Development and Peace providing aid to farmers in Ethiopia 2015. Photo by Michael Swan

Some funding restored to Development and Peace as investigation continues

  • November 22, 2018
The funding tap is flowing again for Development and Peace, but it remains closed for 52 of 180 partner organizations that continue to be investigated for alleged connections to abortion, artificial conception and other possible conflicts with Catholic teaching.

“We are very sure that it’s not going to find that we have promoted such as thing as abortion,” Romain Duguay, deputy director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, told The Catholic Register. “We are sure we haven’t done anything wrong.”

While the probe by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) continues, D&P — the Canadian arm of Caritas Internationalis — is suspending funding to those partners still under investigation in an effort to gain support from bishops prior to the 2019 lenten fundraising drives.
In October, 10 of the 12 bishops who withheld funds from D&P quietly removed restrictions and forwarded the money. The Archdioceses of Edmonton and Toronto continue to withhold funds and have further 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.

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,” executive director Serge Langlois said in a letter to Development and Peace members on Nov. 16. “And we have placed a temporary moratorium on the financing of the partners in question.”

Since April, Canada’s Catholic aid agency has been working with the CCCB on an ethical audit of its partners operating in poor countries throughout Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. An April CCCB web search of Development and Peace partner organizations raised questions about more than 40 organizations. The concerns were raised at a meeting of the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops and prompted Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith to suspend transfers of lenten donations to D&P. His decision was quickly followed by other bishops, primarily in Western Canada.

Since D&P was established in 1967 it has delivered aid with and through organizations formed by people in their own countries. 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 partner agencies were “imprudent,” it found no specific evidence of wrongdoing. But a follow-up investigation in 2010 looked at 248 files and found 13 it said merited a close look and two that posed a problem.
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 the CCCB secretary general Msgr. Patrick Powers.

After questions emerged again in 2017, D&P worked with CCCB staff to produce a 200-plus page report on its partnerships, which was delivered to the bishops’ conference in Ottawa in August.

The report did not meet the unanimous approval of bishops at the September plenary, Langlois wrote in his Nov. 16 letter to D&P members.

“Regrettably, we understood the request differently than what was seemingly expected, and following the recent bishops’ plenary we were asked to again provide additional analysis, particularly on the criteria we use to select our partners,” Langlois wrote.

Many of the partners on the list of 52 organizations still under investigation are also partnered with other Catholic development agencies throughout Europe, Duguay said. The Caritas Internationalis network is aware of the discussion between Development and Peace and Canada’s bishops, but has no concerns about Development and Peace’s policies or partner choices, he said.

“We respect all the criteria Caritas has,” Duguay said. “It’s not even a question for them.”

Names of the organizations under review in Canada 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 wide-ranging investigation of D&P’s partners 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.

While the investigation continues, with no deadline for its completion, the Catholic Women’s League of Canada is instructing CWL councils across Canada to not collect donations on behalf of D&P, “but instead redirect donations to any of the other national, voluntary funds that support development work, either within Canada or abroad.”

Money already collected by the CWL for D&P and held in trust will be immediately forwarded to D&P, the CWL said in a Nov. 17 press release.

“The national executive believes this is a temporary but necessary measure while the audit continues, so that the CCODP can effectively support communities that strive for justice and peace in the global south,” said the CWL statement.

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