Archdiocese of Toronto puts leash on Development and Peace funding

  • July 23, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - In response to controversy over the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace partners in Mexico, the archdiocese of Toronto is putting D&P on a funding leash and calling for a comprehensive review of the Catholic aid organization.

Archbishop Thomas Collins announced in a July 23 statement that the archdiocese will “set aside” $1.125 million this year from ShareLife to be available to D&P on a case-by-case basis solely for projects run by organizations that are endorsed by local bishops. That is the same amount as 2008, but last year’s funds were allocated directly to D&P’s general revenues to be dispersed as they saw fit.  

In requiring that D&P partner solely with organizations that have local church approval, the archdiocese money will only be released when a specific project is rubber stamped. Any funds not spent at year end will be re-allocated to the Pastoral Mission Fund.

This new funding procedure only affects money given from the archdiocese of Toronto, not from any other dioceses in Canada.

Collins affirmed his “resolute support” for the mission of D&P, but also said that future funding will depend on an assessment “of the degree to which the issues that concern us have been resolved.”

In March, D&P faced allegations of operating with partners in Mexico and other countries that had ties to groups that supported abortion. A subsequent investigation by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that D&P’s Mexican partners were imprudent in signing a report that, among many recommendations, endorsed abortion, but otherwise the bishops’ report exonerated D&P. The bishops, however, did not investigate several similar allegations related to D&P partners in other countries.

The statement by Collins did not address the bishops’ report but it referred to “legitimate questions” that have been raised about how D&P funds its projects. Collins called for a comprehensive review of D&P that looks at its mandate, governance, organization structure, policies and protocols related to project funding, and communication between D&P and Catholic bishops.

“A thorough review, if it is acted on, can be the foundation for a renewal and strengthening of Development and Peace,” the statement said. “That is what we all want.”

Collins suggested D&P support for foreign projects should be governed by two principles. First, rather than just examining the suitability of each project, the organizations that operate the project should be “in harmony with the principles of our Catholic faith.” If they aren’t, “then there are plenty other worthy projects.”

Second, natural courtesy and church structure dictates that D&P always act in concert with local bishops, who can vouch that foreign partners are in concert with church teaching. “Projects which we fund need to be in some way approved by the local bishop or the bishops’ conference,” the statement said.

Approval of local bishops is currently a prerequisite to qualify for funding from the Pastoral Mission Fund, which supports almost 400 projects in 28 countries. Collins announced that the Pastoral Mission Fund will receive $1.325 million in 2009, the same amount as last year.

In the archdiocese of Toronto, the Pastoral Mission Fund and D&P are both funded through allocations from the annual ShareLife appeal. ShareLife was established in 1976 to ensure that Catholic donations went exclusively to organizations that support the sanctity of life. Collins has consistently stated that the founding principle will not be compromised.

“Funds raised through ShareLife must always be used in a way that respects the principle upon which ShareLife was founded,” he said.

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