D&P executive director Michael Casey

New LifeSite accusations target D&P Haitian partner APROSIFA

  • March 13, 2012

Canadian bishops are once again facing embarrassing questions about an overseas organization that received funding from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P).

This time, the issue involves a Haitian organization, APROSIFA, that allegedly dispenses free contraceptives and promotes access to abortion, according to an online report.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said it takes these concerns “very seriously.” However, a CCCB spokesman pointed out that APROSIFA (Association pour la promotion de la santé integrale de la famille) has been endorsed by Haitian bishops as a reliable organization. Support by local bishops is a mandatory prerequisite to receive D&P funding.

In a March 5 report, the pro-life LifeSiteNews reported a Creole-speaking “woman working undercover” called APROSIFA and asked about obtaining contraceptives. She was told she could get them for free, LifeSite said. LifeSite editor John-Henry Westen told CCN the woman did not lie about her status as a childless, 21-year-old woman, though she did not disclose she was obtaining the information for publication.

It’s the latest in a string of reports by LifeSite that accuse D&P of supporting pro-abortion groups. It began back in 2009 when LifeSite took D&P to task saying it supported pro-abortion groups in Mexico.

APROSIFA is among about 30 D&P partners, including religious orders, providing assistance to Haitians recovering from the massive 2010 earthquake that devastated an already deeply impoverished nation.

“Concerns such as those raised about APROSIFA are taken very seriously by the bishops of Canada and will be addressed through the Standing Committee on Development and Peace,” said CCCB media relations director René Laprise in an e-mail. The joint committee came about after an investigation into the earlier LifeSite allegations.

D&P has collaborated with APROSIFA “in one specific reconstruction and rehabilitation project in a deprived neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince,” Laprise said, and the project also has the support of the local Catholic bishops. An Aug. 22 letter from Port-au-Prince Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Lafontant not only supports the project, describing it as “an important contribution to the reconstruction and rebuilding of a just and equitable civil society,” but also endorsed APROSIFA as a “reliable organization” and praised its co-ordinator, Rose Anne Auguste, as someone who “warrants support and confidence.”

“We fully support the message of the CCCB and work closely with them through the standing committee,” said D&P executive director Michael Casey in an e-mail. “We have nothing to add at this time.”

LifeSite also reported APROSIFA had received a grant from George Soros’ Open Society Institute to publish into Creole the book Where Women Have No Doctor which includes information “on obtaining abortions and contraception.”

“If the Haitian bishops are onside and vouch for this group, then I would support them,” said Calgary Bishop Fred Henry who is a member of the CCCB-D&P standing committee. “The group may not be perfect but they must be doing a lot of good work even if there are a few positions and actions that we will have to challenge them on.”

CCCB president Archbishop Richard Smith and vice president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher were photographed with an APROSIFA representative in December during their solidarity mission to Haiti, accompanied by Casey. But a CCCB spokesman said that although the bishops toured an art exhibit with an executive from APROSIFA, there was no formal meeting between them.

D&P raised $20 million from Canadian Catholics in response to the earthquake.

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