WASHINGTON, December 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - “I’m elated beyond words.” “An early Christmas present.” “Deo gratsias!” “It is a welcome and huge move…” “One of the most important papal directives in the last half-century”.  These were some of the reactions of pro-life leaders to Pope Benedict XVI’s directive called ‘On the service of charity’ released Saturday which mandated (ordered) that charitable activities undertaken by the Catholic Church never offend Catholic teaching.

In the directive, the Pope stated: “I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed, notwithstanding anything to the contrary.”  Nevertheless, pro-life leaders are warning that the directives from the Pope must be followed and not ignored as has happened in the past. 

American Life League President Judie Brown told LifeSiteNews, “We are going to issue a release demanding that each bishop comply with what the Holy Father has instructed.” She said that she’s watched for forty years as such heroic efforts by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict were frustrated. “Will the bishops pay attention? The track record is very dim.”

Fr. Shenan Boquet, President of Human Life International commented: “We must redouble our prayer for conversion within the Church. This will not be well received in some circles, and is likely to further expose existing crevasses that can no longer be hidden.”

Fr. Boquet explained the evolution of charity into what is today often an abusive practice. “Over the past few decades, the developing world has sadly seen a dramatic increase in the essential efforts of service to the poor being integrated with completely destructive and counterproductive anti-life assaults on those being served, and on their cultures,” he said. “Emergency shelter somehow requires legalized abortion, food comes with condoms and incredible pressure to reduce birth rates, economic assistance requires adoption of a radical sexual and political agenda. More and more the message to the poor and suffering from the secular development industry is ‘we’ll help you, but you need to stop having children now and leave your traditions behind.’”

Stressing the need for the Pope’s new document, Fr. Boquet explained, “And sadly, too often the Church’s own agencies have not only not spoken up against this new normal in development, but they have at times even funded the groups who lead the trend. This Motu Proprio is an effort to rid this essential work of the Church of its ideological confusion, and to make it both more effective and more Catholic.”

Pro-life groups which have witnessed the damage from Catholic charities gone awry also welcomed the new directive which goes so far as to require bishops to publicly strip the name ‘Catholic’ from those charities which are not carried out in conformity with Church teaching. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of parish collected donations have been given in recent decades by Church aid agencies for projects undertaken by organizations who actively oppose Catholic moral and other teachings.

Population Research Institute President Stephen Mosher told LifeSiteNews, “The Pope’s moto propio is a welcome corrective to the corrosive secularization of many Catholic agencies around the world, including the Catholic Relief Services in the U.S.  African and Latin American bishops have been complaining for years about so-called ‘Catholic charities’ that are, in fact, neither authentically Catholic nor truly charitable.”

Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute commented, “Millions of dollars are given to Catholic groups in the form of the widow’s mite and much of it goes to Catholic groups that are no longer, strictly speaking, Catholic. The Pope’s instruction is most welcome though I suspect the dissident groups will continue to do whatever they want.”

Beyond pro-life leaders, the scandal of Catholic charitable institutions funding anti-life groups in the name of the Catholic Church has outraged bishops in the developing world. 

Even as LifeSiteNews was being publicly condemned by the Canadian Bishops Conference for reporting that its international development arm was funding pro-abortion groups, a Peruvian bishop wrote the Canadian bishops asking them to stop funding such groups in his country.

In a May 28, 2009 letter, the Bishops Conference of Peru has “formally” requested that the bishops of Canada cease funding pro-abortion groups in Peru via the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development & Peace (D&P). “It is very disturbing to have groups which work against the Bishops of Peru by attempting to undermine legal protection for the right to life of unborn children, be funded by our brother bishops in Canada,” said the letter.

See related report
Pope decrees: Catholic charities must always act in accordance with Catholic teaching