaid from membership in Caritas Internationalis and to actively refuse to conduct any activities with Cordaid from this point forward.
Finally, we would ask you to do the same by contacting CIDSE at this email address – firstname.lastname@example.org