Canadian bishops again ban LifeSite from covering annual meeting

The bishops have banned LifeSite since 2011, following the news agency’s reports on their charity’s pro-abortion funding.
Thu Sep 27, 2018 - 3:58 pm EST
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CORNWALL, Ontario, September 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s bishops have barred LifeSiteNews for the third time from covering their fall plenary meeting in Cornwall, citing concern over the news outlet’s “tone and style.”

The decision comes as the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) was set to discuss its review of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace -- a review that began in late 2017 after LifeSiteNews reported earlier that year the bishops’ international aid organization was again partnering with pro-abortion and pro-homosexual groups in developing countries.

But the CCCB also clamped down on all journalists allowed to attend the first day-and-a-half of their 2018 assembly -- the only portion of the week-long event that began Monday that is open to reporters.

The CCCB restrictions ban reporters from approaching bishops or their staff “for interviews at any time, including coffee breaks and meals,” thus limiting media access to pre-approved interviews for which questions must be submitted in advance.

Stephane Giroux, president of the Quebec Federation of Professional Journalists, told the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter the new requirements are “totally inadmissible.”

However, incoming CCCB communications director Lisa Gall defended the controls, telling NCR the plenary assembly “is not a public meeting,” and pointing out the bishops delegate an official spokesperson.

“The CCCB appreciates the importance that media plays in the life of the church and society in general,” Gall said. “In this light, and to enhance the positive relationship, we find that a clear understanding of mutual expectations is beneficial to all parties involved.”

The new controls come as the bishops are expected to discuss and likely approve a “highly anticipated update” to their document on the protection of minors to align the guidelines “with current legislation and the canonical norms of the Holy See,” according to the CCCB website.

The document — “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Faithful of Canada for Healing, Reconciliation and Transformation” — coincides with a resurgence of clerical sex abuse scandals in Chile, Honduras, the United States, and Germany that are rocking the Catholic Church, and are implicating Pope Francis and high-ranking clergy.

As for the Development and Peace probe, the 90 bishops attending the plenary received an update behind closed doors on Wednesday, as Bishop William McGratten of Calgary confirmed in his 15-minute English-language press briefing on Salt and Light Television that evening.

The probe was launched in the fall of 2017 after the Catholic Women’s League raised questions about a Development & Peace partner clinic in Haiti, an enquiry that followed LifeSiteNews reporting March 2017 that D&P had been funding at least seven Latin American organizations, including one in Haiti, that actively promote the legalization of abortion.

After a February update confirmed Development and Peace had indeed partnered with some 40 groups abroad that are pro-abortion or pro-LGBTQ, a dozen bishops announced they were withholding the 2018 Lenten collection from Development and Peace.

The bishops, including Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, said they wouldn’t release funds to the organization until they were sure its partner agencies conform to Catholic teaching.

It was LifeSiteNews that initially broke the news about D&P’s funding scandals in 2009, when it reported the Catholic aid association was funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico.

Those revelations prompted the bishops to investigate that same year, and to establish a standing committee in 2010 to monitor D&P’s activities and international partners. At the same time, however, D&P stopped publicly listing most of the groups it supports, and even went to court to prevent the list from being published.

Moreover, the first time the bishops denied LifeSiteNews accreditation to attend their October plenary was in 2011, six months after the Development & Peace controversy erupted anew when Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast cancelled a speaking tour by a priest from a pro-abortion Mexican D&P partner group.

LifeSiteNew editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen was told to leave the plenary after the opening Mass. Westen, who had driven five hours to attend the meeting, had not received a CCCB email telling him his accreditation had been denied.

“The leadership of our Conference has expressed serious concerns over the manner in which positions have been taken by your organization,” the email from then-spokesperson Deacon Rene Laprise stated.

LifeSiteNews was likewise rejected in 2012, and did not apply again for accreditation until this year.

“While we appreciate your commitment to life issues, we have concerns regarding the tone and style of LifeSite’s news coverage,” CCCB’s Gall wrote LifeSiteNews last week. Gall did not respond to LifeSite’s request for specific examples.

LifeSiteNews’ presence at CCCB plenary in past years has been significant because it allowed the news agency to report several key developments that otherwise risked going unreported.

In particular, LifeSiteNews was able to report in 2009 on the stand taken by Collins and Prendergast, who broke protocol to rise and demand Development & Peace not proceed with “business as usual” after the funding scandal broke earlier that year.

Also that year, LifeSiteNews talked to a few bishops regarding the Development and Peace situation, including Archbishop Martin W. Currie of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Along with Bishop François Lapierre of Sainte-Hyacinthe, Currie signed the 2009 CCCB report that concluded “the allegations by LifeSiteNews” about Mexican groups funded by D&P “are not founded on the facts.” That 2009 report charged that LifeSite’s investigation of Development and Peace was a “counter-witness to that Gospel spirit that should guide all Christians.”

LifeSiteNews was able to show the archbishop online evidence of direct pro-abortion advocacy of one of the five groups he investigated, to which Currie frankly and apologetically acknowledged: “I just should have followed up more.”

Currie revealed in a 2011 interview with LifeSiteNews that Development & Peace actually co-wrote the 2009 CCCB report that claimed to exonerate them.


Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi
Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Email: [email protected]

Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Québec
President, CCCB
Diocèse de Saint-Jean-Longueuil
740, boulevard Sainte-Foy
Longueuil, QC J4J 1Z3
Phone: (450) 679-1100
Email: [email protected]

Msgr Frank Leo, Jr., C.S.S.
General Secretariat
2500 Don Reid Dr.
Ottawa, ON K1H 2J2
Tel: (613) 241-9461
Email: [email protected]

Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg
Vice President, CCCB
1495 Pembina Hwy,
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2C6
Phone: (204) 452-2227
Email: [email protected]

Archbishop Luc Cyr of Sherbrooke
Co-Treasurer, CCCB
130, rue de la Cathédrale
Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 4M1
Phone: (819) 563-9934
Email: [email protected]

Bishop William Terrence McGrattan of Calgary
Co-Treasurer, CCCB
Catholic Pastoral Centre
Room 308, The Iona Building
120-17th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, AB T2S 2T2
Phone: (403) 218-5526
Email: [email protected]

Find contact information for all of Canada’s bishops here.

  canadian bishops, catholic, development and peace

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