EDITORIAL: In the Face of Mounting Evidence, D&P Says: “Nothing Could be Farther from the Truth”

March 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Development and Peace (D&P) fiasco has spiraled out of control in ways we at LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) could not have envisioned.   

Since LSN first broke the story that the Canadian bishops’ official development arm is funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico, there have been some who have accused LSN of pursuing a deliberate and malicious agenda to target D&P during their largest fundraising season. This, however, is not the case.

About a month ago, in the lead-up to the Lenten fundraising season, LSN was asked by a notable reader if D&P had cleaned up its act, in terms of funding groups that promote abortion. The question was raised because of the scandal in 2000, when D&P was found to have donated $135,000 to the March of Women, an organization which advocates for abortion and the homosexualist agenda, in addition to working for legitimate goals such as changing conditions that contribute to poverty.  (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/clc/womens_march/ and see letter from CCCB to D&P after it finally made “the difficult but principled decision” to dissociate from the March of Women – http://www.cccb.ca/site/content/view/814/180/lang,eng/)

In response to the reader’s inquiry, LSN began its current investigations of D&P in Mexico, where we were disturbed to find solid evidence that at least 5 of the 11 Mexican groups that are listed as D&P “partners” are involved in abortion advocacy in the country. We certainly did not hope to find such evidence, but once it was uncovered, clearly something had to be done.

An interview with a senior representative of D&P confirmed that the Canadian bishops’ development organization has no official policy for or against abortion, an unacceptable situation that has led to the current scandal.

We then conferred with the top leader of the pro-life movement in Mexico, who assured us that he knew of the abortion advocacy of some of the groups and was astonished that they were in receipt of funds from the Canadian bishops. A subsequent interview with a representative of one of the organizations confirmed what we already knew from statements published on their website – that the group supports abortion availability in Mexico (See: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09032313.html)
In the meantime our investigations have continued to expose incontrovertible and serious problems with D&P’s partners around the world, while D&P has merely intensified its denials and accusations against LifeSiteNews.

The initial reports on the groups in Mexico have been followed with evidence of D&P funding for abortion and contraception advocacy groups in Bolivia, Brazil, Nigeria, Benin, Guinea, Togo, and Haiti.  In the coming days we will be publishing even more reports on D&P-funded groups in other parts of the world.

While these groups also work towards other goals, pro-life advocates believe that there are other groups more worthy of Catholic aid in developing nations. Indeed, it is imperative that a Catholic bishops’ aid agency should not be financially assisting groups that are, to any degree, actively working against Catholic principles on the gravest moral and human rights issues facing our age. To do so would be to take one step forward and two steps back, to have our right hand building up at the same time our left hand is tearing down.

Despite all of the foregoing, in a letter to D&P members last week, its president, Pat Hogan, astonishingly stated, “It has been alleged on some internet sites recently that Development and Peace has been funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

The letter then goes on to specifically defend D&P against allegations of funding groups which “offer abortion services” or “offer abortion.” (see Hogan letter here: http://www.devp.org/devpme/eng/pressroom/2009/comm2009-03-26…).

However, LSN never alleged that D&P was funding groups that offered “abortion services,” but rather that the groups were involved in “pro-abortion” advocacy.  Moreover, D&P has persistently ignored in its communications that this issue has already spread far beyond the initial five Mexican groups. Additionally, D&P has continued to create the false impression that LSN’s allegations about the Mexican groups were based upon a single document signed by the groups, ignoring the plethora of evidence that LSN presented to substantiate its case.

Therefore, D&P can safely say that “nothing could be farther from the truth” about a non-allegation, a straw man that it has erected and attacked. This deceptive tactic avoids the real concern – that D&P funds numerous groups that are involved in abortion and contraception advocacy in parts of the developing world that are most under attack from anti-life forces. This uncomfortable fact has yet to be openly admitted by D&P.

Interestingly, however, D&P has also just recently announced that it is temporarily suspending funding of the Mexican partners implicated in LSN’s reports, and that it is sending “a delegation of senior staff to Mexico to meet with our partners for further consultation and dialogue.”

The question then presents itself: If “nothing could be farther from the truth,” then why has D&P found it necessary to suspend funding and initiate such an investigation? And if they believe that such an investigation is necessary, then isn’t it premature to unequivocally declare that “nothing could be farther from the truth”?

Finally, given the deceptive tactics that have been used by Developement and Peace in its defense, it would seem most appropriate that Canada’s bishops commission a totally independent investigation of D&P funding practices and policies.

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