“Catholics urged to keep giving to Development and Peace”

As an investigation proceeds into Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace‘s funding policies, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging Catholics to continue to give to the development and humanitarian assistance arm of the Canadian church.

In the first statement from the bishops since an Internet site accused the Development and Peace of funding “pro-abortion groups” in Mexico, conference president Archbishop James Weisgerber invoked Pope Benedict XVI’s mission to Africa and the worldwide financial crisis as reasons to continue to give generously.

“By contributing to Development and Peace this year on 29 March, our gifts can bear fruit for the life of the world,” wrote Weisgerber in a March 19 letter to Canada’s Catholics. “To serve Christ, we are invited to follow His example — to give of ourselves that others may live.”

LifeSiteNews.com accused five Development and Peace partners in Mexico of signing a document which advocates a national abortion law limiting legal abortions to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions in the first trimester are currently legal in Mexico City, but illegal in most other parts of the country except in cases of rape or incest.

The LifeSiteNews.com charge has since been supplemented by a blog entry on the National Catholic Register web site which accuses one of Development and Peace’s Bolivian partners of being pro-abortion. The Bolivian non-governmental organization, Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral (Community Preventive Health Centre), trains poor women on the outskirts of La Paz in basic health care and first aid. Development and Peace has helped fund the organization since 2003.

Weisgerber’s letter to Catholics does not say when the bishops’ investigation into Development and Peace’s funding policies will be complete or whether the results will be made public.

“The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is working closely with Development and Peace to clarify these questions and to ensure that, if necessary, rectifications are made,” wrote Weisgerber. “At the same time, it is important for dioceses and parishes to recognize the tremendous importance of the Share Lent collection, held in most places across Canada on the fifth Sunday of Lent. Sharing temporal riches and giving to the needy have always been part of the threefold Lenten tradition for Christians: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.” (Source: Catholic Register)

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