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OTTAWA, March 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The Canadian bishops’ charitable arm did, in fact, fund groups that “oppose” the Catholic Church’s “social and moral teaching” in matters such as abortion and homosexuality, a joint internal investigation carried out by both the bishops’ conference and their charitable arm Development and Peace concluded.

The bishops’ internal investigation found that of 205 partners, 43 of them (21 percent) showed “support for positions or actions in conflict with the Church’s social and moral teachings.” Of these partnerships, 24 were not continued and 19 had already ended or were about to end during the review period.

“Now (the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada) CCODP only has projects with those international partners which CCODP and the (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) CCCB agreed could continue,” the bishops stated about the investigation in a Feb. 25 press release.

“Funding has completely ended and there are no contracts in place with those that it was agreed would not continue,” the bishops added.

The Canadian bishops’ findings come 12 years after LifeSiteNews began to blow the whistle that Development and Peace financially supported groups in developing countries that championed anti-life and anti-family causes that were contrary to Catholic teaching regarding abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. Development and Peace raised money for its work through campaigns such as its annual “Share Lent” drive that targeted Catholic parishes across Canada.

Instead of admitting any wrongdoing when LifeSite began to release its reports in 2009, Development and Peace not only attempted to undermine the credibility of LifeSite’s reports but even went as far as attacking LifeSite as part of a “far right wing fringe element” of society. The bishops’ charitable arm also reacted by removing from its website a complete list of groups it partners with, a practice it continues to this day, so as to make it difficult for LifeSite to continue investigations.

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PETITION UPDATE (3/22/2021)

Pastor James Coates has been freed!

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the legal counsel which has been representing Pastor Coates, just issued a statement saying that Alberta's Crown Prosecutors have decided to drop all but one charge against Pastor Coates, paving the way for him to be released soon.

This is a great victory, God be praised!

Please READ LifeSiteNews' latest article on this latest and unexpected turn of events for Pastor Coates.

While Pastor Coates will still have to stand trial for the one remaining charge in May, he will at least be free to prepare for the hearings, and to celebrate Easter with his family and congregation.

Thank you for taking part in this campaign advocating for Pastor Coates' release!

Of course, with a trial still pending, he's not out of the woods, yet. But, this is a gigantic step in the right direction.

During his trial, we will keep you updated as to his status and we will continue to support Pastor Coates.

We will also keep fighting to ensure that Canadian people of faith like him are never persecuted for exercising their right to worship freely.

Until the trial finishes, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition in solidarity with Pastor Coates. Thank you!

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PETITION UPDATE (2/24/2021) - 

There have been two important, recent updates to the ongoing imprisonment of Pastor James Coates in Alberta, Canada.

First, Alberta's Premier, Jason Kenney has spoken out about Pastor Coates' incarceration.

Please READ LifeSiteNews' article about Premier Kenney's intervention, here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alberta-premier-who-jailed-christian-pastor-claims-he-is-protecting-fundamental-freedoms-of-religion

And second, Pastor Coates' wife addressed a crowd of supporters at the jail in which her husband is being held, saying in part:

"People keep asking us what can you do for us? Open your churches. Open your churches! Take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and take a stand for the people! Love them, open the doors, that’s what we need to do right now."

To read about Mrs. Coates visit to see her husband at the Edmonton Remand Center and her full remarks, please CLICK on the following news article from LifeSiteNews: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/wife-of-jailed-candadian-pastor-tells-supporters-the-best-way-to-protest-is-to-open-your-churches

Then, please SIGN and SHARE this important petition. Thank you!

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Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church in Alberta, Canada has been ARRESTED for refusing to comply with extreme and likely unconstitutional government Covid regulations that ban people from gathering to worship in their church of choice.

You read that right: Even churches aren’t exempt from Trudeau Liberals’ all-out attack on peoples' freedoms in the wake of this pandemic.

But, Pastor Coates needs to be released immediately, and MPs must take steps to rein-in the extreme Covid regulations which provincial governments are using as an excuse to trample on essential freedoms.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition and STAND WITH PASTOR COATES.

Send a strong message to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Justice Minister Lametti, as well as to all Members of Parliament and to Canadian Provincial Premiers, that this CANNOT stand.

Some government officials are hoping to make examples out of faith leaders like Pastor Coates, who refuse to comply with unreasonable government demands to close-off places of worship to their own congregations.

That's why he remains in custody to this day.

But, no Canadian should ever face jail time for exercising their God-given, Charter-guaranteed rights, and action MUST be taken.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition.

NB: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE FROM CANADA TO SIGN THIS PETITION.

Pastor Coates, who leads Grace Life Church in Edmonton, Alberta, originally suspended in-person services and church gatherings in good faith and out of concern for his congregants after Trudeau’s government first introduced Covid restrictions last spring.

However, the church reopened over the summer when it became clear that Trudeau’s shutdowns were here to stay, and that congregants would be indefinitely limited in their worship size or again banned from in-person worship altogether under their guidelines.

After Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, enacted new restrictions in November that cap all faith-based gatherings at 15% of building capacity (a major blow to churches that wish to resume worship for their members), Pastor Coates kept Grace Life’s doors open to anyone and everyone who wished to proceed with normal practice of their faith.

However, this simple exercising of congregants’ Charter rights was met not only with governmental resistance, but an unreasonably disproportionate legal response.

Pastor Coates was arrested and then quickly released on February 7th for practicing his faith alongside congregants, and arrested AGAIN on February 16th for the same reason.

Pastor Coates remains in custody today for refusing to allow Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his health officer Deena Hinshaw to infringe upon his congregants’ civil liberties any further.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which calls for the release of Pastor Coates, and asks Canada's MPs to take action to ensure that Canadian people of faith, like him, are NEVER persecuted for exercising their right to worship freely.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Alberta govt jails pastor for holding COVID-non-compliant worship services' - 
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alberta-govt-jails-pastor-for-holding-covid-non-compliant-worship-services

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The Canadian bishops, likely spurred on by Development and Peace’s obfuscation strategy and being unwilling to take seriously the damning evidence LifeSite had found, largely whitewashed the matter, saying in a 2009 report that it was their belief that “allegations by Lifesite News … are not founded on the facts.”

But the bishops went further than simply discrediting LifeSite’s evidence. They denounced the whistleblower as being the problem.

“We are convinced that when a group makes allegations, accusations and denunciations against another, this can bring nothing positive to our Church and is a counter-witness to that Gospel spirit that should guide all Christians,” the bishops wrote in their report. “Negative actions of this kind encourage suspicion, scandal and division in the Church.”

John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief and co-founder of LifeSiteNews, wondered if the bishops will apologize to LifeSite for their previous condemnations now that their own findings have proved the veracity of LifeSite’s whistleblowing.

“LifeSite was falsely disparaged,” said Westen. “They said that we had misinformed Catholics about Development and Peace when our whistleblowing was based entirely on hard evidence, as the bishops’ own investigation now confirms.”

“Some form of acknowledgment of the unjust public disparagement of LifeSite and others who reported on this scandal would be appropriate. A public apology would go a long way in restoring the good name of these organizations,” he said.

The bishops say big changes are now coming to Development and Peace regarding the way it chooses partners and regarding oversight of the organization.

The bishops announced in their report last week that they will be implementing recommendations from an Organizational Review by Deloitte regarding Development and Peace’s “alignment” with the bishops. They said a number of recommendations have been accepted that will be implemented by a joint Criteria Working Group composed of representatives from the charity and from the bishops.

These include a revision of Development and Peace’s partnering policy, the development and review of “new criteria” for partner selection, and the establishment of a new “International Partnerships Committee” that will “be responsible for reviewing, approving all new partners, and will deal with monitoring the partnerships as well as any questions that may arise in the future concerning a current partner,” the bishops stated in their report.

“The work of this International Partnerships Committee will be guided by CCODP’s mission to accompany the most vulnerable populations in the Global South,” they added.

“It will also move the organization towards greater transparency on how projects and partner organizations are chosen, as well as to improving communications with the partner organizations and ensuring they are clearly informed of CCODP’s Catholic identity, vision, mission and its expectations.”

The bishops also plan to release a full list of partners in the future.

“As a sign of this greater openness, steps are being implemented so that, in the future, the full list of CCODP’s international partners will be made public, except in particular situations (e.g., areas of conflict) where the partner’s safety could be endangered.”

The bishops concluded that they have learned “lessons” during their investigation.

“The lessons learned from the joint partnership review, along with the changes being implemented in the process and criteria for selecting and monitoring partners, will ensure that the work undertaken by Development and Peace will, to use the words of Pope Francis, help ‘individuals and societies to mature in the moral values that foster integral human development … promoting the good, for ourselves and for the whole human family, and thus advance together towards an authentic and integral growth’ (Fratelli Tutti, n. 112-13).”

LifeSite president and co-founder Steve Jalsevac commented that Canadian Catholics should be pleased that “concrete, long-overdue actions have finally been taken regarding some of the very unacceptable organizations that Development and Peace has funded and been in partnership with for many years.”

“This has been a long, ongoing scandal that LifeSite has exposed in numerous, irrefutable investigative reports. It is good to see that some bishops and others in authority have finally recognized the severity of the problem and taken this recently announced action. We urge Catholics to thank those most responsible for this outcome,” he said.

Jalsevac expressed gratitude for the latest developments and hoped that they “mark a path of renewal of the D&P mission to one of being an authentic, faithfully Catholic mission of service to the poor and the marginalized.” He added, however, that there is “still more to be done” to ensure that the “funding of leftist, openly Marxist and frequently anti-life, anti-family and anti-Catholic organizations by D&P never again occurs.”

“There is still a need for accountability actions to be taken against both CCCB and D&P staff or particular bishops who consistently denied the validity of the investigative reports published by LifeSiteNews, the Lepanto Institute, and others that exposed undeniable, blatant, easily obtainable evidence of this systemic funding scandal,” he added.

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