Patrick Craine

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Canadian bishops’ development arm rocked by internal divisions

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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MONTREAL, Nov. 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has been rocked by internal divisions this fall as members chafe over the Canadian bishops’ increasing oversight of their official development agency.

D&P’s Francophone youth wing has launched a boycott of the annual Share Lent campaign and D&P’s Canadian programs director has resigned, alleging that the organization’s identity has been “shaken to its very foundations.”

The internal struggle, described variously as a “crisis” and a “catastrophe,” was sparked by the delay of D&P’s fall education campaign in September after objections from some bishops. But the frustration of D&P members had built up since 2009 as the bishops responded to revelations that the agency had been funding dozens of organizations in the Third World that advocate for the decriminalization of abortion. The struggle also comes amidst increased pressure as the organization grapples with a 65% funding cut from the Canadian government, which was announced in March.

On September 5th, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops took the unprecedented step of intervening in the traditional fall campaign after several bishops complained it was too politically-focused, reportedly refusing to allow the materials in their parishes. Now underway in a modified form, the campaign targets the federal government’s decision to cut funding to foreign aid groups.

Much of the criticism from D&P membership has been leveled against the organization’s leadership, particularly the National Council and executive director Michael Casey. Members claim Casey and the Council have focused too much on appeasing the bishops at the expense of D&P’s member-focused, democratic character.

The French-language Radio-Canada profiled D&P’s internal crisis in a 13-minute documentary on Nov. 4th, highlighting the so-called “virulent attacks” levied against it by LifeSiteNews and the SoCon or Bust blog.

After learning of the delay of the fall campaign, D&P’s national Francophone youth wing announced in October they were launching an “internal campaign” to restore D&P’s democratic governance by boycotting the fall campaign and the Share Lent fundraising drive.

“We have shed tears together and shared our pain and anger as a result of the decision made by the leaders of this movement to cancel the original advocacy portion of the 2012 fall campaign,” they wrote in an official declaration Oct. 16th, published on the We Are a Movement blog. “This decision attacks the very heart of the mission of our organisation and it is this mission which unites us.”

“The decision made by our leaders undermines the credibility of our movement and renders it almost impossible to recruit new members or to retain active members in our local youth groups,” they added.

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On Oct. 18, D&P’s In-Canada Program Director, Claire Doran, announced her resignation, saying the “abrupt cancellation” of the fall campaign was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“Faced with these pressures on our organization, I can only note that the fundamental values of Development and Peace seem to have collapsed within its leadership,” wrote Doran, a member of D&P’s management team. “An exclusive concern for the survival of the institution is bringing the leadership of Development and Peace to eviscerate the mission of our organization.”

“This situation has existed for some years but is now deteriorating rapidly,” she continued. “Already in 2011, Development and Peace abruptly cut its support to a Mexican human rights organization – the highly respected Center PRO. Subsequently, it would be the entire program of human rights in Mexico that would disappear.”

D&P was forced to cancel its longstanding relationship with Center PRO after Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa cancelled a talk at his diocesan centre by the group’s former executive director Fr. Luis Arriaga. The Jesuit priest had refused to sign a statement assuring his belief in the right to life of the unborn, reportedly on the basis that such a stand would be a “violation of basic human rights.”

D&P’s national president Ronald Breau responded to concerns over the fall campaign’s delay in a joint statement with CCCB President Archbishop Richard Smith on Nov. 5th.

“You are aware that changes have been made to the campaign material,” they wrote. “Speculation in the media and among some of the membership as to the reasons for the changes has caused considerable anxiety for many. We want to assure you there is no cause for worry.”

“The reason for the change was simple. In a meeting of the CCCB President and General Secretary with the President and Executive Director of Development and Peace, concern was expressed that elements of the original materials could be a source of division among Bishops, priests, parishioners and donors,” they continue. “Lack of unity compromises our Christian witness to justice and charity. These concerns were taken very seriously, and Development and Peace decided to revise its campaign literature.”

The general reaction from D&P members to the statement is unclear, but it was quickly denounced by Richard Beaucher, president of D&P’s Diocesan Council in Sherbrooke.

“This joint declaration is disappointing; it is empty, soporific and partially mendacious with respect to the sequence of events, the reasons invoked and the surrounding context, according to witnesses on the ground,” he wrote.

After LifeSiteNews began reporting on D&P’s problematic funding relationships in 2009, the Canadian bishops launched a renewal of the organization, but D&P’s leadership remained intact and they have since refused to release a full list of partners.

In March, LifeSiteNews reported that D&P is funding a Haitian woman’s group, named APROSIFA, that openly hands out free contraceptives and has produced literature on how to obtain abortions. Then in September, LifeSiteNews revealed that D&P is funding the NGO Forum on Cambodia, which has called for greater access to “safe abortion” and recognition of “reproductive rights.” Both groups are still highlighted on D&P’s website.


Contact Information:

Important: see Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.

Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786
E-mail: apostolic.nunciature@rogers.com

Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton
CCCB President
8421-101 Avenue
Edmonton (AB) T6A 0L1
Tel: (780) 469-1010
Fax: (780) 465-3003
E-mail: rstrauss@caedm.ca

To contact any Canadian bishop, find contact information here.

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DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

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By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

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According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that if it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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