Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 6, 2009
CCODP stops some Mexican funding
Investigation begins of on-line claims groups support 'reproductive rights'
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has temporarily suspended funding of Mexican groups that online reports allege support abortion.
“We’re looking at this very, very seriously,” said CCODP executive director Michael Casey in an interview.
“We have suspended the funding until we have a chance to go and talk with them and see what the actual situation is,” he said.
JOURNEY TO MEXICO
Senior staff will make the trip to Mexico to meet with the five Mexican partners in question.
Casey hopes the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will ask a Spanish-speaking bishop to join the trip.
Some of the controversy may be explained by the Mexican groups’ participation along with about 100 civil society groups in a United Nations’ investigation into human rights, he said.
The ensuing report included some recommendations to change Mexico’s abortion law, but Casey believes the groups signed onto the report, but not all the recommendations.
But LifeSite has pointed to information on some groups’ websites advocating abortion. Casey said CCODP couldn’t support groups that have material advocating abortion.
Allegations first surfaced on LifeSiteNews.com in mid-March that five Mexican partner organizations were “pro-abortion” for advocating changes to Mexico’s abortion laws.
Since then, online reports not only from LifeSiteNews but also from the National Catholic Register and social conservative activist John Pacheco have alleged some CCODP partners elsewhere in Latin and South America and in Africa have also pushed for “reproductive rights,” which the reports call a euphemism for abortion and contraception.
Casey said CCODP has more than 200 partners in 30 countries. “We try to the extent possible to meet with them all,” he said.
“Where there is something that is clearly against the doctrines of the Catholic faith, naturally we can’t support that.”
Not all the groups CCODP and other Caritas partners work with are Catholic. They might share goals of addressing root causes of poverty.
BIG TENT VIEW
“You really have to take the big tent view,” he said. That means not being “intolerant and rigid,” but at the same time, Catholic organizations must stay “faithful to our own values.”
“The Church and the Church network is our biggest strength,” Casey said. “We’re the progressive voice of the Catholic Church in social justice issues.”
CCODP is going to refine its policies and closely re-examine its policies in light of Church teaching in these areas, he said.
“It has implications far beyond Development and Peace and the Church in Canada,” he said, noting it affects the presence of the Church around the world.
Other members of Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella charitable agency of the Holy See, have some of the same partners in the developing world.
Not all bishops have been as “firm” as Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and Peterborough Bishop Nicola De Angelis who both issued pastoral letters saying they will withhold funds pending an investigation, Casey said.
Other bishops, including Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, have expressed concern while still supporting the Church’s annual collection for the agency.
The clearing of the air and the clarification of policies now underway will be watched with “great interest” by the bishops, Casey said.
The online reports broke during Share Lent, CCODP’s fundraising drive, responsible for one third of its budget. Annually, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, parishes across Canada take up a collection for CCODP.
“Yes, it was a major concern for us,” he said, noting it’s during the campaign CCODP has its highest profile, promoting the work it does. “Then we get drawn into a controversy like this.”
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