The Bishops of Canada at their October 2010 Plenary Assembly received the report by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). This Ad Hoc Committee was set up by the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), following a resolution a year ago by the Plenary Assembly. In 2009, the Bishops had recommended that an ad hoc committee study the mandate and principles of CCODP in light of Caritas in Veritate, clarify the role of the Bishops in the governance structures of CCODP, and support CCODP in its renewal process.
The 2009 Plenary motion had also noted the close bond that has united the CCCB with CCODP since its foundation, as well as the profound desire of the Bishops of Canada that CCODP continue its mission.
Following the presentation of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee, the 2010 Plenary Assembly voted in favour of establishing a Standing Committee, to be made up of four Bishops plus the General Secretary as an ex officio member. The Standing Committee will advise both the Canadian Conference of Bishops and CCODP. It would provide a forum to share information and collaborate more closely on achieving their common goal, which is to help the world’s most vulnerable persons. As well, the Standing Committee would assist Development and Peace in its ongoing renewal as indicated in the following key points. The precise mandate of the new Standing Committee and its membership will be determined later this year by the CCCB Permanent Council.
Key points from report by the Ad Hoc Committee
In its report to the 2010 Plenary Assembly, the Ad Hoc Committee stated that CCODP had cooperated fully with it, providing complete and detailed information on each of its current projects and partners, as well as full disclosure on all points which had been raised. It was also noted by the Ad Hoc Committee that CCODP is currently working on 248 projects, each of which were reviewed by the Committee. Following its review, the members of the Ad Hoc Committee were satisfied with the results.
In its report, the Ad Hoc Committee also noted that CCODP is preparing protocols to ensure that organizations requesting future funding are fully aware that CCODP is a Catholic agency which adheres to Catholic principles. Furthermore, any organizations requesting funding will also be obliged by the same protocols to disclose any projects that they may be involved in which would contradict Catholic principles of respect for life. This exchange of information between CCODP and its partners will involve a process of dialogue, discussion and decision. In addition, the proposed revision of the CCODP Partnership Agreement will reflect the obligation to respect life values and conformity with Church teachings. A proposed exit strategy has been developed by CCODP for the cancellation of any controversial partnerships. Each of the proposed documents will be made public once they have been formally approved. Some aspects will also require changes being incorporated into the CCODP By-Laws, a process which takes a number of months.
Furthermore, the Ad Hoc Committee reported, CCODP will ensure that any future statements on problematic partners will be developed in consultation with the CCCB. To date, CCODP continues to seek guidance on this from the CCCB. In order to assist CCODP and its partners, Development and Peace has drafted proposed criteria on ethical issues for working with its partners. These will provide a “theological framework” for CCODP activities.
In order to ensure that there is good communication with local Bishops in developing countries, CCODP has already developed a specific protocol by which its program officers, as part of their regular routine, will establish contact with local Bishops, including visiting them and providing information on CCODP and its local partners. In addition to contacting the local diocesan Bishop, the respective Episcopal Conference and the Caritas organization of the local country may also be invited to help facilitate communication. As well, Development and Peace has asked the CCCB to be involved in this process, in order to help build bridges with the Bishops in the Global South.
Among other points made by the Ad Hoc Committee was that Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE (an international alliance of Catholic development agencies) have been following the current CCODP renewal process with considerable interest. Over the years, other Catholic aid agencies in the world have also experienced similar concerns as those that have been raised with regard to CCODP. Among those having had such difficulties are Catholic Relief Services, which relates to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and CAFOD, which relates to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In each case, working committees were formed with Bishops and the organization concerned in order to collaborate in addressing the problems and ensuring conformity with Church teaching. (Source)
Commentary to follow tomorrow. For now, we are cautiously optimistic.