Bishop Says D&P Funds to ‘Pro-Choice’ Groups Okay if Restricted to Good Projects

Insists Jesus would not have 'litmus test' of asking 'What is your stance on abortion?'
Tue Oct 13, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

Editorial by John-Henry Westen

August 17, 2009 ( - One question in the Development and Peace (CCODP or D&P) story which has not yet been addressed is that of the disagreement over the issue of whether it is acceptable to fund beneficial projects in the developing world which are undertaken by groups which also advocate for abortion.

Even though this consideration is central to the D&P controversy, it has never been addressed since the D&P tactic of deceptive denial has stifled debate.

At least one Canadian bishop has, however, presented his side of the question in emails to those who questioned him about the situation.  This prominent bishop, who shall remain unnamed, disagrees with LifeSiteNews, but does admit the basic fact that D&P is indeed (contrary to the vehement denials of D&P and the CCCB) funding pro-abortion, or as he refers to them, 'pro-choice' groups.

He says, however, that he does not see a problem with this funding arrangement, given that the money is earmarked only for specific projects that do not contradict Catholic principles. His position may reflect the dominant thinking of other bishops and D&P staff, who strongly object to the LifeSiteNews investigative reports revealing that numerous pro-abortion, pro-contraception and, in some cases, blatantly anti-Catholic groups are being funded by D&P.

"CCODP is not supporting abortion but a project to help the poor and their partners also happen to [be] pro-choice," explained the Bishop, who is a strong supporter of CCODP. He added: "There is an important difference between the two. I consider the Lifesite stories on this one to be another instance of irresponsible journalism. They have failed to make some basic distinctions."

The bishop then stated: "Lifesite's position seems to suggest that before we cooperate with anyone or any organization in supporting a good action, our opening question must be: 'What is your stance on abortion?' and that as the litmus test should override everything else. I don't think that this would be the starting point of Jesus."

To be clear again, we're talking about D&P financially supporting groups that LifeSiteNews has discovered advocate for abortion, but the funds are earmarked by D&P only for specific projects which are said to be non-abortion or contraception related.

Arguments Against Such Funding

One obvious argument against such funding is that the funds are fungible. In other words, at least some of the money from those groups which would have been spent on those ostensibly 'good' projects, can now be moved into abortion advocacy.

To put the seriousness of the issue into perspective, it is worth remembering the fact (which so often gets lost amidst the politics of the issue) that the Catholic Church teaches that abortion involves the murder of innocent human life. Hence, to support even the 'good' projects of a given pro-abortion group, when the funds are fungible, is in effect to assist the group to promote murder. Under what circumstances can that be acceptable?

However, beyond that argument, which is rejected by the bishop in question, there is another, which speaks to the reality on the ground in the developing world.

On the ground, experience shows that those who give a helping hand to the poor become trusted friends of the poor.  Those helping hands from which came at times life-saving assistance are afterwards loved and even venerated. When other life crises arise, such as unplanned pregnancies, family discord, or the like, the poor will often turn once again to those trusted helping hands for advice and help. 

Groups that advocate for abortion usually believe abortion to be a benefit for women or have an agenda to radicalize women and society through abortion and other practices.  What then will such groups advocate to the poor who come to them with crisis pregnancies?

LSN has instead proposed the common-sense solution that funds from the bishops of Canada are better given to the many authentically Christian development groups that would never advocate for abortion and contraception and which do not have a mentality that would negatively impact how they do their "good" projects. "Aid" associated in any way with 'reproductive health services' - which refers to abortion, contraception, sterilization and the like - is hurtful rather than helpful.  D&P should make sure that the groups which it funds are in no way implicated in that destructive cultural and demographic imperialism.

Abortion and Poverty

That LSN itself is distant from the reality on the ground was, however, a specific criticism of the bishop. "I'm not sure that the people at Lifesite have even thought of the connection between poverty and abortion in the third world," he said. "If you solve the first, you reduce the incidence of people resorting to the second."

First off, LSN strongly supports aid for the poor in the developing world and agrees that reducing poverty would certainly help many people, in regions where abortion is promoted and available, to decide not to abort their children. As my mother was born in Kerala South India, I have an intimate knowledge of the poverty experienced in the global South and have no lack of love for those children of God, to whom I'm proud to be related by race.

Secondly, reducing poverty does not always result in reduction of abortion. International aid aimed at reducing poverty often comes with the requirement that 'family planning' be practiced, thus increasing the rate of abortion and contraception and decreasing the birth rate. But beyond that, powerful international population control organizations engage in intensive propaganda efforts to convince developing world women to limit their families through voluntary contraception and abortion.

In practice, a large percentage of abortions are chosen not because the mother is impoverished, but because abortion is locally promoted and available and the child is simply unwanted - for a variety of reasons. Still, the poor in the developing world are often the most welcoming to unplanned children, whom they see as a gift.

Moreover, abortion rates remain high and birthrates alarmingly low in most wealthy nations, where abortion is legal and often paid for by government or insurance plans. The lack of significant poverty in those nations has certainly not led to a decrease in abortions - even among the wealthiest, who inevitably experience failed contraception.

The Failed Strategy of "Walking With" Pro-Choice Groups

Finally, the bishop argues that Jesus walked with sinners and so we too can work with these groups, despite their differences with us and even evangelize them. 

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in a recent interview that the notion of walking with the pro-choice crowd in the hopes of changing their minds has been a failed strategy. Chaput related that when he became a priest he "supported Jimmy Carter in the face of the fact that he was pro-choice." Chaput said, "I argued that, well, he's right on all the other issues, but he's wrong on that."

Chaput continued, "I think there was a great confidence on the part of me, but also my generation of priests - we're the groups that are becoming bishops now - that we'd win them over." However, as the Archbishop put it, "that didn't work." "We didn't win them over. They became more rooted - firmly rooted - in that position."

Now it is time, he suggested, to " try something that might work. If we don't stand up firmly against the pro-choice, pro-abortion lobby, they're going to push us over because they're going to stand up firm. So I think it is a matter of changing strategies because the old strategy didn't work."

Do pro-abortion groups 'push us over' as the Archbishop suggests?

The scandal caused in the developing world by Canadian Catholics funding abortion advocacy groups can no better be summed up than in the words of Peruvian Archbishop Jose Eguren.  In a May 28 letter to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Eguren said:  "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."

Without Respect For The Right to Life, No True Development is Possible

In sum, LSN is devoted to life as the most basic human right, after which all other rights flow. Without respect for the right to life, there is no true development possible.

As Pope Benedict XVI put it in his latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate: "One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways."

Preposterously, D&P supporters are attempting to spin this latest encyclical as being supportive of the organization's approach. Benedict's encyclical certainly does emphasize the moral obligation of those in the developed world to actively assist their poorer brothers and sisters in the underdeveloped nations. But, his emphatic caveat is that "Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good."

Recognizing the systemic deficiency within Development and Peace regarding its attitudes towards the Church's critical life and family principles, Toronto Archbishop Collins has rightly called for a "thorough review" and "profound renewal" of Development and Peace.

See the LifeSiteNews Feature Page, Development and Peace Funding of Pro-Abortion Groups 2009

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