D&P Rep Admits Partner Pushes Contraception, Opposes Philippine Bishops

You know the old saying…give them enough rope…. 

Still, what a disaster the Winnipeg Statement has been.  Curse that document. Curse it to hell…because that is where it came from.

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MONTREAL, Quebec, April 26, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A representative of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), the official development arm of the Canadian bishops, has issued a public statement in which, at the same time as he lambasts a March LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) story about a D&P partner, he openly admits that the partner in question pushes contraception. The admission marks the first time that a representative of D&P has publicly confirmed that a specific partner is involved in activities that violate Church teaching.

The LSN report had revealed that D&P is planning to send ten Canadian young adults to the Philippines in part to work with a D&P partner that is promoting a “reproductive health” bill judged by the nation’s bishops to threaten the unborn.

Danny Gillis, who has worked as D&P’s education coordinator and serves as a representative for Atlantic Canada, defended D&P’s relationship with the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) in an article posted April 21st to the Facebook page of D&P’s youth arm, Just Youth.

While Gillis insists that FDC’s promotion of the “reproductive health” bill does not constitute abortion advocacy, he admits that the group is pushing access to contraception and suggests that the Canadian bishops’ “nuanced” 1968 Winnipeg statement allowed Catholics the choice of using contraception.

According to Gillis, the March article is “typical” for LSN.  “It mixes a small bit of truth with a lot of manipulation to attempt to defame a Development and Peace partner in the eyes of Catholics,” he writes. “There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of abortion advocacy on the coalition’s website.”

At the same time, he admits that LSN was correct to report that the FDC is supporting the bill that the bishops oppose.  He claims, however, that the bishops’ opposition is not because the bill “would legalize or decriminalize abortion,” but because the bill “proposes that sex education and better access to contraception be made available to the Filipino people.”

However, the Filipino bishops stated in a November 2008 pastoral letter, that: “It is our collective discernment that the Bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb.” And in a December 2009 statement the bishops noted that the bill threatens unborn life, pointing out that “certain contraceptives actually cause the abortion of 5-day old babies.”  They also criticized the bill for threatening parents with prosecution for attempting to prevent their children from using contraception.  “All these are in the name of reproductive health and rights,” they wrote. “What about the rights of parents? And the rights of the unborn?”

Gillis acknowledges that the D&P partner has taken part in a coalition of groups “pushing for the passage” of the bill.  “The women’s committee of the FDC, as well as dozens of other groups, participated in meetings to give input into the drafting of the bill and have organized activities to educate the public about the content and importance of the bill for society’s development,” he writes.

In the article to which Gillis objects, LSN had cited as evidence of FDC’s position in favor of abortion the following quote about the “reproductive health” bill from their website: “Women’s right to choose is a basic part of exercising control over their lives,” the coalition of women’s groups, which included FDC, said.  “The Bill provides for women to be informed as to services that will ensure women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.”

According to Gillis, the use of the word ‘choice’ in this quote does not indicate that FDC is advocating for “abortion rights,” but “refers to knowledge of one’s body, the reproductive health services that are available to people and access to forms of contraception.”

“It should be pointed out that in Canada, the bishops conference in their nuanced Winnipeg Statement have not been so unrealistic as to deny Catholics a choice with regard to forms of birth control,” he claimed.  “Should Catholics in the Philippines have a choice whether to use contraceptives? Should non-Catholics? Should men and women be aware of options in this regard? These and other sensitive questions frame the debate in the Philippines.”

However, while questions remain in Canada about the Winnipeg Statement, which has not been officially rescinded, in their 2008 pastoral letter “Liberating Potential,” the Canadian bishops clearly stated that contraception violates God`s plan for human sexuality.  “Abortion, sterilization and contraception are in opposition to the Creator’s intention at the heart of sexual intercourse, preventing, if God so desires, the creation of a unique soul for the unique body that the spouses help to form,” they wrote.

The bishops also decried the fact that the family and marriage “continue to be affected by the contraceptive mentality feared and rejected in” Humanae Vitae, wherein Pope Paul VI prohibited the use of contraception.

And in denouncing the dissident “Catholics for Choice” this month, the Canadian bishops emphasized that “the position of the Catholic Bishops of Canada on abortion and contraception is clear and was recently reiterated in the CCCB Pastoral Message Liberating Potential.”

But while the Canadian bishops officially oppose contraception, it would appear that their official development arm does not; instead it is self-admittedly funding a partner that is opposing the Philippine bishops in trying to pass a bill that the bishops have said is a threat to the unborn.

This is not the first time that a D&P partner has been caught directly opposing the local bishops in the country in which it operates. Last year LSN reported that D&P partners Fokupers and REDE FETO in East Timor were spearheading the ultimately failed effort to liberalize the country’s pro-life abortion laws – an attempt that the East Timor bishops had condemned.

LifeSiteNews contacted Danny Gillis for this story, but he refused to give an interview.

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