OTTAWA (CCN)—Canada’s bishops are putting pressure on Development and Peace to ensure it remains fully Catholic, says Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian bishops conference.
That means a study on the Catholic aid and development aid agency’s overseas partners, presented to bishops at their annual plenary Sept. 26, is “still ongoing” and there is no word yet whether bishops who have been withholding funds collected last spring will release them.
“What we are trying to do is, when Development and Peace are saying they are the Catholic social arm of the Church, they have to be Catholic,” said Bishop Gendron. “There is a work; it’s a bit slow, maybe too slow.”
“We want to put pressure, and I think the fact some of the bishops retain the funds (is) a way of putting pressure,” he said.
Twelve bishops, including Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller, have withheld between $2-4 million in funds from their annual Lenten collection for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, pending the results of a joint-study by the CCCB and CCOPD, after concerns were raised about some overseas partners in Haiti that seemed to be supporting abortion and contraception. Their concerns led to a joint study to examine all of CCODP’s partners.
“It is a work in progress,” said Bishop Gendron.
The CCCB also wants to ensure people working at the diocesan level to help those in the global south understand what the problem is regarding concerns about Development and Peace, said Bishop Gendron – “that we are Catholic and want to be Catholic.”
“We need to be persevering and patient, and at the same time we have to put some pressure so we will see the end of it,” said Bishop Gendron.
“We are continuing to work with the CCCB on this dossier and to dialogue,” said Serge Langlois, the director general of Development and Peace in an Oct. 1 email.
“There have been advancements and we hope that the situation will soon be resolved so that funds can go towards supporting the poorest and most vulnerable in the Global South. Those funds belong to them.”
According to the online French-language news site Présence, Langlois told journalist Francois Gloutnay the study revealed problems with about 40 of the agency’s overseas partners which have pushed agendas contrary to Catholic teaching.
Langlois told Gloutnay, however, the study showed none of the specific projects funded by Development and Peace were contrary to Catholic teaching or social doctrine.