Bishops join team investigating Development and Peace

  • April 14, 2009

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Two bishops from eastern Canada will lead an inquiry into allegations that funds from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace have gone to Mexican groups that have ties to abortion advocacy.

Archbishop Martin W. Currie of St. John’s, Nfld., and Bishop François Lapierre, P.M.É., of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., were to go to Mexico April 15-18 to meet with local bishops, announced the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Canadian bishops will be joined by senior staff from Development and Peace and by Msgr. Carlos Quintana from the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Priests for Life Canada, however, is calling for an independent “lay Catholic” investigation of  Development and Peace practices “to assure complete professionalism and impartiality, and in an open and transparent manner so as to restore confidence in the development initiatives of the Canadian bishops.”

The bishops will investigate allegations that five groups that received funding from Development and Peace have been supportive of abortion. Funding to the five groups is currently suspended.

“There has been a lot of confusion sown in the minds of Canadian Catholics,” said a statement from Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, president of the CCCB. “It is now important to provide answers that respond to the important questions that have been raised.”

In addition to investigating the specific allegations, Weisgerber said the inquiry would also review how Development and Peace approaches its work with its partners in the Global South. A report on findings and recommendations will go to the bishops’ Permanent Council.

But Priests for Life National Director Fr. Thomas Lynch believes the investigation should be handed over to an outside agency. In an interview April 5, Lynch said he has followed various web site links on Internet reports and some links indicate that funds from Development and Peace have gone to groups that publicly advocate “reproductive rights,” which is “code for abortion.”

“This is bad news,” he said.

He asked if Development and Peace was exercising due diligence in making sure its partners weren’t advocating changes in abortion laws.

“The funds gathered are assumed to be used for development purposes which are fully in line with church teaching,” said Lynch’s statement.

He said funds should be withheld not only from groups that actively contravene church teaching, but also from lobby groups that support causes opposed to church teaching.

(With files from Deborah Gyapong.)

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