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Canada Nov. 29, 2018

Bishops restore some Development and Peace funding

By Michael Swan

More than 50 overseas partners of Development and Peace remain under investigation for possible links to conflicts with Catholic teaching. (Michael Swan photo)

The funding tap is flowing again for Development and Peace, although it remains closed for 52 D&P partner organizations that continue to be investigated for alleged connections to abortion, artificial contraception, and other possible conflicts with Catholic teaching.

In October, 10 of the 12 Canadian bishops who had withheld funds from D&P earlier this year removed restrictions and forwarded the money. Among them is Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, of Vancouver. However, D&P, which works with 180 partner agencies worldwide, has agreed that no money will go to any agency under review.

“Caritas Canada will not use 2018 Share Lent funds for the 52 partners under review, so long as the situation of the partners is not clarified,” wrote executive director Serge Langlois in a Nov. 16 letter to members. “And we have placed a temporary moratorium on the financing of the partners in question.”

The Archdioceses of Edmonton and Toronto continue to withhold funds due to questions not addressed so far in the investigation. In Toronto, about $800,000 was contributed to D&P last year as part of the ShareLife campaign.

“We are very sure that it’s not going to find that we have promoted such a thing as abortion,” Romain Duguay, D&P deputy director, told The Catholic Register. “We are sure we haven’t done anything wrong.”

Canada’s Catholic aid agency has been working with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops since April on an ethical audit of its partners which operate in countries throughout Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. The audit came after a CCCB web search of D&P partners raised questions about more than 40 organizations. 

Suggestions that some partner organizations have either supported abortion access or worked for more liberal abortion laws within their own countries have dogged D&P since 2008.

Canadian bishops conducted an investigation in 2009 against several partner organizations and, although the bishops said some agencies were “imprudent,” it found no specific evidence of wrongdoing. But a follow-up investigation in 2010 looked at 248 files and found 13 that raised concerns and two that posed specific problems. As a result, D&P cancelled some projects and initiated procedural changes to ensure no donor money was affiliated with groups that support abortion.

“Even one flawed partnership is too many,” said then-CCCB secretary general Msgr. Patrick Powers.

After questions emerged again this year, D&P worked with CCCB staff to produce a 200-plus page report. But the report failed to achieve unanimous approval from bishops at their September plenary, Langlois wrote.

According to his letter, D&P was asked to “provide additional analysis, particularly on the criteria we use to select our partners.”

The names of organizations under review have been kept out of the press to protect the reputations of people and organizations who have not been proven to have worked against Catholic teaching and values, Duguay said. The review goes beyond abortion and includes such questions as public statements and positions organizations might have taken on same-sex marriage, gay rights, and gender theory.

The Catholic Register with files from The B.C. Catholic