Catholic Relief Services



Baltimore, MD

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:





Sean Callahan


Catholic Charity

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Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international charity arm of the Catholic Church in the United States. Its domestic counterpart is Catholic Charities USA.

CRS has served more than 130 million people across more than 100 countries. 1 About half of the organization’s funding comes from government sources, particularly the federal government, while the rest is derived from charitable giving. Some critics have claimed that CRS has lost its Catholic identity due to its reliance on government funding.


In 1943, the Catholic bishops of the United States founded War Relief Services to support European refugees fleeing World War II. In 1947, War Relief Services expanded into Asia to provide humanitarian aid during the partition of India, and then followed the U.S. military into Korea and Vietnam. In 1955, the organization was renamed the Catholic Relief Services. In the same year, the CRS became a major supporter of Missionaries of Charity, the organization run by Mother Theresa. By the late 1950s, the CRS provided 62 percent of all food shipped abroad by private contractors of the U.S. government. 2 3 4

In the 1970s, the CRS’s focus transitioned away from political crises to natural disasters, including earthquakes, famines, and diseases throughout the world. In the 1990s, the focus shifted to “justice,” with the organization providing humanitarian aid amid the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, and Rwanda. 5

In 2000, the CRS convened a world summit of key staff which set a new objective of promoting “solidarity” throughout the world. The following year, combatting the HIV and AIDS epidemic became a priority. In the 2000s, the organization provided aid in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the U.S.-led War on Terror. 6


In 2021, Catholic Relief Services generated approximately $1.2 billion in revenue, of which $939 billion, or about 78 percent, came from public as opposed to private support. Roughly $438 million, or over one third of total revenue, came from federal grants. 7


Loss of Catholic Identity

The Catholic Relief Services has faced longstanding criticisms that it has drifted away from its Catholic identity as it has expanded its operations. Stephan Phelan of Human Life International has written that CRS “takes pride in not sharing the Gospel and in not preferentially hiring Catholics to do the Catholic charity’s work.” He blames the cultural drift within the organization partially on the supplanting of funding from Catholics with funding from the federal government: in 2013, 3 percent of revenue came from pew-based charitable giving compared to 70 percent from the federal government. 8

CRS officially opposes the use of condoms as contraception in accordance with Catholic doctrine. However, according to an investigation by the Lepanto Institute, a conservative Catholic organization, the CRS has promoted condom use through public education efforts in numerous Catholic countries throughout the 2010s as a means of combatting HIV and AIDS. 9 10 In 2013, the CRS was criticized by other Catholic groups for distributing $2.7 million to Population Services International (PSI), a health care and family-planning group. 11

LGBT Employee Healthcare

In 2017, CRS stopped providing healthcare to the spouse of an employee in a same-sex marriage. The employee sued the CRS for violating federal anti-discrimination laws, from which the CRS claimed it was exempt on religious grounds. In August 2022, a federal judge ruled that the CRS was legally required to offer healthcare to the same-sex spouses of employees engaged in non-religious work, including the plaintiff. 12


After the death of George Floyd in May 2020, CRS announced an initiative to combat racism within the organization. In September, the organization appointed its first “chief of people and diversity.” Soon after, the American head of CRS operations in Sudan was fired after he was arrested by local authorities for verbal racial harassment. The individual had two prior complaints of racism made by whistleblowers within CRS, one of whom claimed that the CRS had a “culture of privilege” fostered by hiring mostly white employees in its Sudanese offices. 13


  1. [1] “About Catholic Relief Services.” Catholic Relief Services. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  2. “War Relief Services – National Catholic Welfare Conference Records (CMS 026). Center for Migration Studies. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  3. “About Catholic Relief Services.” Catholic Relief Services. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  4. “Timelines.” Impact CRS. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  5. “Timelines.” Impact CRS. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  6. “Timelines.” Impact CRS. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  7. “Catholic Relief Services Audit.” ProPublica. September 28, 2022.
  8. [1] Phelan, Stephen. “The Two Masks of Catholic Relief.” Crisis Magazine. March 18, 2015. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  9. Murano, Paul. “Catholic Relief Services Scandal Growing.” Church Militant. March 11, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  10. Hichborn, Michael. “Catholic Relief Services Documents Promote Condom Use in Africa.” Lepanto Institute. March 2, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  11. [1] Jesserer Smith, Peter. “CRS, Its Partners and the Appearance of Scandal.” National Catholic Register. August 30, 2013. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  12. Pitts, Jonathan M. “Judge rules Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services violated law in withdrawing insurance from gay employee’s spouse.” The Baltimore Sun. August 12, 2022. Accessed September 28, 2022.
  13. Amin, Mohammed; Parker, Ben; Dodds, Paisley. “EXCLUSIVE: Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan.” The New Humanitarian. October 22, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2022.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1946

  • Available Filings

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Catholic Relief Services

    Baltimore, MD