Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 2, 2009
Bishops to keep closer tabs on Development and Peace
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canada's Catholic bishops will release funds to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) as well as increasing their oversight of the agency.
"Aware that Development and Peace is already engaged in this process of renewal, the bishops decided, in the interval, to support Development and Peace and its 2010 Share Lent collection," said a statement released Oct. 23, at the close of the five-day Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) annual plenary in Cornwall, Ont.
The bishops said they were encouraged by D&P's intention to review its mandate in light of Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate and to vet its overseas partners through local bishops' conferences.
They affirmed the "excellent work" the development agency has done over the years.
The funds had been withheld after online reports began surfacing last March, alleging that some of D&P's overseas partners had been funding projects through agencies that were "pro-abortion."
Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins had withheld about $1 million in funds, until agreeing to release them only to projects with overseas partners approved by local bishops.
In the statement, the bishops acknowledged the online reports had "shaken the faith of some of the faithful."
On Oct. 19, in public session, Charlottetown Bishop Richard Grecco, one of two bishops on the D&P board, released the agency's annual report, which revealed the controversy's effects on the Share Lent collection were "minimal" and "in line" with 2008 contributions across Canada.
Grecco said D&P is taking steps to "ensure appropriate oversight and monitoring of partner activities to avoid further controversies," through a working group.
In response, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast raised concerns about the report and a letter D&P had written to the bishops.
"Here they're asking for a continuation of life and business as usual," Prendergast said, noting the importance of the matter to the Ontario bishops. "I'm not sure we can accept that right now."
Collins followed by suggesting a change in a line in the report that said the D&P "came under a concerted Internet-based media attack by certain militant advocacy groups and individuals, alleging that Development and Peace was financing and promoting abortion programs and advocacy through our partner networks in several countries in the Global South."
Collins said he was not aware of any allegations that D&P directly financed or promoted abortion programs.
LISTEN TO CRITICISM
"When one is criticized it's important to either admit the criticism is just or prove that it is not," he said. "It's important to listen to what the criticism is."
The bulk of the D&P discussion, however, took place behind closed doors on Oct. 20, resulting in the CCCB's decision to appoint a new ad hoc committee to put D&P under tighter supervision.
The agency has operated independently of the CCCB, though two bishops sit on its board.
Criticism of D&P first surfaced on LifeSiteNews.com, and then spread to other pro-life websites and blogs.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.