By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, April 27, 2010 ( – The Archdiocese of Toronto has reached an agreement with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) regarding funding. Responding to concerns raised by LifeSiteNews (LSN) last year the archdiocese withheld $1.125 million in funding from D&P until the organization could ensure that each partner and project to be funded with funds from the Archdiocese of Toronto would be approved by the local bishop in the area where the project undertaken.

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins was the first bishop in the country to react to LSN’s revelations about D&P. Less than a week after the original LSN investigative report, Collins sent a statement to all pastors of the archdiocese, which noted that the “serious allegations” were to be “investigated in detail.” That March 17, 2009 letter added: “Development & Peace has not as yet received its funding from ShareLife for 2009. Be assured I will not allow any money raised in the Archdiocese of Toronto to be used for pro-abortion activities or organizations.”

In a statement to be released to Toronto parishes this weekend, the archdiocese explains: “With the cooperation of our partners at CCODP, the conditions stipulated by Archbishop Collins have now been met, ensuring that all contributions to ShareLife are used in accordance with the outlined criteria for the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.”

The statement explains that, “Fifteen projects were identified in developing countries for ShareLife funding and endorsements have now been received by either the President of the Episcopal Conference, the Secretary-General of the Episcopal Conference, or the local Ordinary where the project is taking place, attesting to the suitability of the partner carrying out the work.”

Bill Steinburg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese told LSN that projects were approved in Brazil, Honduras, Peru, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Philippines, East Timor, Pakistan, Gaza, Iraq and Lebanon. He also noted that many of the organizations are Caritas groups, the Catholic Church’s official development agency.

The funding agreement extends into the current year 2010 campaign. The statement explains that the archdiocese has “pledged an allocation of $900,000 to CCODP as part of our overall fundraising efforts,” for the 2010 collection.

LSN asked Steinburg about the most recent controversy over D&P slamming LSN, Campaign Life Coalition and International Right to Life as the “far right wing fringe element of North American society” and claiming falsely that the pro-life groups were associated with groups that have used violence.

Steinburg explained that the Archdiocese was leaving the conflict resolution between the pro-life groups and D&P to the bishops. He noted further that D&Ps statements about the pro-life groups would not affect the positive relationship of the archdiocese with the groups.

See all of LSN’s coverage on the D&P controversy here.

For the complete list of D&P partners receiving Toronto archdiocesan funding, click here.