Development and Peace fine tunes its funding protocols

By 
  • November 17, 2010

Development and PeaceOTTAWA - The Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has announced changes to its funding protocols to ensure that no money goes to organizations that support abortion.

The changes come in the wake of year-old allegations that funds from CCODP had in many cases been funnelled to partners who were not adhering to Catholic teaching on life issues.



The CCODP had consistently denied it was funding partners who support abortion. An investigation in 2009 by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that, while some CCODP partners were “imprudent,”  there was no specific evidence of wrongdoing by the CCODP.

However, over the past year an ad-hoc committee established by the bishops to study the mandate and principles of CCODP uncovered 13 files that merited a closer look and two that posed a problem, said bishops’ conference secretary general Msgr. Patrick Powers. Powers said the committee examined all 248 of CCODP’s project files

As a result of the finding by the ad hoc committee, the CCODP is now developing an “exit strategy” to cancel “any controversial projects.”  

CCODP executive director Michael Casey said many of the problems resulted from partners being involved in coalitions or with other groups “one or two removed” that pursued agenda’s contrary to Catholic teaching. Some of the problems came in ambiguity around human rights issues, he said.  

Catholics can be confident that money they contribute “will be properly spent and properly supervised,” said Powers. He said the  committee produced “substantive results” and “brought everyone together.”

“Even one (flawed partnership) is too many,” Powers said, noting that CCODP is rewriting the “manner in which people become partners.” Some controversial projects that had been previously identified online had already come to a natural end, he added.

“CCODP is preparing protocols to ensure that organizations requesting future funding are fully aware that CCODP is a Catholic agency which adheres to Catholic principles,” said the committee’s report.

“Furthermore, any organizations requesting funding will also be obliged by the same protocols to disclose any projects that they may be involved in which would contradict Catholic principles of respect for life.”

CCODP will also consult with the local bishops’ conference which must approve of partners and projects in their countries.

“We wanted to make sure we have explicitly outlined in the rule of engagement that the Catholic identity issue for us is paramount,” Casey said.

Most of CCODP’s protocols had been focused on sound fiscal management and accountability, he said.

Powers said the committee addressed the gap that had developed over the years between CCODP and the bishops’ conference as the two “worked more and more in their own way, apart from each other.”

It also advised a permanent standing committee be established to allow for a “regular exchange of information.”  

The members of this new committee will be named in December.

CCODP is preparing a new five-year plan and a new funding proposal for CIDA, Casey said. “We have to look at some of the advocacy positions of some of our partners.”

Partnerships are long-term, but CCODP plans to rationalize and reduce the number of projects from nearly 250 to 130-150, he said. CIDA is stressing aid effectiveness and accountability, and “we’re bringing it in house as well.”

“We’ll have fewer but larger, more complex projects,” said Casey.

But the focus will still be on effecting “meaningful change” in the developing world and addressing social inequities, he said.  

“We’re the social justice guys of the Catholic Church.”

 

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