MONTREAL, Quebec, August 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Development and Peace, the Catholic development organization founded by Canada’s bishops, has drawn fire for being a “proud sponsor and co-organizer” of World Social Forum 2016, a six-day gathering of some 1,200 assorted left-wing grassroots organizations which convened August 9 in Montreal.
“By partnering with the World Social Forum, Development and Peace makes clear that its allegiance is with the Culture of Death and not with Christ, whom it is obliged to serve and obey,” pointed out Michael Hichborn, founder of the Virginia-based Lepanto Institute.
The WSF, an annual event since 2001, was “created by several communist entities” and has taken “official positions in favour of abortion, Marxism and homosexuality,” Hichborn told LifeSiteNews in an email.
“It is completely incompatible with Catholic moral and social teaching and should be readily condemned by the hierarchy,” he added.
Hichborn was chief researcher for a 2014 American Life League report that revealed Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella group of Catholic international aid agencies, was involved with WSF. Development and Peace is the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis.
“Not only is Caritas Internationalis still involved, but it is on the governing body of the World Social Forum, which means it takes part in the dictates of WSF policy,” Hichborn told LifeSiteNews.
Neither D&P nor the Canadian bishops’ conference had responded to a request for comment from LifeSiteNews by deadline.
Meanwhile, last week the federal Liberals asked WSF organizers to remove the Canadian government logo from the list of partners on its website, the National Post reported Monday.
The decision came after Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather (Montreal’s Mount Royal), and Michael Levitt (Toronto’s York Centre) decried what they described as a “blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon,” on the WSF website, and objected to the WSF’s notable emphasis on the anti-Israel BDS movement.
“The Prime Minister, the Government of Canada, and the Canadian Parliament have been very clear that we oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and that anti-Semitism is never acceptable,” the MPs said in a statement.
WSF organizers have since removed the offensive cartoon, and cancelled the talk it illustrated, on “Terrorizm, Wahabbism, Zionism” by Seye Ali Mousavi, along with two other presentations, reported the CBC.
It is also presenting several workshops, including one on Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, in collaboration with CIDSE, a Brussels-based international alliance of 18 Catholic social justice organizations, including D&P.
The workshop is part of the World Forum on Liberation Theology (WFLT), which runs from August 8 to 13, within the context of the WSF.
The Archdiocese of Montreal’s online bulletin carried an advertisement June 23 for the WSF highlighting its “focus on the environment,” and urged local Catholics to attend. “Development and Peace is a partner, and many Church agencies and Orders are involved,” the online bulletin noted.
Those Catholic groups include Caritas France, Franciscans International, Holy Cross International Justice Office, and the Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.
Events at the WSF fall under 13 “Thematic axes”. No. 8, “Struggles against Racism, Xenophobia, Patriarchy and Fundamentalism,” is concerned in part with “rights of LGBTQI/Queer/ transgender; gender equality; feminist struggles; gender issue in different struggles movements; intersectional struggles; informal women’s work; exploitation of women’s bodies; gendered violence.”
Diversité, genres et sexualités will provide a “rich program” on issues facing people who self-identify as “lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans *, queer, intersex, asexual and aromantiques,” at the Montreal WSF, noted Émilie Corriveau in Le Devoir.
“This is the first time since the inception of the event in 2001 that the problems and specificities of these communities will be discussed as comprehensively,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, WSF organizers have criticized the Canadian government, saying it has denied temporary visas to about 70 percent of the 2,000 invited delegates, reported the CBC.
Perhaps this, or the cloud of perceived anti-Semitism, is why the WSF has so far not received the attention D&P seemed to hope it would, judging by its plaintive tweet Wednesday morning: “Thousands at the #wfs2016 march yesterday, but where was the media?”