MONTREAL, November 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Some of the most senior members of the Canadian Bishops’ international development agency – Development & Peace (D&P) – have publicly accused Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins and other pro-life bishops pushing for a pro-life reform of D&P of ‘shameful blackmail.’ They have also criticized Pope Benedict’s reformation of the Vatican’s Catholic charity umbrella organization. Journalist Dennis Guending, a former Director of Information for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has described the situation as a “virtually unprecedented” and an “open revolt against the Catholic hierarchy from within.”

As the National Council of Development & Peace (D&P) meets this weekend, prominent members of the organization have mounted a campaign to halt the organization’s pro-life reform.  Findings first discovered by LifeSiteNews in 2009 showing that D&P was funding numerous groups in the developing world which advocated for abortion caused various bishops to demand the reform, especially in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which stressed that respect for life is key to the development of peoples.

That reform process and recent funding cuts by the Conservative Government have led to the resignations of various staff members from the Montreal-based D&P head office. Resigning leaders have expressed their disdain for the pro-life bishops and the Vatican. 

Michel Beaudin, a 38-year veteran of D&P resigned his post as one of the organization’s theological directors this month, remaining however an active member.  In his open letter of resignation Beaudin accuses “some of the bishops in the richest dioceses serving a shameful blackmail.” And in case there was any doubt about who was meant, Beaudin attached a footnote to an interview wherein the Archdiocese of Toronto is identified.

After LifeSiteNews reported on the problematic funding practices of D&P, Toronto’s Cardinal Collins – whose archdiocese provides the largest share of donations to D&P - was the first Canadian bishop to assure the faithful that D&P would not receive funds from the archdiocese if they supported pro-abortion groups. 

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The ‘blackmail’ charge is levelled again in another document addressed to the D&P National Council, this time coming from Beaudin and four others – Beline Beaulieu, Guy Cote, Lise Lebrun and Richard Renshaw - who identify themselves as The Quebec Group of Contextual Theology.  Featured on the blog for Members of Development and Peace, the letter blames the crisis at D&P on “a power move perpetrated by a minority of bishops in the CCCB following attacks led by the LifeSiteNews agency against Development and Peace in 2009 and then again in 2011.” 

“We deplore the blackmail and the intimidation inspired by a retrograde concept of the Church and its mission that were imposed since then on decisions at Development and Peace,” the letter continues.

The letter to the D&P National Council also takes aim at highest levels of the Church.  “The view that seems to us to underlie this twist is one that currently dominates the Vatican,” continues the letter.

In his own letter of resignation, Beaudin also notes pressure from the Vatican for pro-life reform of the umbrella group for Catholic charities known as Caritas Internationalis. Beaudin adds: “These pressures go along with reducing the social teaching of the Church to one encyclical, Caritas in veritate.”

Beaudin says: “Is it not troubling to see the bishops make Development and Peace the symbolic scapegoat of a certain kind of Catholicism that some bishops want to break away from in order to substitute, it would seem, a form of fundamentalism? … The only ‘consolation,’ if there is any, is that we continue to believe that a majority of the bishops do not approve of a policy carried out in their name.”

The same charges were leveled against Rome and pro-life bishops by Louis Favreau, a social scientist who assembled a group of 42 professors and theologians to support D&P in their struggle against the pro-life reform.

“The direction of the Vatican with Benedict XVI is that what is rising and taking precedence in the Catholic Church is sexual morality,” said Favreau on a CBC French-language program earlier this month. “From this moment onwards the pro-life cause is becoming an interlocutor alongside a series of Bishops who are…who are becoming receptive. The movement is coming above all from certain Bishops who are in important Dioceses – Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa - and it’s very simple, that is to say, for us, the money which we collect in the parishes this year for Development and Peace, it will go there or elsewhere.”

Another prominent D&P member who has been with the organization for 13 years and served on its National Council slammed the Canadian Bishops in a post on a D&P members Facebook page. Paul McGuire of Ottawa urged members to read “A terrific letter that condemns the CCCB for their lack of leadership and their attempts to pressure Development and Peace. Please spread this widely - the CCCB are unable to lead Canadians who seek justice.” The letter he referred to was penned by the Executive Director of the Centre Justice et Foi in Montreal, and said that recent actions by the bishops “reveal an official Church that is less and less interested in working together with organizations and social movements concerned about social justice.”

In a note to members on the official D&P website about the National Council meeting this weekend, D&P National Council President Ronald Breau says, “We have gone through a challenging period and have heard from many members from across the country regarding their concerns, questions and frustrations.” 

Pro-life leaders in Canada have encouraged pro-life Catholics to similarly make their concerns known to their own bishops across the country. “Pro-life Catholics should encourage and thank their bishops for urging pro-life reform of Development and Peace,” said Campaign Life Coalition’s Mary Ellen Douglas in a comment to LifeSiteNews.

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.