TORONTO, July 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a letter made public today, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (D&P), the official development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued an apology to Campaign Life Coalition (CLC). The letter comes in response to an April 20 CLC lawyer’s letter noting slanderous statements in a document produced by D&P and threatening legal action. D&P has now retracted the statements in question and apologized.
The letter, signed by D&P executive director Michael Casey, acknowledges the two most flagrantly slanderous statements in its Q&A document, which was obtained by LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) in mid March. Those slanderous statements were:
- “These groups are part of the far right wing fringe element of North American society and have themselves been associated with groups and individuals who have resorted to violence to publicize their cause and achieve their objectives.”
- “These single-issue militant advocacy groups, particularly those focusing on anti-abortion advocacy, continuously misrepresent facts and distort reality to serve their purpose.”
Responding to these statements, the new D&P letter states: “DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE acknowledges that any inferred or implied references to Campaign Life Coalition in these quotations are false, and we unreservedly retract these comments. We extend our sincere apologies to Campaign Life Coalition for any embarrassment that this document may have caused.” The apology letter claims, however, that LSN published the “internal” Q&A document without their prior knowledge or consent. In fact, LSN did contact the D&P representative that distributed the document and attempted to contact Casey for comment; but D&P has refused to speak with LSN since our first investigative reports about the organization, which published evidence that they are funding numerous groups involved in abortion advocacy throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia. Moreover, the letter makes no mention of apology or retraction to LifeSiteNews.com which was similarly slandered in the Q&A document. An attempt by LSN to reach D&P to view the altered Q&A document or to get comment from D&P was unsuccessful. As of this date, the problems with D&P’s funding practices remain unresolved. Numerous groups in receipt of D&P funding continue to advocate for abortion. D&P has rejected dialogue with LSN over the matter and only engaged in dialogue with CLC after CLC threatened legal action over the slanderous statements in the Q&A document. LSN has thus far decided not to pursue legal action against D&P. As from the beginning of the matter, LSN continues to hope that D&P, as the official development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, will adhere to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church and refuse to fund groups which advocate abortion, contraception, homosexuality and the like. To see all the LSN coverage of the D&P controversy click here.
There are a number of points which need to be raised about this apology, lest people get the wrong impression of what is actually going on here.
1. Development & Peace is a duplicitous organization.
In mid-March, Development & Peace sent out an email to its supporters making some wild accusations against the pro-life movement and Campaign Life in particular. These examples below are just a small sample of the wild, malicious, and false accusations they made against Campaign Life and LifeSiteNews:
These single-issue militant advocacy groups, particularly those focusing on anti-abortion advocacy, continuously misrepresent facts and distort reality to serve their purpose. They create lots of noise, slander people and organizations and remain relentless in the pursuit of their attacks. Any organization or individual that does not adhere to their dogmatic view of social issues will be kept in their crosshairs, including DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE…”
These groups are part of the far right wing fringe element of North American society and have themselves been associated with groups and individuals who have resorted to violence to publicize their cause and achieve their objectives.
The fact of the matter is that the management and/or the staff of Development & Peace are liars.
1. They lied and continue to lie about their partners not promoting abortion: “Not one of our partners named in any of the controversy has ever promoted or assumed advocacy positions that could be objectively interpreted as “abortionist” or “pro-abortion”. (Source: D&P’s Q&A Document).
2. They lied about Campaign Life “slandering people” and “associating with groups who have resorted to violence”.
Now, they’ve admitted the second lie but want everyone to forget about the first one.
2. Distribution of the Q&A document
This referenced document was an internal resource document, in working draft form, which was distributed internally as a discussion draft on a restricted basis to some of our regional staff and certain members of our National Council (Board of Directors). It was with surprise and dismay that we learned that a copy of the document had been obtained and published by LifeSiteNews.com and other media without our prior knowledge or consent.
Socon or Bust received its copy of the communication days before LSN’s report was published from a priest who has no working relationship at all with Development & Peace. How does Development & Peace explain that? Therefore, it is unlikely that the communication was as limited as Development & Peace suggests. Even if it did have such limitation, does not the management of Development & Peace nevertheless have a duty to ensure that such communication is accurate before distribution to its members? On the other hand, maybe Development & Peace has a mole working in its ranks.
Moreover, according to LSN, “the apology letter claims, however, that LSN published the “internal” Q&A document without their prior knowledge or consent. In fact, LSN did contact the D&P representative that distributed the document and attempted to contact Casey for comment; but D&P has refused to speak with LSN since our first investigative reports about the organization…” Development & Peace cannot have been that “surprised or dismayed” if they didn’t return LSN’s call about it, can they? On the other hand, they requested a meeting with Campaign Life about the legal action, and got a hearing from them, but they, themselves, didn’t have the decency to 1) address their malicious communication before it was made public by LSN and 2) talk to LSN directly about the abortion controversy since the early days of their abortion scandal. They are dismayed at having the letter published, but not dismayed at the substance of the crisis at all. Just more denial, obfuscation, and lies.
3. A “Legal Apology” Only
Development & Peace did not apologize out of the goodness of their heart. Nor did they suddenly seek out Campaign Life and LSN for a dialogue on the substance of the allegations. No. Their “apology” and “dialogue” only came about because they were going to get sued for their slander which was widely recognized as such even by The Catholic Register:
The issue, though, is not that the document became public. What is regrettable and unfortunate is that the overseas development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops would resort to name-calling, concoction, half-truths and, a lawyer might argue, defamation, to undermine the difficult work of Canada’s most effective anti-abortion organization. (Source)
Development & Peace did not come forward voluntarily to apologize but were forced to do it when they were facing a libel suit. What does that tell you about this organization and its management? It’s more concerned about its image and “social justice” reputation than it is about correcting the record and admitting the facts. That’s par for the course with D&P as this whole abortion drama has shown everyone. We all make mistakes. What is important is to correct the mistake as soon as possible and issue a genuine apology. We do this 1) for a respect of the truth and 2) for the sake of basic justice to the injured party. Normally, Catholics do not require a letter from a lawyer to tell us to do it. But then again, the management of Development & Peace is only acting in a way which is totally consistent with their lack of basic Catholic moral coherency which, of course, stems from their lack of respect for human life.
4. Bishops: Missing In Action
It’s a sad state of affairs that a pro-life organization has to go to a lawyer to seek justice from an official Catholic organization which is accountable to the Catholic bishops of this country. Even apart from the substance of this dispute (i.e. D&P’s funding of abortion groups), you would think that some bishop some where would have the good judgement to force Development & Peace to apologize simply for the sake of common decency and a basic appreciation for the truth.
You would think.