Development and Peace works on protocols for distribution of funds 

By 
  • July 30, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Getting individual bishops or bishops' conferences to sign off on more than $16 million worth of projects is complicated, but Canada's Catholic development agency is willing to get those signatures and reassure the bishops it's working with the church when it chooses partners.

"The good news is that we're dialoguing on this," said Michael Casey, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. "They've expressed their support for Development and Peace."

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and the ShareLife allocations committee set aside $1.125 million for D&P this year. The money will be released to the organization on a project-by-project basis only when it obtains a bishop's endorsement of the partner organization running the project in the host country.

The new Toronto approval policy comes in the wake of LifeSiteNews.com allegations that D&P has funded organizations that lobby for legalized abortion in their countries.

Nationally, Development and Peace took in about $10 million in this year's Lenten fundraising campaign, down slightly but comparable to the $10 million-plus collections of the last three years, said D&P spokesperson Jasmine Fortin. Final numbers have yet to be confirmed, but a slight decrease was to be expected given the recession, Fortin said.

Both ShareLife executive director Arthur Peters and Casey said they don't yet know how the new system of approvals will work. Meetings are scheduled this month to work out the details.

LifeSite agrees with approval process for D&P funds

Written by Catholic Register Staff

TORONTO - An extra bureaucratic step in approving funding for Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace partners is a wise solution to the controversy over who gets its money, said John Henry Westen.

"This was done in a way that was incredibly wise — a way to go forward," said Westen, LifeSiteNews.com founding editor. "This is a way of going forward that involves working together with the bishops in other countries."

Westen doesn't believe another level of approvals will be burdensome.

"The current arrangement, where groups can receive funding when they are opposed by their local bishop and do themselves oppose the local bishops' conference on various measures — like the right to life and/or contraception — that to me is more unwieldy than anything else," he said.

Westen said he has been encouraged by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' response to a LifeSite offer to make a presentation to bishops reprising its allegations concerning D&P funds going to organizations that advocate for legal abortion and contraception.

"We've been trying from the beginning to be in dialogue with the bishops of Canada," he said.

CCCB general secretary Msgr. Mario Paquette turned down LifeSite's offer to give a 15-minute presentation to the bishops' plenary assembly in October, saying the agenda was already set. But Paquette did say the bishops' executive committee would be discussing the issue in September.

Westen wanted to be sure the bishops understood LifeSite's reports and the reasons for launching its investigation.

"Most of the bishops have not probably read the things we have pointed out," he said.

In publishing, just as D&P's annual fundraising campaign began, reports that five of the organization's partners in Mexico endorsed an omnibus summary of human rights issues for a United Nations review which included a call for legal abortion in the first trimester nationally, LifeSite was not out to get D&P, said Westen.

"This was never done, as was suggested by many, as a way of attacking anyone," he said. "There has been a lot of vilification of LifeSiteNews, and looking at the news service as some kind of attack dog or on a particular agenda. People have said we're a right wing group with an agenda to bring down left wing groups. It's simply not the case. We're a pro-life news service."

ShareLife currently administers the archdiocese of Toronto's Pastoral Mission Fund, which requires a letter from the local bishop before it approves funding for evangelization projects in a range of poor countries. Last year the fund sponsored 384 projects in 28 countries.

Casey believes a comparable system for D&P can be ready to go before the executive committee of the Canadian bishops meets in September.

"We are fully appreciative of the position of the archdiocese, particularly given the historical roots of ShareLife and the concerns of the archbishop," Casey said.

It's too early to say whether the Toronto protocols will eventually be applied nationwide and in future years, said Casey.

"That's something that has to be seen in discussion with the bishops," he said.

The board of D&P has struck a working committee to look at all the issues arising from the LifeSite allegations. That work should be completed before the bishops' September meeting and the plenary meeting of all Canada's bishops in October, Casey said.

While D&P is a member of Caritas Internationalis, the Rome-based humanitarian organization with close ties to the Vatican, and CIDSE, the Brussels-based organization for Catholic development agencies, accommodating new concerns about its co-operation with local churches in poor countries that receive aid will add another level of assurance D&P remains Catholic in its aims and its structure, said Casey.

"It's a departure from our standard operating procedure of 42 years," he said. "We just have to reinforce the awareness that we are a Catholic agency working according to the values and teaching of the Catholic Church — always have and always will."

At the same time Casey is looking for ways to expand its 13,000-strong membership base, especially in Toronto.

"There's huge opportunity for growth there. We're still fairly limited given the archdiocese's huge size," he said, especially withToronto's large immigrant population.

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