Poor judgment

  • March 25, 2010
{mosimage}For more than 40 years Canadians have been fortunate to have the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace rolling up its sleeves on their behalf to deliver aid to some of the poorest regions on Earth. But somewhere along the way D&P seems to have lost its way.

How else to explain a bizarre D&P document recently leaked to the public that is rife with misrepresentation and distortion as it disparages the respected Catholic pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition? How else to explain the hypocrisy of D&P itself resorting to an ugly smear campaign when just a year ago the overseas development agency was crying foul over alleged assaults on its integrity that, they cried, were fuelled by slander and unfounded accusations?

The document is a 10-page letter that, according to D&P executive director Michael Casey, was sent to key D&P stakeholders to refute allegations contained in a series of online articles about D&P published last March and April on a prominent pro-life web site. Casey said the document was intended for internal use only but “regrettably, unfortunately,” it has become public.

The issue, though, is not that the document became public. What is regrettable and unfortunate is that the overseas development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops would resort to name-calling, concoction, half-truths and, a lawyer might argue, defamation, to undermine the difficult work of Canada’s most effective anti-abortion organization.

The most contentious D&P claim among several odd statements is an outrageous and unsupportable suggestion that Campaign Life sympathizes with the tactics of radical anti-abortion groups that use violence to achieve objectives. That is patently false, as even Casey has admitted. Yet the D&P document categorically states Campaign Life is a “militant” organization and, almost as odd, is in no way affiliated with the Catholic Church.

D&P clearly is still smarting from year-old allegations that some of its overseas partners had ties to organizations that support abortion. Those claims appeared in a series of articles on  LifeSiteNews.com, a strident family-issues web site founded by Campaign Life.

It’s surprising that D&P has chosen to rehash that old dispute. Last summer, a bishop’s report on those allegations — a report woefully bereft of detail — exonerated D&P of wrongdoing. Regrettably, though, the bishops failed to explicitly address evidence that raised worrisome questions about five specific D&P partners in Mexico. Therefore, in many minds, the issue was unresolved. Since then more unsettling claims about D&P partners in other countries have surfaced.

So it seems imprudent for D&P to be suggesting now that all of last year’s allegations were unfounded and the result of a smear campaign against them. And very odd, indeed, to start smearing others and, in the process, re-opening a discussion about its overseas operations.

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