CCODP investigates abortion support allegations
Two Canadian bishops shall travel to meet Mexican bishops
OTTAWA — Two bishops will lead a committee of inquiry into allegations that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has funded overseas organizations that have publicly advocated abortion or contraception.
The two Canadian bishops on the committee, established by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, are Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s, NL, and Bishop François Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
They will be assisted by Msgr. Carlos Quintana from the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he is executive director of its secretariat for the Church in Latin America. The committee of inquiry will go to Mexico April 15-18 and report to the CCCB on its findings.
SUPPORT FOR ABORTION?
Over the past few weeks there have been allegations that some groups in Mexico, which received project funding from Development and Peace, had shown support for abortion.
In addition to confirming it does not support any groups in favour of abortion, CCODP also received and posted on its website written assurances from the five groups that they do not promote abortion.
CCODP had also announced there would be “an immediate inquiry with the five Mexican partners to get to the bottom of these allegations.”
The president of the CCCB, Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, said, “There has been a lot of confusion sown in the minds of Canadian Catholics. It is now important to provide answers that respond to the important questions that have been raised.”
Weisgerber said the committee of inquiry would investigate the specific issues raised by the Mexican allegations and review first-hand how Development and Peace approaches its work with its partners in the Global South.
He indicated the two bishops on the CCCB inquiry would meet with bishops from Mexico.
In an April 3 interview, CCODP executive director Michael Casey said, “All of these allegations that have come up are definitely a concern of ours and as part of our review process we’ll be looking into this.”
The previous week, CCODP suspended funding to five Mexican partners that LifeSiteNews reported advocated changes to Mexico’s abortion laws.
CCODP will send a team of Spanish-speaking staff to Mexico to investigate.
Casey said rather than focusing on “one incident or one partner,” CCODP will do a broader-based review in collaboration with the bishops’ conference.
“The mission to Mexico is the first specific step, but there will be further steps as we dialogue with the bishops on these issues in the modern Church.”
Until now, CCODP has not had a specific policy on overseas partners who may advocate for wider access to legal abortion as part of the work they do.
“We do not support their work on abortion if they do work in abortion,” CCODP international program director Gilio Brunelli told LifeSiteNews March 11. “That is very clear in our principle.
“Now, if, on the other hand, if they support a work of collective outreach for the poor, that is something that we can and do support.”
DEVELOP A POLICY
On March 20, the CCODP national council, which includes two bishops, decided the organization must develop a policy.
Casey said the policy would include an affirmation of their work “in the context of Catholic social teaching and Gospel values.”
“Many of these groups are involved in working situations with the poorest of the poor people,” said Casey. “It’s all about human life and human development and human dignity.
“We have to be the ones who support this. If anything, we are the prolife people in our work.”
Some partners are fighting endemic violence against women, genital mutilation and other forms of oppression.
“We have had cases where there have been activities by a partner that we cannot, have not, and will not support, but that does not necessarily call into question the whole aspect of the partnership because of all of the other good work that they’re doing,” he said.