The Lepanto Institute has obtained a photograph of Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) director participating in a pagan/pantheist ritual. Ruth Junkin, who is CRS’s Deputy Regional Director for Program Quality in Latin America and the Caribbean, is indicated in the image above by a red arrow. In the foreground of the picture can be seen (on the left) what appears to be a black statue of Anubis (the Egyptian God of the Underworld), and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (on the right), set out on an ornate cloth adorned with candles and other unknown statues. In the center of a photo is an expectant mother wearing a crystal pendant around her neck and a flower wreath in her hair, while the hands of her friends rest on her belly. On the floor surrounding the strange array of statues and candles are Yoga mats.
The ritual taking place is called a Blessingway or Mother’s Blessing ceremony, and everything identified in the picture (the statues, candles, pendant, floral wreath, etc) all play a part. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Blessingway finds its roots in the pantheistic tradition of the Navajos:
Blessingway, central ceremony of a complex system of Navajo healing ceremonies known as sings, or chants, that are designed to restore equilibrium to the cosmos. Anthropologists have grouped these ceremonies into six major divisions: the Blessingways, Holyways, Lifeways, Evilways, War Ceremonials, and Gameways.
Parts of the general Blessingway, especially the songs, are included in most Navajo ceremonies.
According to the book, “The Goddess Celebrates,” a collection of pagan and pantheistic rituals and ceremonies for women:
The entire Blessingway Ceremony is a template for childbirth. The beginning rituals are like nesting and early labor. The grooming and washing like active labor. The gift giving like giving birth and the closing songs/prayers, delivery of the placenta and postpartum. A shamanic midwife learns how to read a Blessingway diagnostically and mythically, sharing what she saw with the pregnant woman in order to clear the road better for birth.
While modern adaptations of the Blessingway ceremony don’t have a written set of rites, most of them share certain things in common. For instance, most articles on the Blessingway mention “smudging,” the wafting of burnt sage over the participants in in the area where the ceremony is held as a means of “cleansing negative energies.”
Another element of the Blessingway is a “sacred altar” which is to represent the Mother Goddess Archetype. Recommended adornments for this altar include statues symbolizing pregnancy, motherhood, protection, etc; candles to represent generational lineages from mother to daughter; poems, symbols, rocks, or necklaces are also recommended.
The recommended “beading ceremony” encourages participating women to give a bead to the expectant mother, which would be strung on a necklace to be worn during labor.
A flower crown is also common among the many articles on Blessingway ceremonies.
The important point here is that all these elements of the pagan/pantheist Blessingway Ceremony are clearly present in the ritual taking place in this photograph.
Since a representative of a Catholic organization participated in this ritual, it became necessary to take a closer look at Ruth Junkin. Upon examining her facebook page, the first thing that stood out is the red “marriage equality” equals sign she prominently displayed.
In addition to this, Junkin “likes” several pro-abortion organizations and public figures. For instance, Junkin “likes” the National Women’s Law Center, which called abortion, “a key part of women’s liberty, equality, and economic security. But politicians keep passing laws with the goal of making it more difficult ― if not impossible ― for women to get an abortion.”
In addition to “liking” several New Age/Yoga groups, and in keeping with the theme of the Blessingway ritual, Junkin “likes” the facebook group, “Wild Woman Sisterhood,” which plays host to a large number of pagan rituals, such as this one:
But this isn’t the first time serious issues have been discovered with CRS personnel.
Since 2011, Lepanto Institute and various other pro-life organizations have exposed major problems with the personnel at CRS, including the following:
- Jessica Garrels, Program Quality & Business Development coordinator for Catholic Relief Services, was caught with an “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” overlay on her facebook profile picture.
- A survey of political contributions from CRS employees revealed that 98% of CRS employees have contributed to pro-abortion politicians.
- CRS employee Michael Wynnactively promotes homosexuality on his facebook page.
- FormerCRS vice-president Rick Estridge left after being exposed as having entered into a same-sex “marriage.”
- CRS’s vice-president for government relations and advocacy, Bill O’Keefesaid that CRS was “proud” that they doesn’t evangelize.
- Shannon Senefeld, CRS’ Global Director of Health and HIV wrote an evaluation of a CRS program in India, complaining that “full and accurate information on condoms” was not being incorporated into the program.
- Jennifer Overton, Regional Director for West Africa at Catholic Relief Services produced a memooutlining CRS’s policy mandating full information on condoms in all HIV/AIDS programs.
- Daphyne Williams, former East Africa Regional Technical Advisor for CRS started her career working for numerous pro-abortion, contraception-pushing organizations. She also helped write a CRS Operations manual which promoted condom use.
- Charisse Espy Glassman, former legislative assistant with CRS-Haiti, actually rammed pro-lifers with her car in 2011.
- CRS’s Health and HIV/AIDS Program Specialist in Cambodia, Dr. Sok Pun,participated in the pro-abortion policy of MEDiCAM, as a member of its steering committee.
- CRS’s Health Policy Advisor & Regional Advisor for Asia, Dr. Amy Ellis, worked for the abortion providing organization, Population Services International, where she contributed to a PSI paper on “global contraceptive needs.”
As continued problems with CRS programs continue to surface, including the most recent announcement that Catholic Relief Services is participating in a contraception-pushing program in Rwanda, it is becoming increasingly clear that nothing short of total separation from federal funding and a complete overhaul of the personnel at CRS will resolve these ongoing issues.