This is the fourth part of a four part series on the D&P Abortion Scandal report issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Embarking on the mission entrusted to us by the CCCB, we traveled to Mexico on 15 April 2009 and met the following day with the representatives of the Mexican Bishops. From then until 18 April 2009 we visited the organizations concerned and held discussions with their leadership. The meeting with the Mexican Episcopal Conference was at the Conference offices and chaired by Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, Chairman of the Commission for Family, Youth and Laity. Also in attendance were Bishop Luis Artemio Flores Calzada, a member of the Commission for Social Ministry and responsible for Caritas-Mexico; Bishop Leopoldo González González, General Secretary of the Mexican Episcopal Conference; Father Armando Flores Navarro, Secretary of Caritas-Mexico; and Doctor María del Pilar Calva, a physician and bioethics advisor to the Commission for Family, Youth and Laity.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of that meeting. What are the chances of this committee revealing the details of the discussions with the Mexican hierarchy? My guess is that we won’t hear a whisper…
After the first day of discussions with the representatives of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, the Committee of Inquiry was involved in two days of meetings with the five Mexican organizations denounced by Lifesite, with separate visits to the offices of three of these organizations.
Two days for an investigation of five separate organizations? That’s not nearly enough. Here is what I wrote on this topic in another post:
Unless there was a thorough financial audit of each organization while the investigation team was in Mexico, I do not understand how the Archbishop can come to this conclusion. If they did not perform a comprehensive audit while they were there (and they did not), such a judgement cannot be based on anything substantial at all. I very much doubt that those who were on this investigation team know too much about audits or what to look for or where to look for it. And, since I have had extensive experience in performing and being on the receiving end of audits, I can tell you with some authority and competence that there is no way that the required and relevant information could have been gathered in the time D&P and the bishops were there. It would take at least 1-2 weeks per organization to do a thorough and complete job with a staff of two or more people, depending on its size. D&P was there for 4 days, and likely visited all of the 5 partners in question. It’s basically enough time to shake hands, personally listen to the denials of each organization’s representative, catch a quick siesta and pop back a tequila. Moreover, this is not merely a financial audit but a forensic one as well which would taken even more time. Sorry, the good Archbishop is simply not in a position to make such a definitive declaration.
In view of the investigation by the Committee of Inquiry, including a review of the work by the Mexican organizations in question, as well as an examination of their involvement in Mexican society and of their basic principles on questions involving both abortion and the protection of human life, the Committee conveys the following reflections and hopes.
Reflections and Hopes
1. In conclusion of our inquiry regarding the Mexican Episcopal Conference and the five non-governmental organizations in question, we believe the allegations by
Lifesite News – that financial assistance by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) aided projects related to the promotion of abortion – are not founded on the facts. Moreover, Development and Peace does not finance organizations, but provides assistance to specific projects. Our exchanges with these particular organizations clearly showed their activities concern the defence of human rights. We questioned their leadership for considerable time, and confronted them with the allegations and accusations we had heard, but did not find any evidence that they have been implicated in promoting abortion.
This has already been addressed in the previous parts of this series. But again, for the record, the pro-life community has always reported what the evidence has indisputably shown: D&P is funding groups which are pro-abortion or advocate for abortion. We have never alleged that D&P was directly promoting abortion.
Moreover, as has been shown in the previous parts of this series, both the All Rights for Everyone Network (Red Todos los Derechos para Todos– TDT) and Augustin Pro Juarez Center for Human Rights, along with the other three groups are indisputably pro-abortion groups and advocates for abortion as the EVIDENCE shows.
And finally, what kind of valid investigation merely presents the allegations to the accused and accepts their representations at face value as definitive proof of their innocence? And what authentic investigation, as a result of this mere inquiry, concludes that there was “no evidence” in the groups promoting abortion?! My goodness, compared to this Committee, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal looks like the paragon of justice and transparency.
2. We recognize that the five Mexican organizations assisted by Development and Peace were imprudent in signing the “Report on Civil Society Organizations for Universal Periodic Review”. At the same time, we understand how, working in difficult circumstances, the intention was to be in solidarity with the more than 50 other groups working for human rights in Mexico, including religious orders such as the Dominicans and Jesuits. Unfortunately, however, the Report they endorsed contains several orientations not in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
But, that’s not all that they did. The Committee is speaking to the weakest link in the allegations and not addressing the strongest. Trying to undermine the weakest link does not exonerate them from addressing the strongest one.
3. We hope the present circumstances encourage Development and Peace to be more vigilant in analysing requests for financial assistance and more demanding about receiving information from possible partners. While recognizing the good relations and communications that already exist between CCODP and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, we would encourage Development and Peace to ensure more thorough consultations with the Bishops of Canada, particularly the two Bishops who are appointed as members of the Development and Peace National Council, especially when there are questions involving moral issues such as abortion and contraception.
But, you see, folks, this is the problem. We are dealing here with a lack of understanding of how D&P works on the part of the bishops doing this inquiry. Notice that this recommendation says that there should be more consultation with the Bishops of Canada when there are questions involving moral issues such as abortion and contraception. But that’s the very problem with this whole scandal: there is NO policy on abortion or contraception so there would be no questions asked, in any case! D&P asks its pro-abortion partners no questions and the pro-abortion partners tell them no lies. And furthermore, does anyone really believe that the management of D&P is particularly concerned with the plight of the unborn? Would they ask the penetrating questions in order to dig up the pro-abort rot in the organizations which they could be potentially funding? If they are, then are we to believe that over the last 40 years of this growing list of pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-feminist groups D&P has funded, there have been no suspicions raised during this time? C’mon, let’s get real.
4. We recommend to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops that it continue to support the organization it founded more than forty years ago, and do all it can to encourage Development and Peace staff to develop a good and sound understanding of the social doctrine of the Church. Only this way will the confidence of Catholics be restored who have been bewildered by the Lifesite allegations, and Canadian Catholics encouraged to continue being generous in providing humanitarian aid in the name of their Catholic faith.
The only way the confidence of Catholics is going to be restored is for the bishops of the Catholic Church to repent. It’s quite a sad testimony that they would prefer their credibility as shepherds of the Church to be completely eroded and destroyed in the pro-life community, than simply to switch the money to legitimate organizations. We’re not even asking them to apologize, actually – only to change course and stop funding these groups. And it appears very likely that they won’t be turning any time soon, if at all.
Next time a Catholic bishop who supports D&P starts talking about being in “solidarity with the pro-life movement and the unborn”, I really hope that we have the courage as a people to treat such a claim with the utmost scorn and contempt that it so richly deserves.
5. We regret that the Mexican organizations have so little or no relation with the Episcopal Conference of their country. The practical understanding they have of various social problems and the useful analysis they can provide could serve, it seems to us, in preparing orientations for social and pastoral ministry that would benefit many who are poor and looking for dignity and freedom. We consider it important for Development and Peace to foster good relations with the Bishops of those countries where groups receive CCODP financial assistance, while also continuing to work closely with Caritas Internationalis.
Did it ever occur to the Bishops doing this inquiry that the very reason that these pro-abortion groups have little or no relation to the Mexican Episcopal Conference is because…drum roll please….they are working against Catholic social teaching! In fact, as we learn from Mexico’s national Pro-Life Committee, that is essentially what has happened:
Furthermore, “the Director of Mexico’s National Pro-Life Committee has confirmed to LifeSiteNews (LSN) that he is personally aware that at least three of the groups funded by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) in Mexico are pro-abortion. In a telephone interview, Jorge Serrano told LSN that he is aware that “The All Rights for Everyone Network is an abortionist group, CENCOS [National Center for Social Communication] is also abortionist, and [the Center for] Human Rights Augustin Pro is also abortionist.” Although some of the groups were once Catholic, they no longer are, Serrano said, adding that they have embraced Liberation Theology, which is a socialistic movement condemned by the Catholic Church.” (Source)
6. We make an urgent appeal to the leadership of Lifesite News that it establish an open and fruitful dialogue with Canadian Catholic groups. We are convinced that when a group makes allegations, accusations and denunciations against another, this can bring nothing positive to our Church and is a counter-witness to that Gospel spirit that should guide all Christians. Negative actions of this kind encourage suspicion, scandal and division in the Church. We also hope there will be a means for frank and transparent dialogue between Lifesite and the Bishops of Canada. We know our brother Bishops share this concern for unity and mutual respect which should be characteristic of the Catholic Church in our country.
1. It is not true that allegations, accusations, and denunciations “bring nothing positive”. If they are true (as in this case), they are not only positive but necessary to the Body of Christ.
2. As for encouraging suspicion, scandal, and division, that has more to do with the Bishops of Canada over the last 40 years than it does with the Faithful. Why do the bishops insist on “shooting the messenger” when the real scandal of undermining pro-life laws in the Global continues unabated and unapologetic in their name.
7. Finally, we urge the Bishops of Canada and the leadership of social justice and pro-life groups to recognize there is a continuum and integrity to all human life issues. The dignity of each human life is to be protected and promoted from conception to natural death. Thus there is an urgency to all that threatens the dignity and sacredness of human life, including violence, hunger, poverty and oppression. “The Church sees in men and women, in every person, the living image of God himself” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 105).
Amen to that. Now let’s make this mean more than lip-service. Cut the funding to the pro-abortion groups and let’s get on with spreading the Gospel.