Canadian bishops admit its charitable arm funded groups opposing Catholic ‘moral teaching’
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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.
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.