MONTREAL, December 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Canadian bishops’ international aid organization admitted that it never stopped funding 52 partner groups under investigation for flouting Catholic social doctrine and moral teaching, despite telling the bishops it had imposed a moratorium on financing these suspect organizations.
“It is not true that Development and Peace partners have stopped receiving their funding,” Romain Duguay, deputy director general of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), told a reporter for the Montreal-based French-language Présence information religieuse in a November 24 article.
“It never was.”
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) launched a joint investigation with Development and Peace in late 2017, after an internal probe revealed that D&P had partnered with multiple groups in the Global South that promoted abortion, contraception, sterilization, homosexual relationships, or gender ideology.
A LifeSiteNews 2017 investigation found that 70 percent of D&P’s known Latin American grantees are pro-abortion, including Fanm Deside in Haiti.
In September 2020, the bishops approved the final report of the investigation of the 52 suspect groups, roughly 30 percent of the 180 groups Development and Peace partners with abroad.
Duguay made his remarks to Présence just before the November D&P national council meeting where the council received that final report.
He was also adamant that the final report is confidential, as are identities of the 52 dubious groups, the names of which, according to Présence reporter François Gloutnay, were substituted by numbers in the report.
“The report will not be given, in full, to anyone,” Duguay said. “It’s a confidential document.”
Duguay told Michael Swan of the Catholic Register in May 2020 that under a newly adopted structure of transparency, D&P will no longer hide the names and locations of its partner organizations and projects.
“There was a culture of saying, because we have some partners who are in a situation of life and death, we are not going to name the partner. So the culture was then let’s not (name partners),” Duguay said then.
“Today, everybody wants to know where the money is going. They want to know also what we are doing.”
The four bishops on the now pared-down Development and Peace national council were present at the November national council meeting, Lisa Gall, communications director for the CCCB, told LifeSiteNews.
They are St. John’s Archbishop Peter Hundt, Calgary Bishop William McGrattan, Pembroke Bishop Guy Desrochers, and Ste.-Anne-de-la-Pocatiére Bishop Pierre Goudreault.
Gall confirmed that the investigation was concluded, with the bishops accepting the report in September.
“This means that for all partners under consideration, a decision has been made with respect to continuing, or not continuing, the partnership,” she said in an email.
In the aftermath of the D&P national council meeting, the bishops and D&P “will discuss the outcomes and decide upon next steps, which will include the preparation and release of information to follow.”
D&P said it put 'moratorium' on funds for suspect groups
The joint investigation was sparked by the Catholic Women’s League raising questions about a women’s health center in Haiti that received Development and Peace funding.
By April 2018, a dozen bishops had announced they were withholding the 2018 Share Lent donations from D&P until they had assurance from organization that its partners complied with Catholic teaching.
In November 2018, Development and Peace executive director Serge Langlois told the organization’s members in a memo that “Caritas Canada will not use 2018 Share Lent funds for the 52 partners under review, so long as the situation of the partners is not clarified,” Présence reported.
“And we have placed a temporary moratorium on the financing of the partners in question,” added Langlois.
The 12 bishops thereupon released Share Lent funds to D&P before the end of 2018, with Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto the last to do so. The Toronto archdiocese contributes about $800,000 annually to D&P through its ShareLife Lenten campaign.
The Alberta and Northwest Territories bishops said in a December 2018 letter that they were releasing the 2018 Share Lent collection to D&P on the understanding that the aid organization had “placed a temporary funding moratorium” on the problematic groups, and was reviewing its “partnership policy.”
On that basis, the bishops were also allowing the 2019 Share Lent collection to take place, they wrote.
“We continue to expect, of course, that the funds raised in 2019 will be forwarded only to partners whose commitment to Catholic social and moral doctrine is firm. Here, too, we have asked for a full accounting in confirmation of such distribution of the funds,” the bishops added.
On March 29, 2019, D&P renewed for another year the moratorium on “the funding of the 52 partners until all questions regarding their acceptability have been resolved,” Présence reported.
Moratorium only on Share Lent funds: Duguay
Duguay told Présence reporter François Gloutnay that it was clear Development and Peace had agreed only to stop sending Share Lent funds to the suspect groups.
“The moratorium did not say that the partners had been suspended financially. It is the Share Lent money that would not be paid to them,” he said.
All D&P partners received their promised funding while the investigation was ongoing, Duguay emphasized.
“While waiting for the examination (of the partners) to be completed and for all clarifications to be obtained, no partner has ceased to receive its funding,” he told Gloutnay.
Duguay reiterated this in an email statement to LifeSiteNews.
“As per the moratorium that we put in place, no Share Lent monies have been used to fund projects of partners that were part of the partnership review. Furthermore, no new projects were started with partners unless they were cleared during the process,” Duguay said.
“Any monies advanced were in legal fulfillment of contracts in place prior to the establishment of the moratorium,” he added.
Gloutnay speculated that the CCCB report may have “pardoned” a number of the 52 suspect groups.
Notably, Development and Peace announced November 13 that it is seeking funds for Fundación ERIC and Radio Progreso, two of its partners in Honduras which were among the groups investigated, he pointed out.
Jesuit Fr. Ismael Moreno, who runs the organizations, was questioned last year as part of the review for publishing views in support of abortion and the LGBTQ lifestyle.
Moreno defended the publication of such views, as did his order, citing Pope Francis as having “helped the Church articulate a way beyond the impasse of a too narrow understanding of the defense of life.”
Moreover, D&P tweeted November 12 that the Quebec Ministry of International Relations and La Francophonie had approved a major grant to one of its partners in Haiti, Fanm Deside (Women Decide).
LifeSiteNews reported in 2009, and again in 2017, that Fanm Deside promotes contraception and lobbies for the legalization of abortion.
The CCCB questioned Fanm Deside a year ago regarding its position on the legalization of abortion in Haiti before restoring its funding, Gloutnay reported.
Sister Gisele Turcot of Fanm Deside, who, according to Gloutnay, defended the organization to both the Canadian and Haitian bishops, told him that she believes the CCCB has “pardoned” her group.
“I was not aware of this grant. And I have not received any news, neither from Development and Peace, nor from the CCCB,” she said.
“I am very happy, of course, but also amazed to learn it. For me, it is a recognition that the reproaches addressed to this group are unfounded and that the obstacles to the financing of its projects have finally been lifted,” added Sr. Turcot.
D&P playing a 'shell game'
Georges Buscemi of Campagne Québec-Vie blasted the Catholic aid group for perpetrating a “shell game” not only on the bishops but all Catholics.
“If a moratorium was indeed promised, then a real moratorium, that is, a cessation of all funding to these doubtful groups, is what should have happened,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“Instead, we got a shell game, where Catholic money goes to Catholic groups, freeing up the money D&P receives from the government and other sources to fund the questionable groups,” Buscemi said.
“If D&P no longer wants to be constrained by Catholic moral teaching, it just has to drop all pretense to Catholicity and let the bishops know, so that we can finally stop promoting D&P in our parishes.”
An editorial by François Gilles published on Campaign Québec-Vie’s website was even more scathing of Duguay’s admissions.
“It was evident that for Catholics, doubtless recklessly believing in the intellectual honesty of their interlocutors, the term ‘moratorium’ meant that no money would be given to seriously immoral projects, just as for Development and Peace, the term moratorium meant that the money of scrupulous Catholics alone would not be used for these organizations,” Gilles wrote in French.
“Do we really take Canadian Catholics here for the last fools? In the face of so much contempt, we must ask the CCCB that, as long as the question of the funding of dubious organizations is not resolved, not only no money from the faithful be paid to Development and Peace, but that none of its advertisements in our churches are promoted,” he added.
“There are other charities and development organizations that are truly respectful of Christian values and, above all, do not take Catholics for headless hens that lay golden eggs.”
According to Development and Peace annual reports, its revenue from Share Lent contributions was $6.4 million in 2019, $6.3 million in 2018, and $8.3 million in 2017.
From the Justin Trudeau Liberal federal government, D&P received $17,855,807 in 2019; $16,297,804.00 in 2018; $20,637,996 in 2017, and $$21,899,104 in 2016.
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Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Phone: 514 257-8711
Email: [email protected]
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