A Messy Business: My Response to Msgr. Weisgerber

As previously reported here, Msgr. James Weisgerber, the Archbishop of Winnipeg and current president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave an interview in French with Salt & Light TV in which he discussed the current Development & Peace abortion scandal.

Some of his remarks noted below in blue, however, need clarification and correction. 

“I can assure you and the Canadian Catholic public that the delegation found that there was no foundation to these allegations. They performed an investigation that was very close [here he means an investigation that was very much on the ground] with the organizations as well as with the Conference of Bishops, and we can assure you that none of the money was spent to promote abortion, nor for support of abortion with the funds of Development and Peace.”

First of all, it is necessary to be clear on what the allegations actually are.  Neither Socon or Bust, nor LifeSiteNews.com, nor any other news organization or blog that I know of has ever reported that Development & Peace was directly funding abortion.  Rather, it has been our claim – and the evidence clearly proves this – that Development & Peace has been funding pro-abortion groups who have been heavily involved in advocating abortion in the developing world along with other anti-family initiatives like so-called “reproductive rights” (i.e. contraception, sterilization, etc), “reconstruction of masculinity”, “gender training”, etc. etc..  Therefore, it is incorrect and false to assert, as Msgr. Weisgerber does above, that there is “no foundation to these allegations”. On the contrary, the allegations (the correct allegations not the ones contorted by D&P) are firmly established and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.  

Secondly, it is simply unacceptable and futile to launch an investigation where the accused (Development & Peace management and their abortion partners) are both the judge and jury.   Do these parties not have a vested interest in covering up this abortion scandal?  Of course they do. Therefore this “investigation” is a farce.   Generally speaking, people who are serious about opposing abortion don’t generally trust pro-abortion groups to tell them the whole truth about where the blood money comes from.  Why would they?   Can Archbishop Weisgerber guarantee that the money given to these groups is not, in any way, being used to leverage or enable the advancement of “abortion rights”?  I cannot see how he can make this remarkable declaration without doing a full scale audit of each pro-abortion organization that D&P funds.  Are the funds that these pro-abortion partners receiving strictly segregated between legitimate charitable works on the one hand and the feminista agenda on the other hand?  I highly doubt it.  Naturally, the pro-abortion groups don’t make Catholic (or financial) distinctions between the immoral and the moral works they engage in because they regard, for all intents and purposes of this discussion, all of the works which they perform to be equally important and valid.  They do not share Catholic values.  For the most part, their philosophy is rooted in social and political marxism.  Many of these pro-abortion organizations which D&P funds show abortion and other “reproductive rights” as one of their primary missions on their own websites.

Right now, all that we have is the word of Msgr. Weisgerber and Development & Peace.  And from where did they get their assurances and “evidence” of no wrong-doing?  From the groups they are investigating?  Come now. Let’s get serious. What good are these assurances if they are, in turn, only dependant on the word of these abortion pimps in the third world?  Moreover, the whole premise of the investigation was flawed from the outset since it did not address the substance of the allegations.   There was no need to travel to Mexico on an expensive junket to receive a rubber stamp from D&P’s pro-abortion partners.  The results of this “investigation” don’t convince anyone because they don’t address the actual allegations.  D&P needs to speak to the issue – not around it, over it, or under it.  Speaking to the issue means conceding the evidence and trying to justify how an official arm of the Canadian Catholic Bishops can financially support organizations which advocate for abortion and other abominations as part of their mandates.

The relevant question that still remains therefore is very, very simple: do the bishops of Canada really and truly understand the implications and consequences of their position on funding virulently pro-abortion groups?  It sure doesn’t look like it, but they will find out soon enough.

In accepting the word of these pro-abortion partners, there are really only three choices in assessing the conduct of D&P and the bishops. D&P and its supporters are:

(A) totally naive about the malicious and pernicious nature of the international pro-abortion movement;

(B) willfully blind and rank the environment and other politically correct causes over the most fundamental and basic of all human rights which is the right to life;

(C) tolerant and supportive of abortion in some or all circumstances.

I really hope it’s (A). I fear it’s (B). And I don’t want to even think about (C). 

But those groups work with other groups [suggesting these other groups may not be morally acceptable]. But that’s important for the church because in the last forty years, the Church has desired for Christians to be involved in the world, especially with poor people, and to work with anyone. But we must really distinguish between moral values, and we could not support anyone who went against Church teaching.

First of all, this is a false presentation of the dilemma.  The assumption here is that the Church has no other option but to co-operate with these pro-abortion groups.  But that of course is untrue. At the very least, D&P could work with the local diocese or the bishops’ conference in a particular country to develop a thoroughly Catholic and Christian development and aid agency.  This, of course, does not even include many other organizations in these countries, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who do not press for “sexual reproductive rights” and should be rightfully considered.  Another possibility is to give the money to the Sisters of Charity, but that would likely not be a palatable option.  We wouldn’t have those nice glossy fliers and the brand name recognition and glory that Development & Peace brings to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, would we?  The final option is to close up shop and let the people place their money with Catholic organizations like Chalice who ensure Catholic teaching is followed.

Another major concern is that D&P does not co-operate enough with the bishops of these poorer countries (although they do with some) which, in my opinion, shows a patronizing and arrogant posture towards the Global South.  It suggests that bishops from a first world country think they know better on how to “do social justice” than their brother bishops who live and preside in these countries. The arrogance and presumption of our Canadian bishops and their aid agency is nothing less than staggering in this regard.  The recent rebuke by the Peruvian bishops of the Canadian hierarchy certainly highlight this fact in spades.  There would be no Peruvian scandal if D&P had had the temerity to let these poor Peruvian bishops know who they were funding and what they were doing.  But when you’re a rogue organization with little to no moral accountability to Catholic ethics, these things are par for the course in the lush social justice fairways of Development & Peace. If they had consulted with the Peruvian bishops about these groups, there would have been three less pro-abortion groups getting our money.  Moeover – and this should be a point of particular concern to the universal church – how does Msgr. Weisgerber justify the encroachments of Development & Peace in another bishop’s territory without first letting him know what D&P proposes to do?  There’s a legitimate question of canon law here and its possible disregard.  It would be bad enough if the encroachment was a legitimate form of aid to the flock in another bishop’s territory, but what bishop would appreciate a scandalous attack on the unborn in his own back yard without even knowing it!

Can. 459 §1. Relations between conferences of bishops, especially neighboring ones, are to be fostered in order to promote and protect the greater good.

§2. Whenever conferences enter into actions or programs having an international character, however, the Apostolic See must be heard. Source

Can. 393 The diocesan bishop represents his diocese in all its juridic affairs.

Can. 394 §1. A bishop is to foster various forms of the apostolate in the diocese and is to take care that in the entire diocese or in its particular districts, all the works of the apostolate are coordinated under his direction, with due regard for the proper character of each. (Source)

Furthermore, we are not dealing with a benign group or non Catholic Christians or other people of good will. We are dealing with pimps for the culture of death.  Therefore, any co-operation whatsoever must be examined very carefully and very prudently before agreeing to any kind of alliance.  Only under extraordinary and dire circumstances should an alliance with these groups even be contemplated.  Any proposed alliance must be an independent venture which does not permit of formal fungibility or leverage for the pro-abortion group.  There has to be a strict control in how the partnership is managed to ensure that Catholic sacrifices are not offered at the altar of death.  The tangible sacrifice which allows this to happen is money.  Therefore,  if we cut the flow of the money to them, we eliminate much of the problem.  In fact, it would be interesting to see how many of these groups, when threatened with loss of funding, would stop their abortion advocacy. It might be significant.  One thing is for sure:  having strict conditions on getting the money is going to only help the pro-life movement battle the rapid and accelerated assault on the unborn child in the Global South. 

As it stands now D&P is effectively writing them a blank cheque to be used at their own discretion.  Maybe these pro-abortion groups were able to redirect 20, 30, 50, 80% of their budget to pro-abortion advocacy as a result of D&P funding taking care of their “legitimate work”, or worse by shaving off a healthy proportion of the funds they actually received from D&P for pro-abortion causes. We simply don’t know, their protestations of innocence notwithstanding.  D&P doesn’t either.  We know that because they don’t have an abortion policy. They don’t ask and their partners don’t tell.  Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.  As mentioned above, the money all goes into the same pot.  Besides, we already know that many of these organizations are merely front groups for abortion and “sexual reproductive rights” propaganda. We certainly have the pictures and eye-witness accounts to prove it

The poor of the Global South came looking for bread from their wealthy Canadian brothers.  Instead, they got free condoms, courtesy of D&P’s fungible funding.

One last point, and it’s a question that everyone in this debate really needs to reflect on:  Suppose this entire scenario was repeated exactly, but instead of abortion or “reproductive rights” being the issue du jour, D&P’s partners were instead advocating for human trafficking or racism.   Does anyone really believe that D&P or these supportive bishops would continue to fund these groups?   The funding would be cut the next day and we all know it. There would not be any appeals to “working with people who don’t share Catholic values”, I can assure you of that.  And yet, when it concerns “sexual reproductive rights” and aborting an unborn child, D&P and the CCCB have a remarkably different and more tolerant posture.  What does this say, I wonder, of their commitment to the pro-life cause? 

Answer: Not. Very. Much. 

INT: Ah, there! These allegations came from the internet. But they raise questions about the Catholic label of Development and Peace. Development and Peace is the organization for charity and social justice of the Catholic Church in Canada. Do Canadians know and feel this?

JW: Well that’s the question– who’s going to pronounce [themselves on that] or judge that? Groups on the internet that we don’t know, or bishops who are designated by the Church, by the Good Lord, to do that? We assume our responsibilities. We support this organization. It’s been forty years. We are very proud—In fact, it’s maybe a good thing because the bishops of the English sector are very agitated by this, but the others do not have the same experience, emotion in the same sense.

No one is questioning the authority of the Catholic bishops. However, as history has shown us many times, episcopal authority can be abused.  If this scandal continues for much longer and the bishops continue to delay, deny, and obfuscate, they will have abused their episcopal authority and caused incredible damage to the trust and fidelity we owe to them individually and also to the office they hold.  Furthermore, it is not valid for Msgr. Weisgerber to frame this question as a matter of trust between the bishops and the “groups on the internet”.  The internet is not a person who wields authority. No one is relying on the authority of John Pacheco or any of the reporters at LifeSiteNews. We don’t hold any authority whatsoever over a Catholic bishop or the Faithful.   However, insofar as these internet sites point to the factual evidence and the truth of this scandal, the authority they wield, which is founded on the unassailable evidence itself, becomes a much more problematic question for any bishop who wishes to deny what is right before his eyes.   Even a bishop must submit to the truth, yeah, even if presented by a layperson.

Moreover, let us not forget that this is not merely a question of the authority of the Canadian bishops but of the Peruvian ones as well (update:  Vatican Radio interviewed Alejandro Bermudes, the head of the Catholic News Agency and ACI Prensa who noted that in addition to the bishops of Peru, “the bishops in Bolivia and Mexico, have expressed their concern that the Committee for Development and Peace … has been providing … significant financial support to organization that actively are involved in the promotion of abortion.”  (Source)) Therefore, it is not valid to frame this debate as bishops vs. lay people.   With all due respect to Msgr. Weisgerber, if it’s a choice between believing the Peruvian bishops’ declaration on the pro-abortion groups funded by D&P and the disapproval of the same on the one hand, and the Canadian bishops’ pronouncement that their current funding practices are acceptable on the other hand, I know which group of bishops I will be siding with.

And it’s not the group that gave us the Winnipeg Statement.


2 thoughts on “A Messy Business: My Response to Msgr. Weisgerber

  1. What’s with Winnipeg?

    First it was the Winnipeg Statement and now this.

    Is it something in their water?

    On a serious note, I’ve been busy writing a letter to my Archbishop asking how he plans to proceed. I’ll tweak it up as more information comes available and mail it in a few days. My Archbishop took the D&P scandal very seriously.

  2. Great idea. I’ll write my bishop as well. This is clearly a messy spot for a seriously pro-family Canadian bishop to be in now.

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