OTTAWA, April 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s Newfoundland has said that a report that exonerated several pro-abortion groups funded by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) and that slammed LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), was actually written by D&P along with the then-General Secretary of the Bishops conference, Mario Paquette. 

Archbishop Currie, one of the two Canadian bishops who traveled to Mexico in 2009 with D&P representatives to investigate the groups in question, and whose signature appears on the official report of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), made the comments in a telephone interview with LifeSiteNews.com Wednesday.

The CCCB report had cleared the five D&P partners first identified by LSN as being pro-abortion, stating “we believe the allegations by Lifesite News … are not founded on the facts.” 

In a strong rebuke of LSN, the report, stated: “We are convinced that when a group makes allegations, accusations and denunciations against another, this can bring nothing positive to our Church and is a counter-witness to that Gospel spirit that should guide all Christians. Negative actions of this kind encourage suspicion, scandal and division in the Church.”

When asked about these charges in the report, Archbishop Currie stated, “Well, I didn’t say that.”  When informed that those were quotes from the CCCB report that contained his signature, the archbishop indicated that the report was written by D&P and the CCCB General Secretary, adding, “I wouldn’t use that kind of language myself, you know.”

“I came back to Newfoundland and the report was being prepared at the office of Development & Peace, and I think by the CCCB by Mario Paquette,” said Archbishop Currie. “By Mario Paquette and by Michael Casey and them.  I did not know anything about how the report was prepared.  All I know, I went down there and I was a part of the delegation – LaPierre and myself.”

Archbishop Currie was asked about the CCCB report in light of Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast’s recent finding that one of the five groups exonerated by the 2009 CCCB report was in fact acting contrary to the Catholic Church by its “support of abortion rights in Mexico.”

For himself, Archbishop Currie said he believed Archbishop Prendergast “made the right decision” in deciding to cancel the speaking engagements of Fr. Luis Arriaga, the head of the D&P-funded group in Mexico found to be supportive of abortion.

Archbishop Currie acknowledged that LifeSiteNews’ investigation may well have been more accurate than that of his delegation. “With LifeSite, perhaps they would dig a lot deeper ... and make connections which perhaps we didn’t make because we don’t have that kind of access or time.”

In the end however, Archbishop Currie said he took responsibility for the document, saying, “Since the report has my name to it, given the information that we had at that time I will stand by the report and its content.”

The CCCB report was ultimately used by many as the smoking gun to “prove” that LSN had incorrectly reported that the groups in question were pro-abortion. The news of the official findings of the bishops’ investigation were published in most Catholic parishes in the country and also went international through Zenit News Agency.  Despite additional findings that numerous other D&P partners are pro-abortion, the CCCB report has never been corrected or withdrawn.

Prior to the 2009 bishops’ investigation, both Priests for Life Canada and the Catholic Register, the largest Catholic newspaper in Canada, with its offices in the chancery office building of the Archdiocese of Toronto, had stressed the need for an independent and open investigation. 

In a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church at the time, Priests for Life Canada “strongly” urged that the pending “investigation be carried out by outside lay Catholics so as 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.”

In a lead editorial, the Catholic Register called the then-pending investigation “critical” and stressed that “credibility demands that it be thorough, expeditious and transparent - and the final report should be public.”

The 2009 Catholic Register editorial added presciently: “But how realistic is it to expect an investigative team that includes several senior staff from Development and Peace to censure itself?”

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Development and Peace scandal.