The Zenit.org article that was release yesterday had some new and interesting remarks by Msgr. Weisberger….
“I can tell you that the bishops’ visit found no evidence that Development and Peace was in any way implicated in abortion services or abortion advocacy,” said the archbishop, who heads the Winnipeg Archdiocese. “[But] that really wasn’t the allegation being made. The allegation is that they are funding people who are involved in other ways, and we found no evidence of that, either.”
That’s a pretty remarkable statement, considering the voluminous evidence to the contrary. Eye witness accounts, audio interviews, the pro-abortion partners own websites, credible third party websites, pictures…. Didn’t you get the eye-witness report and pictures I sent you back on April 17, your Grace? To be clear, over 40 partners that D&P funds are directly involved in pro-abortion or other anti-family initiatives. Some of them list these objectives as their primary mission.
Archbishop Weisgerber acknowledged that some of the agency’s partners are collaborating on separate projects with groups that adhere to principles opposed to Catholic teaching.
No. D&P’s pro-abortion partners are not merely collaborating with other groups. They are THEMSELVES directly involved in pushing for abortion. I invite his Grace to read the eye witness testimony about one of D&P’s Nicaraguan partners. No one who is even remotely interested in the truth can come to a different conclusion.
He insisted, though, that the support given by Development and Peace is directed to specific projects that are not in violation of the Church’s position on abortion and contraception. The report is based on a fact-finding trip to Mexico from April 15-18 conducted by officials from the bishops’ conference and Development and Peace. The agency’s involvement in an investigation of its own partners has raised concerns about objectivity, but the archbishop dismissed those fears, saying that Development and Peace simply facilitated the visit and had no role in the writing of the report.
Unless there was a thorough financial audit of each organization while the investigation team was in Mexico, I do not understand how the Archbishop can come to this conclusion. If they did not perform a comprehensive audit while they were there (and they did not), such a judgement cannot be based on anything substantial at all. I very much doubt that those who were on this investigation team know too much about audits or what to look for or where to look for it. And, since I have had extensive experience in performing and being on the receiving end of audits, I can tell you with some authority and competence that there is no way that the required and relevant information could have been gathered in the time D&P and the bishops were there. It would take at least 1-2 weeks per organization to do a thorough and complete job with a staff of two or more people, depending on its size. D&P was there for 4 days, and likely visited all of the 5 partners in question. It’s basically enough time to shake hands, personally listen to the denials of each organization’s representative, catch a quick siesta and pop back a tequila. Moreover, this is not merely a financial audit but a forensic one as well which would taken even more time. Sorry, the good Archbishop is simply not in a position to make such a definitive declaration.
Archbishop Weisgerber said the letter was initially received by fax from a Vancouver lawyer with the bishop’s name blacked out, and was only later formally sent to the conference. The archbishop noted that the communication was highly irregular considering the long, close partnership between Development and Peace and the Peruvian bishops. The bishops’ conference is still seeking to clarify the claims made in the letter.
I submit that it is highly irregular too for one nation’s bishops to encroach and fund pro-abortion groups in another nation without informing the resident bishops or their conference. That’s not only irregular. It’s offensive. In this case, it’s not only irregular and offensive, it’s scandalous and arrogant. It’s quite telling and sad that Msgr. Weisgerber would rather elucidate the intricacies of church diplomacy and etiquette than deal with the serious and definitive conclusions reached by the bishops of Peru regarding the pro-abortion groups D&P is funding there. It is only mildly ironic that his Grace is complaining about etiquette while failing to see the problem of the CCCB’s encroachment on other bishops’ territory without their knowledge and under the most scandalous of circumstances. I find this acutely distasteful, to be quite frank. Moreover, it is not clear what Msgr. Weisgerber wishes to “clarify”. The letter was pretty straightforward:
1) The bishops of Canada are funding pro-abortion groups in Peru.
2) Please be so kind as to stop funding them.
What more clarification is needed?
According to Archbishop Weisgerber, the Development and Peace controversy served to highlight several important issues in the local Church. He said a vacuum in pro-life leadership has caused many Catholics to turn to Web sites for authoritative information on life issues. “I think the issue here is, who decides what it really means to be Catholic? And I think this is where we have had a little difficulty when people are going to Web sites to decide what it means to be Catholic rather than turning to the bishops,” he said. Archbishop Weisgerber says he plans to push for real national leadership on pro-life issues.
The vacuum of pro-life leadership has indeed caused the flock to turn to lay leadership. And do you know why that is, your Grace? Because the Bishops of Canada have been missing in action for the last 40 years on this question, primarily because of the Winnipeg Statement which has prevented any serious movement among them on the contraception and abortion front. They can’t commit as a group to serious pro-life work because they won’t address the Winnipeg Statement. For over 40 years, millions of people around the world have been consigned to the sexual gutter because of that document, and still we hear no hint of acknowledgement, much less repentance. All we hear is lame excuses. And as for real national pro-life leadership from the bishops, I’m all for that. But what I want to know is if “real national leadership” comes with real money too. D&P gets $10M from Share Lent. How much is 42 million dead babies a year worth to the CCCB?
And as for turning to websites to decide what it means to be Catholic, your Grace, no one believes that’s necessary. First of all, we have faithful bishops in Peru and the Global South who share our opinion of the CCCB’s conduct in this matter. We also likely have a few bishops here in Canada which share our views. We’re by no means alone, without support from the episcopacy. We don’t need the internet to make a very basic moral judgement.
It’s funny how the Canadian Bishops Conference once told us that it was OK to follow our consciences in using a condom, but now apparently, conscience is “out” and submission is “in” when funding groups operating condom distribution centers in Togo.