A newsletter from an international aid group in Quebec provides some interesting insights into the behind-the-scenes efforts to reform Development and Peace (D&P) and bring it to respect Catholic teaching.
The newsletter comes from a left-wing group called Fonds Solidarité Sud or FSS (meaning South Solidarity Fund). They are an international development group, although they are very small and have a relatively low profile. The funding portion of their operations is also relatively new.
The FSS newsletter announces that they have decided to cease their affiliation with D&P and stop making contributions. Why? Because D&P is experiencing an undesirable “turn to the right” driven by “conservatives” in the Church. They regret that D&P has been unable to emancipate itself from Church authority during the current scandal:
“After study and deliberation during the summer, we, at the Fund, unanimously think that D&P, which has been in crisis since 2009, will need to demonstrate its independence from the Church in the future (the Vatican and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops), which won’t happen tomorrow!” (Source). Socon or Bust translation. The bold appears in the original.
They explain that they had been supporting the “progressive” movement within D&P over the last two years but to no avail. They repeat the usual errors, namely that D&P was falsely accused of acting contrary to Church teaching. Naturally, they don’t address the evidence.
It’s beyond ironic that while faithful Catholics have been boycotting D&P for more than two years, the lefties are also bailing out on them. Doesn’t this illustrate the suicidal approach of the CCCB in taking a marshmallow position during the scandal in order to try and please all people? They ended up pleasing nobody!
Rumours of good news, let’s not get too excited
Alongside their newsletter, the FSS published another letter providing more details on their decision to abandon D&P. This letter suggests that the faithful bishops in the CCCB have taken the upper hand during the back-alley arm-wrestling over the soul of D&P.
According to FSS, one of D&P’s partners in Sierra Leone had been directed to cease working with another organization on HIV-AIDS prevention. They don’t explain why. This factoid is interesting because our list of 50 deviant partners doesn’t include anybody from Sierra Leone (although I have some serious suspicions about one of them). Has the CCCB been doing their own background checks on all partners?
FSS also laments that D&P is being reined in by the CCCB and by new directives from the Vatican to the effect that the Church’s international development agencies must exhibit their Catholic identity and include evangelization as part of their work. If true, that would be marvellous. We’ll see.
They also write this:
“D&P’s strategic plan for 2011-2016 indicates their choice to reinforce the Catholic nature of the organization and affirms its conformity to the social and moral teachings of the Church in the current restrictive perspective of the Vatican.” (Source) Socon or Bust translation.
I haven’t seen D&P’s program for 2011-2016. I don’t think they’ve published it yet. I presume they will need approval from the bishops at the Plenary Assembly this fall. If this info from FSS is accurate, it suggests that the bishops may have finally whipped the management of D&P into submission.
FSS criticizes D&P for “bowing” to conditions being imposed by the CCCB to “maintain the financial support of the Church.” That would be great, if true. It only makes sense that rogue organizations would not be entitled to plunder the collection basket without shame.
A new permanent committee of bishops will apparently be established and D&P will have to report directly to this committee, independently of its dealings with the Board of Directors. This would be a significant change in accountability structure that proves that something was grossly wrong with D&P, denials notwithstanding. You don’t implement a new accountability mechanism that goes over the head of the Board if everything is peachy. Of course, the bishops on this committee will have to be alert and on-the-ball, which is no gimme. The blogosphere will be more than happy to assist them in their duties.
FSS also states that “D&P will increasingly choose to work first with Catholic communities, both in the North and in the South.” This strikes me as eminently sensible. Why work with some revolutionary communista when you can partner with a Catholic religious order? Again, this isn’t fool-proof, as we saw with the infamous Jesuit Fr. Arriaga, but it helps.
The FSS emphasizes that these changes are being implemented voluntarily by senior executives at D&P. Other evidence suggests that the Board of Directors simply saw the writing on the wall and realized that their organization was headed for bankruptcy if they were ever excluded from parish collections. If there hasn’t been a sincere change of heart, then we’ve solved relatively little. Isn’t the Church about genuine conversion of hearts rather than forcing people to obey? In practical terms, you’d want the organization to be populated with people that embrace the vision and values of the Church, not reluctant people who obey grudgingly and who might start a mutiny when you lower your guard. Having a silent majority of dissenters is what got D&P into this predicament in the first place.
Conclusion: patience, young Padawan
Overall, FSS brings some startling claims, but until we see it coming from D&P’s mouth it remains just rumour and speculation. Let’s not take our foot off the accelerator. The war isn’t won yet. We should learn more at the CCCB Plenary this Autumn.
The fact that FSS is ceasing its affiliation with D&P is a monumental blessing. These are exactly the types of “friends” that D&P doesn’t need. The secularism of FSS and their unfaithfulness to Church teaching is a corrupting influence on D&P. Better to go our separate ways.
Let’s keep praying and pushing.