Canadian Bishops Announce Ad Hoc Committee to Review D&P

Tue Dec 8, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, December 8, 2009 ( - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has set up an ad hoc committee of four bishops to review their international development arm, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P)

"The focus of the committee is to help Development and Peace to review its mandate and to see how they can adjust to the last encyclical letter of the Pope, Caritas in Veritate," said CCCB president Bishop Pierre Morissette, in an interview with Canadian Catholic News (CCN).  "We think that there is a lot of very helpful insight in this letter for Development and Peace."

The review of D&P follows last spring's revelation that the Catholic organization has funded dozens of groups throughout the developing world that promote abortion, contraception, and/or other activities in violation of Catholic moral teaching.

The four bishops named to the committee are: Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary; Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski; Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke; and Bishop John Boissonneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto. Bishop Henry has been highly critical of the LifeSiteNews reports on Development and Peace.

While it would seem the committee is not yet active, Bishop Morissette told CCN that he hoped they would begin working soon.

The bishops agreed to establish such a committee at their October plenary assembly in Cornwall.  It is meant to follow up on the work of the committee of inquiry that conducted an initial investigation in April of some of the Mexico-based D&P partners.  The latter committee exonerated D&P, saying that LSN's "allegations ... are not founded on the facts."  Nevertheless, the committee did call on D&P "to be more vigilant in analysing requests for financial assistance and more demanding about receiving information from possible partners."

Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John's, Newfoundland, who co-authored the report on the Mexico investigation, later admitted the deficiency of the report in an interview with LSN.  At the plenary assembly in October, LSN showed him the evidence for some of the allegations of improper funding, to which Archbishop Currie responded: "I just should have followed up more."

Michael Casey, executive director of D&P, told CCN that he was pleased to have the bishops' new committee join the organization in their process of renewal, which he says they have already begun.

"I think this is going to be a really interesting reflection jointly undertaken," he said.  "We are really happy to have the support of the bishops on this by this committee and they're going to be engaged actively in this organizational reflection."

While Casey insists that D&P has already begun a process of "institutional reflection and renewal," the organization has thus far consistently denied the evidence uncovered about their partners, despite the fact that much of it is easily verified online.  In their report at the bishops' plenary assembly they dismissed the agencies calling for their renewal, labelling them "militant advocacy groups."

Following that report, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa stood up and objected that the bishops were being asked to continue with "business as usual" in their relationship with D&P.  "I'm not sure we can accept that," he said.

At the plenary assembly, the CCCB indicated in a statement that they would support D&P pending the review process.  "Aware that Development and Peace is already engaged in this process of renewal, the Bishops decided, in the interval, to support Development and Peace and its 2010 Share Lent collection," they stated.

LSN called the CCCB for comment, but was directed to await a forthcoming press release.

See all of LifeSiteNews' coverage on the D&P controversy on one page here.

See related coverage:

Bishop Co-Author of D&P Investigation Admits: "I Just Should Have Followed Up more" 

LifeSiteNews' Detailed Response to Canadian Bishops' Whitewash Report on Development and Peace 

New Bishops' Statement on D&P Calls for Greater Oversight and Work with Local Bishops 

Ottawa Archbishop Objects to "Business as Usual" with Development and Peace 

CCCB Prez: there will be a "Renewing, Remandating and Revisioning" of D&P 

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