Padre Melo

Development and Peace reconciles with two exiled partners

  • May 7, 2021

Two of Development and Peace’s 24 exiled partners have been welcomed back by Canada’s Catholic development and aid organization and the remaining 22 may re-apply once the organization finalizes a new partnership policy in the coming weeks.

“Two partners were cleared in early March,” Development and Peace deputy executive director Romain Duguay told The Catholic Register in an e-mail. “Also, the remaining 22 are not monolithic. Each one of them is different and unique. If they have projects that they want to work with us on, they are free to approach us for funding and support.”

Lines of communication with those partners cut at the end of a three-year review of 205 partner organizations for “conflict with the Church’s social and moral teachings” have remained open, Duguay said.

“I believe that the 22 remaining partners, with whom we have not stopped conversing, have a pathway back onto our rosters,” he said. “We have communicated it clearly that all partners can come back once we make a few changes to our partnership criteria, processes and policies. Those changes are already underway and should be fully implemented in the coming weeks.”

The names of the discontinued partners have been kept secret under an agreement between the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada.

Duguay brushed aside any concern that the organization may no longer have the financial capacity to support more partners. Development and Peace’s budget has shrunk while some bishops have withheld and cut funding. Social media campaigners have amplified the review process to raise doubts about the Catholic bona fides of Canada’s official Caritas agency and the COVID-19 crisis has squeezed traditional fundraising.

“Supporting partners has been, is and will remain our mission,” Duguay said. “We will find ways to raise more money. I am confident and optimistic that we can do it.”

Duguay defended the partnership review process that drew an angry response from some of its partners and prompted the Canadian Religious Conference and Canada’s Jesuit fathers to demand answers about what prompted and drove the long review process.

“The partnership review process was not at all unfair,” Duguay said. “Development and Peace was simply asking questions.”

However, Jesuit Fr. Ismael Moreno, known as Padre Melo and director of long-time Development and Peace partners Radio Progresso and Fundacion ERIC, did not believe enquiries sent jointly from Development and Peace and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops were mere questions.

“It is clear that this is not a letter of solidarity with our work,” Melo wrote in a public response to Development and Peace questions in July 2019. “Nor less merciful than the various and constant threats, including death, to members of our team for defending human rights, and especially environmental rights cruelly threatened by mining companies, transnationals from Canada.”

In Haiti, Famn Deside director Marie Ange Noel was flabbergasted by a second request for further clarification after she had written in a previous response to Development and Peace-CCCB questions, “Fanm Deside has never supported nor encouraged any practice of abortion.”

“We do not understand why such a clear and precise response continues to raise ‘concerns,’ ” she wrote in a letter to Canada’s bishops and Development and Peace executive director Serge Langlois.

The request for clarifications came after Famn Deside presented endorsements from two Haitian bishops.

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