The Case for Reform

 “Openness to life is at the center of true development.”
Pope Benedict XVI

LifeSiteNews.com has launched the Charity in Truth Project to promote Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a reform of Catholic charitable agencies. In our first campaign, we are calling for a meaningful and transparent reform of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), the Canadian Bishops’ official development agency.

The Scandal

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Image taken from a document disseminated APROSIFA, a Haitian D&P partner.

In March 2009, LifeSiteNews.com revealed that D&P was funding five groups in Mexico that have worked to pressure the Mexican government to legalize abortion. Over the course of the next year, investigations revealed at least two dozen groups advocating abortion in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Many of these openly admitted their abortion advocacy in phone interviews. Other pro-life researchers have suggested the number of problematic groups was vastly greater even than two dozen.

From the beginning, D&P denied the allegations and called LifeSiteNews’ reporting “dangerously irresponsible and slanderous.” Nevertheless, Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins announced in July that he was going to restrict their funding, and similar action was taken by numerous other bishops.

In Nov. 2010, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced D&P would undergo a renewal and formed a Standing Committee to oversee it.

But the scandal was back in the public eye again in April 2011 when D&P invited the priest-head of one of its pro-abortion partners to speak in Ottawa and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was forced to cancel his talk. After speaking with him, the Archbishop judged that his group’s actions were “incompatible with the Church’s defence of the right to life from conception to natural death.”

As part of the renewal, the bishops have cut funding to many of the pro-abortion groups, but it is impossible to know how many remain because the agency has refused to release a full list of its grantees since the scandal broke in 2009.

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This Lent, D&P is running its Share Lent fundraising campaign under the theme ‘Human Dignity’. Yet their campaign materials fail to even mention the right to life, focusing exclusively on issues like the option for the poor, care for creation, and economic justice. This, despite the fact that the Church’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states that “promoting human dignity implies above all affirming the inviolability of the right to life, from conception to natural death.”

Even without their list of partners, LifeSiteNews and other Catholic researchers have still found pro-abortion groups among the fraction of partners they profile on their website. The two currently profiled are APROSIFA, which has produced literature on how to obtain abortions, and the NGO Forum on Cambodia, which has called for greater access to “safe abortion.”

Pope Benedict’s Reform

The Charity in Truth Project is inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s reform of Catholic charities, mapped out in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate and codified in a Motu Proprio on Dec. 2, 2012. The Pope has insisted that Catholic agencies remain faithful to Church teaching in their funding relationships.

In Caritas in Veritate, he emphasized that “openness to life is at the centre of true development,” and decried the effort by Western nations to export abortion on the developing world. In a Jan. 19th, 2013 address to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, he insisted that Catholic agencies “must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian anthropology.”

The Scandal Must End

Inspired by the Pope’s clear vision, we are urging Canada’s Bishops to end the scandal at D&P once and for all. In the mean time, we are urging Catholics to cut off their donations until Catholics are shown that none of our money will go to groups that violate Catholic moral teaching.

For more information about the ongoing scandal at Development and Peace, visit LifeSiteNews.com’s feature page with a comprehensive listing of coverage from the last four years.