Canadian bishops offer opposing views on funding pro-abortion groups
March 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) While the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is saying there is no way the bishops would fund groups involved with abortion in any capacity, one of the bishops on the CCCB committee dealing with doling out such monies is saying the opposite.
Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, the CCCB’s president, told Salt + Light TV in January regarding Development & Peace, the bishops’ international development arm, that the bishops “would not have patience for one minute to be supporting any partner that would in any way be pro-abortion.”
Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, on the other hand, has reiterated his stance that D&P should be able to fund pro-abortion groups.
The bishop, who sits on the special committee of bishops established to set D&P straight in light of the scandal of their funding of pro-abortion groups, made the comments in response to LifeSiteNews’ recent revelations that a D&P funded group in Haiti was promoting and distributing contraception and had published a book promoting ‘safe’ and ‘legal’ abortion.
“The group may not be perfect but they must be doing a lot of good work even if there are a few positions and actions that we will have to challenge them on,” says the bishop in the current edition of the Western Catholic Reporter.
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Bishop Henry pointed to a letter of approval of the controversial group from the local archdiocese. “If the Haitian bishops are onside and vouch for this group, then I would support them,” he said.
Bishop Henry added, “LifeSite seems to want a squeaky clean world but have no idea as to how to get there.”
In the past, LifeSiteNews has provided a list of groups in Haiti that are active in assisting the poor and in rebuilding the devastated nation, but which do not espouse an anti-life position. However, according to the last publicly available list of D&P’s partners, the Catholic organization is not funding any of these groups.
Gwen Landolt, National Vice President of REAL Women Canada, told LifeSiteNews that in her view Bishop Henry’s stance was unacceptable.
“By working alongside such groups with funding, we are indeed confirming or accepting the contraception and abortion promotion they do which is anathema to the Church’s teaching,” said Landolt, whose organization was recently named in an advisory capacity to the Conservative Government.
“We can’t in any way accept or be seen to be accepting of abortion in any way since it is evil and wrong,” she added, agreeing with the statement of Archbishop Smith. “We are condoning it by working alongside such groups where evidence provided by LifeSiteNews shows them to be involved.”
Bishop Henry has in the past maintained that it is acceptable for D&P to fund projects run by “pro-choice” groups.
“CCODP is not supporting abortion but a project to help the poor and their partners also happen to [be] pro-choice,” the bishop wrote in an e-mail to concerned pro-lifers in 2009. “There is an important difference between the two.”
“Lifesite’s position seems to suggest that before we cooperate with anyone or any organization in supporting a good action, our opening question must be: ‘What is your stance on abortion?’ and that as the litmus test should override everything else. I don’t think that this would be the starting point of Jesus.”
Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, on the other hand, has insisted that “it is not enough to examine the suitability of individual projects.”
“The organizations that operate the projects must also be in harmony with the principles of our Catholic faith. If they are not, then there are plenty of other worthy projects that are operated by organizations which we can in good conscience support, and funding should go to them,” he wrote.
D&P is preparing for an urgent appeal for heightened donations from Catholics to be implemented at Masses this Sunday. The urgency of the campaign comes in response to the fact that the Canadian Government has cut funding to D&P by 65%. Although the Government has refused to indicate what prompted the cut, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) spokesman Kathy Heath-Eves told LifeSiteNews that it has “has decided to focus its contribution” to D&P “on the countries and sectors where programming is most likely to produce tangible results.”
From 2006-2011 CIDA funded D&P $44.6 million. D&P requested $49.2 million for the 2011-2016 term and was granted $14.9 million for the five-year period.
REAL Women’s Gwen Landolt has called on the Canadian Bishops to suspend funding of D&P until the group quits funding groups which flout Catholic teaching.
* See the LifeSiteNews Feature Page on Development and Peace