Bishops establish ad hoc committee to help D&P review mandate

  • December 7, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA - An ad hoc committee of four bishops has been named to help the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in a renewal process.

“The focus of the committee is to help Development and Peace to review its mandate and to see how they can adjust to the last encyclical letter of the Pope, Caritas in Veritate,” said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Bishop Pierre Morissette Dec. 3. “We think that there is a lot of very helpful insight in this letter for Development and Peace.”

Morissette said he hoped the committee would be active very soon. It includes Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, Rimouski Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier, Sherbrooke Archbishop Andre Gaumond and Toronto Auxiliary Bishop John Boissonneau.

The committee is a response to recommendations of an inquiry a bishops’ delegation made last June into Internet-based allegations that D&P was funding projects through Mexican partners who were “pro-abortion.” Though the inquiry report found no evidence any partners were directly involved in abortion, it did recommend more prudence on the part of D&P. Morissette acknowledged online reports also made allegations against the development agency’s partners in Central and Latin America, Asia, Africa and elsewhere.

D&P executive director Michael Casey said the new committee will be the bishops’ “accompanying body” in a process of “institutional reflection and renewal” that is already taking place.

Casey also stressed the importance of Caritas in Veritate in the renewal of D&P, which was founded 40 years ago in response to Pope Paul VI’s social justice encyclical Populorum Progressio.

“I think this is going to be a really interesting reflection jointly undertaken,” he said, noting that it was normal after 40 years of doing things a certain way to do this kind of examination. “We are really happy to have the support of the bishops on this by this committee and they’re going to be engaged actively in this organizational reflection.”

Canada's bishops are also trying to improve its government relations and communications strategy.

“We hope that we can establish new ways of relating to the federal government and eventually to have some meeting with the cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister or his office to discuss some of the problems that we have in Canadian society about which we have something to say,” said Morissette.

Morissette is the ex officio chair of a brand new standing committee on government relations that includes Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte and Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins as well as former Liberal MP Dennis Mills and former Progressive Conservative MP Benoit Bouchard. This committee held its first meeting Dec. 3.

The bishops have also established a new communications standing committee that is chaired by the CCCB’s new vice president Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. It held its first meeting on Dec. 4.

“We feel that we have something to do with our communications,” said Morissette. “It was a weakness with the conference and we hope that we can improve things.”

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