OTTAWA – Canada’s Catholic bishops will release funds to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), at the same time increasing their oversight of the agency.
“Aware that Development and Peace is already engaged in this process of renewal, the bishops decided, in the interval, to support Development and Peace and its 2010 Share Lent collection,” said a statement released Oct. 23, at the close of the five-day Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops annual plenary in Cornwall, Ont.
The bishops said they were “encouraged” by D&P’s intention to review its mandate in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate and to vet its overseas partners through local bishops’ conferences. They affirmed the “excellent work” the development agency has done over the years.
The funds had been withheld after online reports began surfacing last March on LifeSiteNews.com alleging some of D&P’s overseas partners had been funding projects through agencies that were pro-abortion. Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins had withheld about $1 million in funds from the archdiocese’s ShareLife campaign, agreeing to release them only to projects with overseas partners approved by the local bishop.
In the statement, the bishops acknowledged the online reports had “shaken the faith of some of the faithful.”
On Oct. 19, in public session, Charlottetown Bishop Richard Grecco, one of two bishops on the D&P board, released the agency’s annual report, which revealed the controversy’s effects on the Share Lent collection were “minimal” and donations were “in line” with 2008 contributions across Canada.
Grecco said D&P is taking steps to “ensure appropriate oversight and monitoring of partner activities to avoid further controversies” through a working group. The agency has also established a theological reflection committee.
The bulk of the D&P discussion took place behind closed doors on Oct. 20, resulting in the bishops’ decision to appoint a new ad hoc committee to put D&P under tighter supervision. On Dec. 2, the CCCB’s Permanent Council will appoint its members.
The agency has operated independently of the CCCB, though two bishops sit on its board. The ad hoc committee will allow the bishops to “collaborate” with D&P to “ensure that the implementation of its mandate is in harmony with the identity and mission of the church,” according to the statement.
The new committee will also help the agency live up to the recommendations of a report of inquiry two bishops made last June after a trip to Mexico to investigate five D&P partners which were the subject of initial reports. It will report to the CCCB’s next plenary in 2010.
The D&P controversy also prompted the bishops to reassess how they respond to life issues.
“If bishops don’t step up others will who may present a distorted view of the church’s teaching,” London Bishop Ronald Fabbro told a closed door session on pro-life issues, according to a CCCB news release. “We need to inform our people on the foundations of our faith.”
The Permanent Council will create a second ad hoc committee to “develop an intermediate and a long-term strategy for the promotion of a culture of life and family in Canada.” It will report to a subsequent meeting of the Permanent Council. (Source)
This is likely to be the last report about Development & Peace in the mainstream Catholic press for some time. Socon or Bust will likely cease from commenting on Development & Peace as well, until such time as there is something to report. The issue will likely die down until December 2 when we will see which bishops make up this “Ad Hoc Committee”. The composition of that committee will likely determine the path that the Bishops will take Development & Peace: either towards more confrontation with pro-life Catholics or towards pastoral fidelity in witnessing to the dignity of the unborn.
I do, however, want to make a few final remarks….
1) Ticket to Ride – Bishop Grecco said that the controversy’s effects on the Share Lent collection were “minimal”. There are two reasons for that. First, because there were only a few preliminary reports on the abortion scandal before the 2009 Lenten collection was taken up in late March. Therefore, the dissemination of the news did not have time to make its impact. Besides, this sort of information gets passed on by word of mouth to faithful Catholics in the pews. After all, we cannot rely on the diocesan censors to tell the truth to the people.
Since then, however, the evidence reported has become overwhelming and conclusive. Although the Lenten 2010 collection will not suffer drastically, there will likely be another small dip. The reason for that, of course, is that most Catholics in the pews still do not know what’s going on. They don’t follow Church politics and there is no way for them to know about Development & Peace’s abortion scandals.
I’ll tell you this, though, if the blood money does not stop flowing after this Ad Hoc Committee offers its recommendations, Socon or Bust will “kick it up a notch”. What will come in the future will make Socon or Bust’s current criticisms look like the Amish on sedatives. I’m not bluffing either. Humiliation appears to be the only thing that moves these bishops. Entreaties and appeals for the past 40 years have not. That is for certain. So if it’s humiliation that finally brings movement, then that’s going to be the ticket to ride if this thing is not cleaned up COMPLETELY.
2) Where Have You Been, Darlin’? – I think it’s pretty sad that it took an abortion scandal of epic proportions to actually get the bishops to “develop an intermediate and a long term strategy for the promotion of a culture of life and family in Canada“. If this story never happened or if it just blew over, do you all think that the bishops would have finally started to move on the issue of fighting abortion?
Nah, me neither. Not in our dreams.
Which kind of makes these jaw-dropping revelations all the more important — if only to get the bishops to grab a clue on what’s really important in the 21st century.
3) Show Me the Money, Honey! – Development & Peace gets tens of millions of dollars from the Church every year. How much does COLF get? Peanuts. That had better change. It’s not just a matter of stopping the blood money from flowing. It’s about enlarging the pie in the pews and cutting the pro-life movement THEIR FAIR SLICE OF IT. Where your treasures are, your Graces, is where your heart is. Money is sacrifice, and we want to see that sacrifice applied to actually fighting abortion instead of enabling it.
4) It’s All About Being Relevant – I’m not sure if this Committee will bring in ACTUAL MEMBERS OF THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT into their deliberations. If they “go it alone” and do not seek the input from the Pro-Life Community directly, that action would not be very smart. There has to be full, complete, and transparent dialogue so that the pro-life community’s views are represented in the recommendations. That way, we can avoid another negative report or accusations of whitewash — which, I can guarantee all of you, I will not hesistate to levy once again, if necessary.
Let’s do this right, once and for all!