Editor’s note: this report originally appeared at the website of the Lepanto Institute. We have agreed to republish it to assist in sharing information about this important story.
The Lepanto Institute was recently asked by a supporter if the Salesian Missions was a “safe charity” to donate to. Not knowing the answer, Lepanto Institute conducted an investigation of the Salesian Missions’ program called “Life Choices,” and discovered that this program is quite similar to just about anything Planned Parenthood would publish. The program recommends masturbation, encourages condom use, employs emotionally dangerous “role-play” exercises, promotes contraception (including abortifacients like the morning after pill), and even provides contact information for teens to acquire condoms and contraception. According to the Salesian Missions’ website, over 375,000 kids have been exposed to this program. Click here for the full report in PDF format.
The Salesian Mission Office, under the guidance of the Eastern USA and Canadian Salesian Province, seeks to provide for the material and spiritual needs of poor and abandoned individuals, especially the young. The Salesian Missions belong to the order started by St. John “Don” Bosco, the Society of St. Francis de Sales, commonly referred to as “Salesians. Given what has been discovered, imagine what St. John Bosco would think with the order he founded contributing, not to the sanctification of youth, as was his own mandate, but to their corruption with these immoral programs.
In 2007, PEPFAR reported granting the Salesian Missions $56,599 for HIV prevention programs. Page 259 of this report shows that the Salesian Missions were responsible for providing information on condom use.
The Salesian Mission website verifies the implementation of the “Life Choices” program, focusing on reducing teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and violence.
The Life Choices website for the Salesian Life Choices program in South Africa indicates that the Salesian Life Choices organization is operating “under the Salesian priests and brothers.” In fact, one of the board members is a Salesian priest who is also the “Property Administrator of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa.”
The following information will come directly from the Salesian Life Choices, “Youth Friendly HIV Counseling & Testing” manual. In this 65 page manual, the word “condom” is mentioned 71 times, and always in promotion of condom use.
Page 9 of the Youth Friendly HIV Counseling and Testing manual makes the intention of the manual clear with regard to the promotion of condoms, saying that “it is crucial that counselors change the stigma around condom use.” Page 36 calls on teens to “condomise,” which means to use a condom every time they have sex, including “anal, oral, vaginal, male-to-male, and female-to-female.” Note the word “choice” on the pictures of condoms. On the same page, a note says they encourage youth to use condoms, “not based on moral reasoning,” but “purely good sense.” It also encourages dental dams for oral sex and finger condoms for mutual masturbation.
Page 37 explains that the Life Choices program includes condom demonstrations. The note goes so far as to instruct counsellors to inform teens where they can obtain condoms. There are many other references to condom use in this manual, but these examples suffice to show an immoral encouragement coming from a an organization attached to a religious order.
Now, we’ll switch to the Salesian Life Choices, “Dream 2 Be” manual for 9th grade peer-educators. In this manual, not only are condoms advocated for, but so also are abortifacient birth control pills, injectables, and the morning after pill. On page 16 is an extremely dangerous role-playing exercise where a 9th grade boy is paired with a 9th grade girl, and the two are supposed to have a discussion on whether or not to have sex, specifically stating that they should NOT discuss the morality of having sex outside of marriage. The danger in an exercise like this is that strong adolescent emotions will be evoked by this kind of role-play, potentially engaging immoral thoughts and out-of-class curiosity.But that’s not the worst of it.
On page 17, boys are encouraged to masturbate in order to satisfy sexual urges, and then to use condoms if they choose to have sex.
On page 18, in a discussion about HIV/AIDS, is a near pornographic image and young teens are told to “use condoms at all times.” There are many other serious problems with this manual, but these examples suffice to show the gravely immoral nature of this program.
Forgoing Catholic moral teaching altogether, rather than telling these kids that sexual intercourse is an act designed by God to be reserved for marriage, page 19 tells young adolescents that they should wait to have sex until “they are ready.” It also encourages them to use contraception, including abortifacients like the birth control pill and injectable contraception along with a condom. It also tells them where they can get condoms and contraception, and even suggests obtaining abortifacient “emergency contraception” if they ever have “unprotected” sex. On the next page are phone numbers indicating where to obtain contraceptives, including emergency contraception.
In addition to promoting contraception and abortifacients in their program manuals, The Salesian Life Choices program publishes a youth newsletter, distributing about 15,000 copies to targeted schools. Several of these newsletters include STRONG support for contraception, including abortifacients.
Salesian Life Choices’ youth newsletter #1 includes a flow-chart illustrating that using a condom can help to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS.
Youth newsletter #3 warns that “unprotected sex” or sex without a condom, increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Youth newsletter #4 has an entire article devoted to encouraging the use of all forms of contraception, including abortifacients.
The website of the Salesian Missions indicates that, with funding from USAID, it hasexposed 375,000 to the Life Choices program.
The project of the Salesian Missions called “Life Choices” is clearly not in line with Catholic moral teaching, however this report illustrates an even greater issue that merits further attention. It should be noted that the Salesian Life Choices program was only made possible through the donations from and partnerships with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Global Fund.
This isn’t the first time Catholic moral teaching has been compromised by Catholic aid agencies after receiving funds from organizations that promote contraception and abortion. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been caught time and again implementing programs against Catholic moral teaching through the funding of such organizations. After receiving funds from PEPFAR, CRS implemented a condom-promoting video series and acontraception-promoting curriculum in Kenya. In Rwanda, CRS tested a Planned Parenthood-style sex education program with funding from USAID. The problem is obvious: Funding from agencies intent on spreading immoral behaviors always come with a cost.
At this time, it is clearly not safe to contribute funds to the Salesian Missions until they divorce themselves from funding provided by government and immoral organizations. This report serves as further evidence that the mandate of Pope Benedict XVI in his 2012 motu proprio, On the Service of Charity, MUST be obeyed. Pope Benedict said that the “Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching.” Let us pray that Catholic aid agencies follow this mandate, providing for authentic charitable works that pew-sitting Catholics can be proud to fund.
This report has been sent to both the Salesian Order and the Salesian Missions six days prior to publication and no response was received.
UPDATE: The Salesian Missions have responded with a categorical denial, even in the face of irrefutable evidence. You can read the response of the Lepanto Institute here.
Michael Hichborn is the president of the Lepanto Institute. Formerly, Michael spent nearly eight years as American Life League’s Director of the Defend the Faith project. He has researched and produced countless articles and reports on the funding of abortion, birth control, homosexuality and Marxism by Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).
Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Christendom College in Political Science and Economics and a Master’s degree in Education from American Intercontinental University.
Michael lives in Virginia with his wife, Alyssa, and their seven children.