CIDSE backs D&P over abortion allegations

By 
  • October 8, 2009
{mosimage}Internet-based allegations that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace financed partners who have lobbied in favour of legalized abortion are a non-issue, the general secretary of the world-wide alliance of Catholic development agencies told The Catholic Register.

None of the Catholic development agencies in Europe — many of whom work with some of the same partner organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia as Development and Peace — has been accused of collaborating with organizations that support legalized abortion, said CIDSE general secretary Bernd Nilles in a phone interview from Montreal.

“No one is working with partner organizations that support abortion — no one,” Nilles said. “I don’t see any problem.”

Contrary to portrayals of Catholic development agencies as rogue organizations with little regard for Catholic teaching, CIDSE agencies feel the most recent papal encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, has ratified their position in the church and their basic approach to global economic justice, Nilles said.

“We are very happy that the Holy Father takes the encyclical Populorum Progressio and that Catholic social teaching is highlighted as an important framework for our work,” he said. “We are not only there for charity, but for justice — to create a world that is more just.”

An alliance of 16 Catholic development agencies in Europe and North America, CIDSE is the largest grouping of development agencies in the world.

CIDSE will be out in full force at the G20 meeting in Muskoka next year, said Nilles. It will be the first full G20 meeting of first ministers and presidents since the expanded group took over responsibility for global co-ordination on economic affairs from the G8.

While CIDSE would rather see policies that matter to poor countries debated at the United Nations, CIDSE has long been involved in lobbying the G8 and welcomes the opportunity take up economic justice issues with the expanded group.

But inclusion of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil does not necessarily mean the poor of the global south have a voice at the table, warned Nilles.

“We have to be careful of these governments and their decisions. That’s why we lobby these governments,” he said.

Balancing the G20 debate will depend on giving a legitimate role to non-governmental organizations, according to CIDSE.

“There is no process so far at all for civil society involvement. It is absolutely missing,” said Nilles. “We call on governments to offer this space. That’s key.”

Given that Canada will host next year’s meeting, it will largely come down to Canada to set the pattern for listening to outside voices.

CIDSE’s goals for the Muskoka G20 meeting include progress on climate change, World Bank and International Monetary Fund reform and food security.

Nilles is highly critical of Canada’s role in climate change talks at the United Nations.

“Why is such a rich country not able to make a clear offer on the climate negotiation?” he asked.

Canada’s unique reliance on 2006 benchmarks rather than the generally accepted 1990 starting point for greenhouse gas reductions is clouding the issue, said Nilles.

CIDSE has organized an international petition on climate change on its web site, www.CIDSE.org, under the heading “Create a climate for justice.” The CIDSE-Caritas petition will be presented at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

(With files from Deborah Gyapong.)

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