CHIAPAS, January 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, has condemned a group that the Canadian bishops’ Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) currently lists as its featured Mexican “partner” on its website, LifeSiteNews has learned.

The organization, known as the Center for Economic and Political Research for Community Action (“Centro de Investigaciones Economicas y Politicas de Accion Comunitaria” or CIEPAC) openly supports Mexico City’s law permitting and even funding abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and complains that the Catholic Church seeks to “deny to women the possibility of deciding regarding their plans, their bodies, and their lives” (see document here in Spanish).

Following the statement, which the organization sent to the Catholic Bishop of Chiapas, Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, the bishop responded with a letter thanking CIEPAC “for sending me your documents.”

“This one causes me much concern,” the bishop continued, “and above all the fact that it is fundamentally supported also by CIEPAC.  It is for this reason, and because of other things, that I am not in agreement with you giving advice to groups in the diocese.  I send to you what I wrote months ago with respect [to this topic].”

In the attached statement, Bishop Esquivel calls abortion a “Hitlerian extermination” and adds that “the fifth commandment of the law of God is very clear: ‘Thou shalt not kill (Ex 20,13; Deut 5,17). Jesus emphasizes and reiterates this command (cf Mt 19,18). There is no doubt, then. To take away the life of a human being, is murder. The fetus is a human being, even if he has been in existence for only one second.”

CIEPAC reprints the bishop’s letter and his statement condemning abortion commenting that they were “publicizing the commentary of Monsignor Felipe Arizmendi, together with the writing that was made public several months ago,” because of “respect for the diversity of opinions”.  “However, we are clarifying that in no way do we share in his assertions,” the organization added.

According to information sent by D&P to LifeSiteNews in 2009, CIEPAC was at that time receiving $40,000 per year from the organization, which is largely funded by a collection carried out by the Canadian bishops through annual Lenten collections.  As LifeSiteNews reported at that time, CIEPAC is also a signatory of the pro-abortion “Report of Organizations of Civil Society on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights in Mexico”,  which openly advocates legalization of abortion on demand throughout the country, with 67 mostly positive references to the practice or its legalization.

In addition, CIEPAC displays several other pro-abortion declarations on its website.

Mixed Signals

Following reports by LifeSiteNews and other media outlets of numerous pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive, and anti-Catholic organizations funded by D&P, and following interventions to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, D&P’s leadership has indicated that it intends to change its policies.  Msgr. Pat Powers, Secretary General of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the BC Catholic newspaper in November that D&P is reformulating the “manner in which people become partners” and creating an “an exit strategy” for ending what the newspaper calls “controversial projects.”

According to Msgr. Powers, Development and Peace staff informed him that CIEPAC is no longer funded by the organization, following a review of its partners conducted during 2010. However, LifeSiteNews has been unable to get a direct confirmation of this assertion from D&P, an organization that continues to stifle attempts to obtain a list of its grant recipients.

In response to an inquiry by LifeSiteNews, Msgr. Powers said that “I have spoken with CCODP (D&P) concerning CIEPAC in Mexico, and as I suspected, they terminated their partnership last year.  As you know, CCODP conducted a major review of all their partnerships last year.  It is safe to say that according to the norms they now have in place, this group would never ever be eligible to be a partner with them.”

Regarding the fact that Development and Peace continues to list the organization as a “partner” on its website, Msgr. Powers thanked LifeSiteNews for the information and said that he would pass it on to Development and Peace.

As is customary, D&P President Michael Casey did not respond to an interview request by LifeSiteNews by press time. Casey has previously told LifeSiteNews that he will not grant interviews to this news agency.  Moreover, LifeSiteNews has recently been informed that, almost 10 months after filing a Freedom of Information Request with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to determine which groups D&P is funding in partnership with the agency, and how much it is contributing to each one, the organization continues to “negotiate” with CIDA over the release of the information.

CIDA told LifeSiteNews in a December email that “we are still under negociations (sic) with the third party in order to be able to finalize the processing of your request.  In other words, we are hoping that the result of these negociations (sic) will avoid that the case be referred to the Federal Court in which case it will take much longer before we are able to proceed further with your request.”

Called again later today for comment about CIDA’s ongoing blockage of the LifeSiteNews Freedom of Information request, Msgr. Powers told LifeSiteNews through a representative that “Michael Casey would have all the answers you would need.”

See also, The Development and Peace Scandal - All coverage from 2009 to Oct 30, 2010