“Trust Us” and don’t be so “Hysterical”

Here’s the latest development in the D&P abortion saga.  LifeSite’s coverage is here.

OTTAWA – Canada’s Catholic bishops remain confident in the renewal of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), despite concerns about “hysteria” and “misinformation” on both sides.

Off to a flying start!  It’s always a great thing to downplay a huge scandal by calling it “hysteria”.  Must be the new approach to communications at the CCCB!  Carry on.

At the close of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) annual plenary Oct. 17-21 in Cornwall, Ont., the CCCB’s new president Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said the bishops expressed a desire for CCODP to continue “as a vibrant institution that operates within our Catholic identity.”

To continue?!?! What about to start?

Smith stressed the bishops had set up a vehicle for dialog and collaboration through the CCCB’s Standing Committee, working with the CCODP Liaison Committee. A report to the plenary, brought up as part of the regular agenda, indicated the process is “working together very well” in a climate of “mutual understanding,” he said.

Of course. When you dialogue with yourselves, why wouldn’t it go swimmingly?  When you don’t have to dialogue with your critics, it makes the job much easier.  But there’s only one problem with that:  your credibility does not increase and the problem does not go away.  +Smith needs to get serious about true understanding and dialogue…with the appropriate parties.

Smith noted that some of the information he has seen indicates there “seems to be a real inflated hysteria that has developed around this issue.”

52 groups supporting abortion, contraception, infanticide, gay “marriage” or generally anti-Catholic initiatives is hardly hysteria.  The word is not “hysteria”.  It’s “reality”.

If people are feeling “panicky and worried,” Smith urged them to “to step  back and take a breath and look at gently and simply at what the bishops are asking for and simply trust the bishops and the leadership of Development and Peace to move forward on this.”

How can pro-lifers trust you when you 1) won’t admit the gravity of the problem and 2) don’t acknowledge the importance of dialoguing with your critics and 3) don’t think the local bishops’ permission is necessary before funding groups in the Global South?  Trust is earned, your Grace.  You must re-establish trust. You are not entitled to it, considering all that has transpired.

Though much of the latest online controversy has concerned whether bishops in the global south will have the opportunity to give a nihil obstat (Latin for “nothing hinders” or “nothing stands in the way,”) to CCODP projects in their dioceses, Smith said it was important not to “get caught up in the particular details of what we see happening.” 

Ah yes, “the particulars”.   The particulars!  Let me just say: without those “particulars”, there would be no scandal.  And without those “particulars”, there will be no resolution.   Just how are we to take the CCCB seriously when they ask us to forget the details of their “solutions”?  We’ve seen time and time again that “those particulars” are where the rubber hits the road.  They are the difference between PR “solutions” and real reforms.

But although the bishops emerged from the plenary united in support of CCODP, the Archdiocese of Toronto will continue its “practice of supporting only projects that are supported by the local bishop,” said the diocesan media relations director Neil McCarthy in an email. “We have worked with our partners at CCODP to identify a number of multi-year projects that fit these criteria.”

“We won’t hesitate to dialogue with CCODP or the CCCB Standing Committee should the need arise,” McCarthy said.

So, in other words, +Collins is interested in the particulars too.  Good for him.

Smith said the bishops want to call people “back to a fundamental trust in our process, trust in our structures and trust in our bishops.”

Why?  What have you done to regain our trust?  Calling our balanced reaction (considering what abortion is and the hundreds of millions of dollars Catholics have been donating for the last 40 years) “hysterical” does not foster trust.  It’s time for a course in communications, or, preferably, just plain old repentance.

“The bishops of Canada as a whole appreciate what Development and Peace is,” he said. “We want it to continue and that’s the bottom line.”

And that is part of the problem.  You appreciate what D&P is today.  That is not acceptable and that’s why we don’t trust you.

Smith pointed out the “vast majority of people in our country” also appreciates “how great a gift” CCODP has been for its more than 40-year existence.

Who cares what the vast majority of people say.  I bet unborn children don’t appreciate D&P’s “gifts” to the groups which push for unborn life’s destruction.  Or is that being “hysterical”, too?

Though the organization is evolving, its core remains the same as an “agency working with the bishops under their guiding, respecting the call of the laity and their apostolate, bringing the values of the Gospel to bear on the issues of injustice and to speak and to act on behalf for our needy brothers and sisters,”  he said.

Only if that were true.  In reality, it’s all about socialism, undergirded by liberation theology.

Bishop Fred Henry, who serves on the Standing Committee also spoke of “hysteria,” “anger,” and “misinformation” in an interview with Salt and Light TV, which collaborated with the CCCB in providing live coverage of portions of the week-long plenary via the Catholic digital network or live-streamed via the Internet.

Bishop Henry needs to explain what precisely is this “misinformation” he keeps referring to.  We also have to keep in mind that +Fred originally had no problem with giving money to pro-abort groups.  And +Smith wants us to trust them?  Good grief.  Most of them, including +Fred, still think the Winnipeg Statement is just great.

The bishops’ agency has been under fire from pro-life websites and blogs since March 2009 when reports accused CCODP of funding projects through partners that were “pro-abortion.”   But since the spring of 2011, blogs in support of CCODP have pushed back against elements of the bishops’ call for renewal, warning the democratic lay-run character is jeopardized.

CCODP supporters have argued a nihil obstat requirement interferes with the tradition of coalition building and networking on social justice.  Pro-life critics have defended the nihil obstat as a line of defence for bishops who wish to stop projects in their dioceses by CCODP partners who supporting abortion or artificial contraception.  

But Henry spoke of a more nuanced approach to problems that might arise.

“We are not asking for the local bishop to give a kind of a nihil obstat to the project,” Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary told Salt + Light TV’s (S+L) Kris Dmytrenko Oct. 19. “But what we’re looking for is to inform, communicate with the local bishop and have him become an active partner in the project itself and the selection of partners.”

Should differences arise the matter will be deferred to the Standing Committee and Liaison Committee.

So, in other words, the local bishop’s permission is not necessary.  Do the Canadian Bishops think they can poach into another Catholic Bishop’s jurisdiction?  I sure hope not, but if they think they can, they have another thing coming. Socon or Bust will do its best to ensure that, provided D&P releases its partners’ names (something which is not at all guaranteed), the local bishop and Rome is informed of the CCCB and D&P activities.

Henry told S+L the “revisioning” of a 43-year old agency that had operated under a specific mandate is bound to have “bumps in the road” and that it “is not going to be an easy process.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s social justice encyclical Caritas in Veritate presents a “holistic understanding of the human person and development itself that stretches us and asks us to expand our conceptual framework on how we view these issues and how we respond to them,” said Henry.  “This takes time.”

Really? Why?  It should have taken a 5-minute phone call to the local bishop.  Instead it’s going to take a decade.  And at what cost to pro-life countries?

When an organization has “been doing something for 43 years the same way” there is going to be “some friction,” he said, adding  “I’m amazed at how well it’s going and how far we’ve come even in the past year.”

I’m not that amazed.  If there’s only “some friction”, there’s still a problem.  There’s gotta to be lots of friction…or else, +Fred doesn’t get it.

Henry acknowledged that CCODP is a lay organization added it is not productive to put bishops in one camp and laity in another. He noted the sacrament of baptism gives all, including bishops, a status in the People of God. “We tend to put people in boxes,” he said.  “We say well, you’re progressive; you’re conservative, you’re clergy, you’re a bishop.”

“We’re the People of God, trying to problem-solve together.”

You’re not trying to solve it with us. You are simply engaging in a PR stunt and dialoguing amongst yourselves.  You fear that, in dialoguing with us, your unwillingness to take clear and effective measures will be exposed.  That’s what this is about.

3 thoughts on ““Trust Us” and don’t be so “Hysterical”

  1. B as in B. S as in S. The D&P envelope is the first one I rip outta my envelope box every year and toss. I guess this year will be no different. pity. They will have to account for this someday; I doubt there will be much of a “dialogue” when that day comes. as it will for all of us.

  2. I agree, Lois.
    Personally, I drop an empty DP envelope in the collection basket each Lent, after writing on the outside in big letters “NO MONEY FOR ABORTION”. I’m sure the ushers take notice.

  3. As a Pro-Life activist in Mexico, the question I heard repeatedly was why didn t any of our organizations recieve any amount of money from the Lent Collection by Catholics, ever. This has been very hurtful for us here and I ask you to put yourselves in our place. I personally am grateful to those responsible for reporting any facts to help us advance the defense for life and pray daily for these good Bishops to turn around and do what is right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
16 − 1 =