Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
Bishops find CCODP innocent of allegations
Website allegations saying groups promoting abortion were funded by D&P were unfounded – prelates
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
OTTAWA - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace should "be more vigilant in analyzing requests for financial assistance and more demanding about receiving information from possible partners."
That is one of seven recommendations from two bishops charged with investigating allegations that CCODP funded groups in Mexico who were publicly supportive of legalized abortion.
But while the two prelates - Archbishop William Currie of St. John's and Bishop Francois Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec - urged greater vigilance from CCODP, they concluded that the allegations against the organization were unfounded.
The allegations by LifesiteNews.com "are not founded on facts," the bishops said in their June 18 report.
They said CCODP has not "aided projects related to the promotion of abortion."
The bishops based their report on meetings April 16-18 with representatives of the Mexican bishops' conference and CCODP's partners implicated in the allegations.
Currie and Lapierre were assisted in their investigation by officials of the Canadian and United States bishops' conferences and officials of CCODP.
While CCODP's Mexican partners were "imprudent" in signing a human rights report that "contains several orientations not in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church," the bishops said CCODP provides assistance to specific projects, not organizations.
They recommended that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops continue to support Development and Peace as they have for more than 40 years. But they also called on the organization to consult more thoroughly with the bishops.
Currie and Lapierre saved their strongest words for Lifesite News, which made the original allegations about CCODP funding.
They called for the website to "establish an open and fruitful dialogue with Canadian Catholic groups.
"We are convinced that when a group makes allegations, accusations and denunciations against another, this can bring nothing positive to our Church and is a counter-witness to that Gospel spirit that should guide all Christians.
"Negative actions of this kind encourage suspicion, scandal and division in the Church."
The directors of Lifesite News - John-Henry Westen and Steve Jalsevac - reacted quickly and strongly to the bishops' report calling it "a whitewash."
"We repeated over and over again that the evidence in our stories confirmed that the funded groups were involved in abortion and contraception advocacy - not that D&P was funding abortion-related projects," they said in an online editorial.
Westen and Jalsevac also maintained that they had tried to have dialogue with both the CCCB and the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops but that their efforts were rebuffed or ignored.