Canada’s Bishops decide to re-investigate D&P partner over latest scandal
OTTAWA, Ontario, April 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian bishops are re-investigating one of Development & Peace’s partners after the Archbishop of Ottawa cancelled a visit over the weekend by the group’s leader over its ties to the pro-abortion movement.
Fr. Luis Arriaga, executive director of the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center, had been scheduled to speak at the diocesan centre in Ottawa on Saturday, as well as at some parishes. But Archbishop Terrence Prendergast abruptly cancelled the events on Friday after a personal meeting with the priest. In a statement, the diocese said the organization’s actions are “incompatible with the Church’s defence of the right to life from conception to natural death.”
In a statement Monday, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said they are “requesting clarifications” from the Archdiocese of Mexico City regarding the “allegations” about Centre PRODH. They also said the concerns raised by the incident “underscore the need” for the bishops’ recently-created D&P standing committee and “the importance of Development and Peace continuing to work in full collaboration with it.”
The CCCB’s D&P standing committee “will shortly discuss the questions which have been raised,” it read.
The statement also noted that D&P had cancelled Fr. Arriaga’s engagements in the Diocese of Cornwall-Alexandria earlier last week, in consultation with Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher. The reason for the cancellation is not clear, and LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the diocese by press time.
The CCCB statement said that D&P itself is requesting clarification from the Archdiocese of Mexico City as well. However, after Archbishop Prendergast had cancelled Fr. Arriaga’s events because of his group’s links to the abortion movement, D&P had strongly defended the priest and his group in a letter to supporters.
Praising Fr. Arriaga’s “inspiring work,” D&P executive director Michael Casey wrote April 1 that Centre PRODH is “one of the foremost human rights organizations in Latin America.” The group is “highly respected for its outstanding work in defending the lives of the most vulnerable in Mexican society,” he said.
Casey also suggested that the cancellation came after he had expressed concern for Fr. Arriaga to Archbishop Prendergast because of a scheduled “prayer and protest” rally organized by pro-life Catholics.
“Out of consideration for our partner, and for Father Arriaga personally, we have consulted with Most Reverend Terrance Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, regarding the solidarity visit, and shared our concerns with him,” wrote Casey. “Archbishop Prendergast has taken the decision to cancel the visit.”
However, in a statement which Archbishop Prendergast’s office emailed to those who expressed concern over the scheduled appearance of Fr. Arriaga, the archbishop said clearly that he cancelled the event because of Centre PRODH’s support of abortion.
“Because the Centre’s support of abortion rights in Mexico is incompatible with the Church’s defence of the right to life from conception to natural death and in order to eliminate any doubt about this, Father Arriaga’s speaking engagements have been cancelled,” said the statement.
The Miguel Pro Centre is one of the first five groups LSN identified as pro-abortion in our inaugural report on the scandal in March 2009. All five were cleared of any wrongdoing shortly after by a delegation of Canadian bishops.
Fr. Arriaga has shown a history of support for the pro-abortion group Catholics for the Right to Decide and his organization has repeatedly put its own name to pro-abortion declarations. In November of 2010 the priest praised and received an award alongside Consuelo Mejía, director of Catholics for the Right to Decide, while he also participated in an event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the strongly pro-abortion group.