OTTAWA - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) is drafting a process to make decisions about overseas partners, especially if controversy arises.
If approved, it will leave the agency with the ability to make the final call about the non-Catholic partners it works with in the Global South.
Dubbed the "3D approach to partnership," according to a joint news release June 18 from CCODP and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the three Ds are: Dialogue, Discernment and Decision.
"Dialogue would include conversations by Development and Peace with its actual or proposed partners," the joint-release said.
"Discernment includes the ways by which CCODP liaises and dialogues with its partners and with the bishops of Canada as well as with local bishops in the Global South."
"Decisions remain the responsibility of Development and Peace as part of its overall accountability," it said.
In an interview from Montreal, Michael Casey, CCODP executive director, said the 3D process is still a work-in-progress and needs final approval by the agency's national council.
It is the product of the work of the CCCB's standing committee on Development and Peace and the CCODP liaison committee struck to work closely with the bishops as they guide the agency's reflection on Pope Benedict's 2009 social justice encyclical Caritas in Veritate.
The 3D plan has been developed over the course of two joint meetings of the two committees, one in February and one in late May.
Prior to reports appearing online in 2009 criticizing some overseas partners as "pro-abortion" for working to liberalize abortion laws, CCODP reportedly had no specific policy on abortion when it came to working with non-Catholic partners at that time. That is no longer the case.
Casey said partners are made aware of "our positions and our shared values" as a Catholic agency in the discernment process.
The 3D process is a "working framework set up for discussion with the (CCCB) standing committee if some controversy arises with a partner," Casey said. "This is not just an arbitrary reaction to something in the media or some comments made about our partners."
The CCCB has encouraged people with concerns about CCODP partners to bring them to the standing committee. But Casey said he did not know of any specific complaints by individuals.
The issues discussed on the committee have come from the bishops on the committee seeking clarification, something their brother bishops might want to know, or something that may have arisen in their dioceses, he said.
The committees have also jointly discussed the impact of the new agreement with CIDA that has reduced federal funding of CCODP by $5 million a year. "It's about 25 per cent of our total budget," Casey said.
The number of CCODP partners has dropped from 180 to about 100, he said. "The main window that got affected was the partnership branch."
All development agencies are facing budget crunches as countries in North America and Europe cut back in the face of the mounting debt crisis and foreign aid is reduced, he said.
Some countries are changing policy orientations. "It's a global trend," he said. "We're all in the same boat."