Church Funds went to Abortion Supporters
An apparent split has developed among Canadian Catholic bishops over the Canadian Church’s overseas development arm “Development and Peace.” D&P is the Canadian version of the US bishops’ Catholic Relief Services.
On March 12, 2009, the online newspaper LifeSiteNews ran the first of a series of stories which included documentary evidence showing D&P’s funding of organizations supporting abortion and contraception. On April 17, LifeSite detailed D&P funding extending to at least 17 organizations in 10 countries: Benin, Brazil, East Timor, Guinea, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, and Togo. The article named each organization and specified their activities. The series produced a negative response from some Canadian bishops. In a March 23 letter, James Weisgerber, archbishop of Winnipeg and the current president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the accusations against D&P were “untrue.” Also on March 23, Archbishop Daniel Bohan of Regina, called the reports both “false” and “malicious.” But the evidence LifeSite compiled was compelling enough to provoke an extraordinary May 28, 2009 letter from the bishops of Peru to the Canadian bishops, formally requesting the Canadian bishops to cease funding groups in Peru which support contraception/abortion:
“Each (funded) group either explicitly endorses abortion, and/or contraception, either by name or by its various euphemisms like ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ or some derivation thereof,” wrote the Peruvian bishops. “In that sense, we respectfully would like to formally request that the funding for the pro-abortion groups in Peru by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace be halted.”
The Peruvian bishops also wrote: “It is very disturbing to have groups which work against the bishops of Peru by attempting to undermine legal protection for the right to life of unborn children, be funded by our brother bishops in Canada.”
On June 18, Archbishop Martin William Currie of St. Johns, and Bishop Francois Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinth, writing for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, responded to LifeSite’s 60-story series with a two and one-half page report. The short report, which was “assisted” by D&P officials, referred to “allegations” by LifeSite, ignoring the fact that the LSN articles were not “allegations” but presented documentary evidence that the funding of the organizations had occurred. The bishops’ report did not mention the letter from the Peruvian bishops. Further, the bishops’ report only examined the instances where D&P had funded organizations that support abortion/contraception in Mexico. It ignored the other 9 countries involved. However, the report did criticize LifeSite:
“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.”
But the LifeSite series does appear to be bearing fruit. On March 17, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, the largest archdiocese in Canada, issued a statement calling for an investigation of D&P: “Development & Peace has not as yet received its funding from ShareLife for 2009. Be assured I will not allow any money raised in the archdiocese of Toronto to be used for pro-abortion activities or organizations.”
On March 25, Bishop Nicola De Angelis of the diocese of Peterborough, joined Archbishop Collins: “On the example of other dioceses, we have contacted Development & Peace to express our deep concerns and have asked that they address this extremely serious matter immediately.” His Excellency also said: “Be assured I will not allow any money raised in the Diocese of Peterborough to be used for pro-abortion activities or organizations.” Other Canadian bishops have echoed this position.
Since these statements were made nearly two months before the bishops’ report was issued, the report itself seems somewhat behind the curve. On July 22, Archbishop Collins followed up. He said that all funds from the Archdiocese of Toronto earmarked for D&P will now only be given to organizations approved by the local bishop: “We will set aside $1,125,000, which will be available for projects of Development and Peace which are operated by organizations endorsed by local bishops.” That stipulation would bring D&P in line with the US bishops’ Catholic Relief Services.
His Excellency also called for a “thorough review” of D&P. “(I)n this coming year there needs to be a comprehensive review of the organization, including its mandate, its governance and organizational structure, its policies and protocols related to the funding of projects, and the instruments of communication linking Development and Peace and the Canadian bishops…It is vital that this coming year be one in which Development and Peace experiences profound renewal, and the depth of that renewal will determine its future,” he said. “Future ShareLife funding for Development and Peace will depend upon our assessment of the degree to which the issues that concern us have been resolved.”
Some Canadian clergy are more vehement. Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of CatholicInsight.com said: D&P “…has always been driven by political ideology; in fact, by a political ideology of the left, even more so than by its Catholic religious motivation…let D&P rest in peace for eternity.” (Source: California Catholic Daily)