July 11, 2011

TORONTO — Canadian bishops are welcome to advise Development and Peace about overseas partnerships but CCODP members say they will make final decisions about which organizations are funded.

CCODP's national council passed a unanimous resolution at a June 10-12 meeting that essentially reaffirms that funding decisions will be made by the council and its 12,000 strong predominantly lay members.

The national council consists of 20 elected, volunteer representatives from across Canada, plus two bishops.

CCODP acts as the international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada.

The resolution came in the wake of a recent decision by the CCODP executive, acting on abortion-related allegations expressed by a Mexican cardinal, to revoke the funding of the Mexican human rights organization Centro PRODH.

That decision prompted a defiant resolution from CCODP members in Quebec and New Brunswick in support of Centro PRODH and calling for restoration of its funding.

Although the national council discussed the controversy surrounding Centro PRODH's funding, it did not take a position on the matter. Instead, it set up a committee to work with the Canadian bishops to talk through the issues.

"There's been a lot of hurt and a lot of anger regarding that issue with PRODH," said national president Ron Breau. "But we have a lot more partners. We have 130 partners and we have to look at the well-being of everyone."

The new committee will almost certainly ask the bishops about a recent letter from former Centro PRODH executive director Father Luis Arriaga to the chancellor of the Ottawa Archdiocese.

The 1,900-word letter from Arriaga rejects accusations that Centro PRODH supports organizations that lobby for legal abortion in Mexico.

"Centro PRODH is falsely and without foundation accused of having supported Mexican legislation related to abortion," Arriaga wrote.