SAINTE-ADELE, Quebec, September 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - For the second year in a row, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has rejected LifeSiteNews’ request for media accreditation to the “public” sessions of the bishops’ annual plenary assembly.
CCCB communications director Rene Laprise informed LifeSiteNews Sept. 12th that its application (filed August 10) had been rejected again. “After having verified with the authorities of the Conference, I wish to inform you that your request has been denied and that you will not be granted access to this year’s meeting,” wrote Laprise.
In an interview Monday, he said the reason access was denied was the same as last year. “It’s the purpose of the CCCB to accept or refuse media credentials, and like last year LifeSiteNews was not allowed to be at the plenary, so the decision was the same for this year,” he said. The stated reason for the rejection last year, was “serious concerns over the manner in which positions have been taken by your organization.”
After having attended and reported on a few previous years’ CCCB annual plenaries, LifeSiteNews editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen was asked to leave the 2011 meeting immediately after the opening Mass. Westen, who had driven five hours to attend the event, respectfully questioned the decision, but complied with the request to leave the premises. An e-mail sent by the CCCB rejecting the LifeSiteNews application for accreditation was lost in cyberspace.
Asked Monday why LifeSiteNews might be treated differently than, for example, secular outlets that often aggressively oppose the Church, such as the Toronto Star, Laprise said, “It’s a decision based on each media who signs the media credential form. It’s not a fact of secular media instead of religious media.”
“We’re sorry it’s come to this again this year. We’ve been open and willing to have dialogue for a long time,” said Westen. “We’ve never wanted to defame or castigate, but rather to assist the Church in fulfilling its true social justice mission. As the Pope says, ‘Openness to life is at the centre of true development.’”
In 2009, the CCCB had made an “urgent appeal” for a “frank and transparent dialogue” with LifeSiteNews after the news agency broke the scandal of Development & Peace’s partnerships with numerous pro-abortion groups in the Third World. In response to the bishops’ “appeal”, LifeSiteNews made four separate requests to meet with the Ontario and National bishops’ conferences and officials, but was turned down each time.
The current members of the CCCB’s executive are: Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, President; Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau, Vice-President; Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Co-Treasurer; and Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Co-Treasurer.
LifeSiteNews’ presence at the plenary had been important in past years because it allowed the agency to report several key pro-life developments that otherwise risked going unreported.
In particular, LifeSiteNews was able to report on the courageous stand taken by Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa when they broke protocol at the 2009 plenary to rise and demand that D&P not proceed with “business as usual” after the funding scandal broke earlier that year.
Also, in 2009, LSN staff were able to talk to a few bishops regarding the Development and Peace situation. One such interview was with Martin W. Currie, Archbishop of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and one of the two bishop signers of the CCCB investigation that concluded “the allegations by Lifesite News” about Mexican groups funded by D&P “are not founded on the facts.”
After being shown evidence substantiating the LSN reporting and being asked why he or the other bishops did not at least talk to LSN during their investigations, the bishop frankly admitted “I just should have followed up more”. He also revealed that D&P co-wrote the CCCB report that exonerated the pro-abortion partners and chastized LifeSiteNews.
Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786
Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton
Edmonton (AB) T6A 0L1
Tel: (780) 469-1010
Fax: (780) 465-3003
To contact any Canadian bishop, find contact information here.