Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Register file photo

Toronto releases funds to Development and Peace

  • December 21, 2018

With $800,000 from Toronto in their bank account, Canada’s Catholic development agency is looking forward to settling all outstanding questions about whether 52 of its 180 partners are out of step with Catholic teaching before it begins its fund-raising campaign in March.

The Archdiocese of Toronto became the last diocese in Canada to announce it had released funds raised during its 2018 ShareLife campaign. Toronto has forwarded $800,000 to Development and Peace — exactly the same amount awarded to the organization from the 2017 collections. 

Toronto continues to await further findings from the joint Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Development and Peace review of partners and partnership policies, said an update from Cardinal Thomas Collins.

A dozen dioceses across Canada had been witholding D&P funds since February when concerns about its partners came to light during an assembly of Western and Northern bishops. The CCCB launched its review in April.

Since 2009 the Archdiocese of Toronto has required letters of endorsement from local bishops or from bishops’ conferences to assure charitable dollars raised in Toronto parishes will not go to organizations that publicly differ with official Church teaching on abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage and similar issues.

“Following this protocol, ShareLife will release the 2018 allocation of $800,000 to CCODP (Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace),” said Collins’ update.

Representatives from the CCCB and Development and Peace will meet early in January — well before D&P begins its 2019 fund-raising campaign on March 6 — to further discuss 52 partners identified as possibly problematic and discuss how the Canadian agency chooses and monitors its partners, Development and Peace deputy executive director Romain Duguay told The Catholic Register.

“There’s a sense of urgency from both sides,” Duguay said. “So we’re very happy that we’re talking again, and we will keep talking. We will come up with a solution before March, hopefully before Share Lent.”

The CCCB would not commit to any timeline for wrapping up the review, which has been ongoing since April.

“The review will continue until such time that a thorough and detailed examination is complete,” said CCCB spokesperson Lisa Gall in an e-mail.

CCCB president Bishop Lionel Gendron has sent the traditional letter green-lighting Development and Peace’s 2019 Share Lent campaign. 

The Canadian Religious Conference, representing religious priests, nuns and brothers across the country, have added their endorsement of D&P.

“We hope that despite the current difficulties, D&P can continue its very important work of supporting the poor and marginalized throughout the world with the full support of the Catholic community,” the CRC said in a statement to its members.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are warning that purity tests imposed from Canada on distant organizations in poor countries on the basis of Google searches are unwise. 

In a letter to Development and Peace, OMI Lacombe Province superior Fr. Ken Forster said that launching an investigation “without the knowledge and involvement of Development and Peace or these partner organizations … seems very irregular and will probably not produce any results.”

Forster told The Catholic Register he found the nature of the investigation “unfortunate.”

“If we say that we only financially support any institution that is completely living the Gospel message, and we have no room to wait and try to speak and concern ourselves with conversion, then it’s a dangerous precedent,” Forster said. “We need to realize that we are all living in a grey area.”

The OMI position is based on the missionary’s experience in Latin America, Africa, Asia and elsewhere, Forster said. 

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