Development and Peace faces new abortion-funding allegations from Peru

By 
  • June 12, 2009
{mosimage}A Peruvian archbishop is accusing the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace of supporting pro-abortion groups in his country.

In a letter dated May 28 but not sent until June 9, Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren Anselmi, president of the Peruvian Conference of Catholic Bishops' Commission on the Family, Children and Life, tells Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' president Archbishop James Weisgerber he is "personally concerned about any funding from Catholics of Canada to pro-abortion groups in Peru."

It's the latest turn in a controversy that began in February when LifeSiteNews.com accused Development and Peace of funding pro-abortion advocacy in Mexico.  

According to Egurin, three Development and Peace-funded groups are "very committed with the pro-abortion movement here in Peru."

The groups are:

  • Co-ordinadora Nacional de Radio, an organization that supports small, independent and mostly rural radio broadcasters;

  • Groupe Reseau d'economie solidaire au Perou, also known as Grupo Red and GRESP, an organization that promotes labour unions and co-operatives; and

  • Federacion de las mujeres organizada en centrales de cocinas populares, an agency that helps poor women set up co-operative, open kitchens and educates them about nutrition and health.

Development and Peace has had no reason to suspect these organizations are in any way involved in the abortion debate in Peru, executive director Michael Casey said. Casey said his staff in Montreal takes Eguren's allegations seriously and is investigating.

A member of the staff of Peruvian bishops' Commission on the Family, Children and Life told The Western Catholic Reporter Co-ordinadora Nacional de Radio has sponsored a radio contest which encourages women to tell their abortion stories and find new ways to exercise abortion rights.

“I imagine these groups are deceiving those responsible to disburse the funds of the Canadian church (namely Development and Peace),” Carlos Polo told the Edmonton-based newspaper. “And we believe it is our obligation as Catholics to inform our brothers in Canada so that they are not deceived (any more).”

Polo said the commission is certain the Canadian bishops have no idea of what’s going on.

“But now that they have been informed, logically they are going to put a stop to this.”

Abortion is legal in Peru if it is necessary to protect a woman's life or her physical or mental health. It is illegal in cases of rape, where fetal defects have been detected or for any other reason.

Debate is raging through much of Latin America about liberalizing abortion laws or bringing the laws into line with actual practice.

Development and Peace may have to live another four or five months under the cloud of accusations. Weisgerber told The Catholic Register he did not expect Canada's bishops to make any definitive statement about the imbroglio over Development and Peace funding policies until after a gathering of all the bishops in October.

A team of Canadian bishops and advisors travelled to Mexico in April to investigate the LifeSiteNews.com reports.

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