Time to Ask Some Tough Questions about Free the Children, the OCSB, and the Canadian Bishops

Many of you have probably read yesterday’s explosive report which details how the Bishops of Kenya have asked Canadian Catholics to stop supporting Free the Children:

“Considering the evil caused to families and society in Kenya by the use of contraception, Catholic Bishops in Kenya through Catholic Health Commission of KCCB request that donors in Canada and the United States direct their generosity to Catholic health facilities and not to contraception-distributing institutions and programmes such as Free the Children’s Baraka Medical Centre. We are requesting that this be done through the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya who the Catholic Bishops hold responsible for the Catholic Church’s health apostolate.”

The original report has raised many issues which require further probing:

1. Someone’s Not Telling the Truth:  Kielburger tells us that health clinics (Catholic and Secular) are “mandated by law” to provide contraceptives to patients who ask for them.   Bishop Njiru states that “it is not a requirement by law” to provide contraceptives.  So, we need a clarification from Mr. Kielburger as to what law is he referring to, precisely.  And, who are we to believe in the mean time while we wait on his response – a bishop in that country who is the Chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya or the chief promoter of something called “We Day” whose organization has had a history of criticizing pro-life measures?

2.  Show and Tell:  And if Mr. Kieliburger is misinformed and is conveying false information, what impact does this have on the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s relationship with Free the Children?  Is it going to be business as usual, as it has been for the past few years with the Trustees and Guardians of Catholic education?  Or, if the good bishop’s statements are correct, is the OSCB finally going to stop partnering with organizations who give them false information and have had a history of promoting anti-life activities in direct contradiction to the Catholic Faith?

3.  Direct Request to Stop Supporting Free the Children:  The Bishops of Kenya have asked Catholics (and presumably this includes the Canadian Bishops and the Trustees of Catholic Education) to stop giving to “contraception-distributing institutions and programmes such as Free the Children’s Baraka Medical Centre“.  There you have it, folks.  It can’t be any clearer, specific (mentioning the Clinic by name) and more resounding than that!  The Bishops of Kenya have singled out Free the Children as unworthy of Catholic support.  So, now, the question becomes what is the Ottawa Catholic School Board going to do?  Are they going to ignore the Bishops of Kenya and their authority to make such a determination?   And if they ignore such a request, what does that really say about their Catholicity and respect for the Church in the Global South?  Isn’t part of the OCSB’s solidarity mandate to respect our brothers and sisters in the Global South?  Well, here is their chance to stop playing the proverbial fool for the rich, western, imperialist population-controllers, and put their vote where their allegiances lie.

4.  Where are the Canadian bishops?  Here we go again.  Remember this tune?  You’ve heard it before, my dear readers.  It’s shades of Development and Peace all over again.  Let’s review:  Canadian Catholic agency partners with pro-abort, pro-contraception, pro-Marxist, pro-gay marriage, pro-fill-in-any-hell-bent-socialist-cause.  Canadian Catholic Agency does not respect the canonical rules of the Church in not  supporting any group who does not have the explicit support of the local bishop or the National Conference of Bishops in the country.  Do you see, gentle reader, the striking similarity here between the OSCB and Free the Children and Development and Peace and its partners?  And so, we humbly ask the bishops of this country to apply the same rules they have for Development and Peace to all the Catholic School Boards in Canada.  If any of these Boards’ partners do not have the explicit approval of the bishops of the particular country in which these groups are operating, then they cannot be supported.  Easy peasy.  Or is there one rule for Development and Peace and another rule for the Ottawa Catholic School Board?  If I was a Development and Peace member, I’d be phoning up my bishop and asking him why the double standard currently exists.

5. Who’s Driving the Bus?  This fiasco once again pulls down the Emperor’s clothes and what we are seeing is not very pretty at all.  Just who is driving the bus in the Church?  Who is controlling the name “Catholic”?  Who is giving money on behalf of the Catholic Church?  Who is ensuring that our practice – our pastoral witness – is in line with what the Church teaches?  Just how long and how much evidence is going to be needed before we get some movement on this file?  What is it going to take?  An appeal to the Kenyan bishops to launch a formal complaint to Rome because the Canadian Catholic Establishment doesn’t take control of the run-away bus?  Something’s gotta be done and soon.  The Lay Faithful have a right for the bishops and trustees to hold the line and preserve the Faith.  Is that so much to ask?  Isn’t that at least part of their vocation, after all?

6. Opportunity for Evangelization:  Here’s a perfect opportunity for the School Board to actually evangelize.  Challenge the Kielburgers to rediscover their Catholic Faith, drop the condoms and “family planning”, and continue on with some of the good that they do.  Ask them to renounce the culture of death and see what happens.  Either we all win on their conversion, or we prove to everyone that they’ve played us a like a fiddle all this time.  What?!  Did we really think the New Evangelization is all sweetness and light?  I think not.  This is exactly the kind of evangelization that is required, because in this culture, there ain’t such a thing as “soft evangelization” when confronting the evil of contraception and the culture of death that surrounds it.

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