KAIROS takes a funding hit

By  Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News
  • November 9, 2006
 OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace are cutting their combined contribution to KAIROS by approximately $75,000 next year.

"It's always difficult when the members have to cut," said KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery. "We have been reassured by the bishops and by Development and Peace that (the cut) doesn't reflect a lack of commitment to KAIROS."

KAIROS is a multi-faith ecumenical justice organization.

In 2007, the CCCB will contribute $200,000 to KAIROS, down from $233,000 this year. Development and Peace, as a separate member organization, will reduce its contribution to $65,000 for 2007. In 2006, their combined donations have amounted to $339,000, Corkery said. The CCCB contributed $283,000 in 2004.

Though Corkery said the shortfall in funding has been made up through fund-raising efforts that have brought in new non-religious partners such as unions and secular foundations, she says the Christian underpinning for the organization is crucial.

"It's very important to KAIROS that we remain of the churches," she said. "That is what makes us different and distinct from other organizations that are working for justice."

She said KAIROS brings the Christian faith into the public sphere and it makes a difference that it is an organization of Christian churches working together. KAIROS represents seven faith groups, including the CCCB, the Anglican Church, the United Church and faith-based member organizations like Development and Peace and the Canadian Religious Conference.

"Many of the people involved in the ecumenical movement are saying there has been a loss of momentum," Corkery said. "It's hard to know about that. It's very important that KAIROS is one of the places where churches are working together."

At the recent CCCB plenary in Cornwall, Ont., Oct. 15-20, several bishops expressed dismay over cutbacks to KAIROS, including Gatineau Archbishop Roger Ébacher who heads the bishops' Social Affairs Committee, and St. George's Bishop Douglas Crosby.

CCCB Associate General Secretary Benoit Bariteau said the bishops' comments at the plenary reflect the ongoing concern the bishops have for KAIROS.

"The commitment of the bishops on social justice issues remains the same, but we have the resources we have," Bariteau said. "The bishops chose to cut not only KAIROS, but cut almost $1 million from their own budget in 2005."

Bariteau notes that the conference's contribution to KAIROS is the biggest grant it makes to outside groups.

"The main favour in the reflections the bishops are making now on their programs and activities is not to get off or reduce their commitment to KAIROS, but to see how we can work better with KAIROS and other groups that work on social justice issues so the mission of the Catholic Church will remain in social justice," he said.

The bishops have placed Bariteau on the KAIROS board as a way of placing someone "who is at the heart of the CCCB" into a decision-making role at KAIROS. Bariteau pointed out that not only does the CCCB contribute monetarily, but has also contributed staff time and other similar resources.

Development and Peace executive director Michael Casey says some of the confusion about CCCB funding may stem from the fact that Development and Peace turns over a proportion of the monies it receives from the annual Share Lent campaign to the bishops' Social Justice Fund.

"Even in KAIROS circles it's called the Development and Peace money," Casey said.

Bariteau said that 100 per cent of the CCCB's Social Justice Fund is going to KAIROS. 

Development and Peace makes its own contribution to KAIROS as a member organization, independent of the CCCB. Casey said that Development and Peace had to reduce all its expenses across the board by about 22.5 per cent. It reduced contributions to KAIROS and the CCCB's Social Justice Fund accordingly.

KAIROS has recently signed an agreement with CIDA that will bring in $5 million in funding over the next three years, Corkery said. The money will allow KAIROS to bring its international partners to Canada more frequently and allow for an increase in educational work in Canada. It also gives the organization the ability to respond immediately to major political change, especially where there might be significant human rights abuses.

Corkery said unions have become attracted to work KAIROS is doing on behalf of the 200,000 or more migrant workers in Canada.


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