Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 15, 2010
Development and Peace upbeat about Share Lent
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
MONTREAL - As the Share Lent campaign nears its Ash Wednesday launch, Michael Casey is upbeat about the future of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
A successful campaign to bring relief to Haiti after the devastating earthquake raised the profile of CCODP across the country, Casey said. More than $4 million has been raised so far, and he expected it to rise to $5 million by the Feb. 12 government deadline for matching funds.
An ad hoc committee of bishops set up to provide oversight has met for the first time and the agency is in the midst of developing a new five-year plan that has energized membership, CCODP's executive director said in a Feb. 9 interview.
The agency hopes to raise $10 million in this year's campaign. Though last year's Share Lent was marred by online reports accusing CCODP of working with "pro-abortion" overseas partners, the collection levels were not hurt by the negative stories.
Casey said he does not know whether this year's campaign will also see a spate of negative reports. But he is pleased with the relationship CCODP has with the Canadian bishops, who founded the agency more than 40 years ago.
"Over the past year, we've been working very closely with the bishops," he said. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops set up an ad hoc committee to "accompany us and examine some of the issues." That committee, chaired by Toronto Auxiliary Bishop John Boissonneau, includes Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, Sherbrooke Archbishop André Gaumond and Rimouski Bishop Pierre-André Fournier, held its first meeting Feb. 8 in Ottawa.
REACH AN UNDERSTANDING
CCODP is not necessarily dropping the partners who were targeted as "pro-abortion" in news reports. CCODP has discussed with the groups involved ways to find a common understanding. "Catholic principles have to be central to the relationship," he said.
Casey said the agency is not going to deviate from its core work in social justice. "Our Catholic identity is central to everything we do."
That identity is found in the group's emphasis on the "preferential option for the poor," and its focus on women. "Everything we do is rooted in our foundation in the Gospel," he said.
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