A Burlington, Ontario parish representative for Development & Peace slammed Canada’s Conservative government while soliciting donations from the ambo at her parish on Sunday.

“It’s time we take a good look at the kind of government we want,” said the St. Gabriel’s parishioner, in a video released by Canada Free Press.  “The Harper Conservatives are planning our country’s entrance into the European Union.  Did you know this?”

“Funding for many citizens groups has been cut under the guise of waste, yet we are asked to support the purchase of new fighter jets at a cost of $27 billion,” she added.

Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Canada’s Catholic Insight magazine, said the comments were “inappropriate,” especially considering that Canada is “in the midst of an election.”  “Once again it demonstrates that D&P is constantly in politics,” he said.

In a statement, parish priest Fr. Aleksander Mazur emphasized that the comments were “not the position of St. Gabriel Church,” and that he will address the issue with the “entire congregation” this coming Sunday.  While he usually vets the woman’s talk, it didn’t happen this time, he noted.  “It was an oversight on the part of the parish that it was not reviewed in advance.”

D&P, founded by the Canadian bishops, has been embroiled in scandal within the Catholic Church over the last two years after revelations they were involved in funding at least two dozen groups advocating abortion.  The D&P rep’s talk came on the heels of a groundbreaking statement from Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa on Friday, in which he became the first Canadian bishop to publicly acknowledge that one of D&P’s partners is in conflict with the right to life.

After personally meeting with Father Luis Arriaga, director of the Miguel Pro Centre for Human Rights (PRODH), the prelate abruptly cancelled the priest’s speaking engagements in his diocese.

“I know our organization uses the money wisely,” said the D&P rep at St. Gabriel’s.  She also urged parishioners to write or visit their Member of Parliament, Conservative Mike Wallace.

When I called the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, they directed questions to Development & Peace. However, D&P executive director Michael Casey did not respond to my request for comment.

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women, said she thought the partisan comments were “shocking.”  She emphasized that while the Church can deal with issues of concern during the election, it never takes a partisan position.

“Is Development and Peace to be partisan?” she asked.  “I mean they’ve had tremendous funding from CIDA.  Who are they to object?”


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