By Patrick B. Craine

MONTREAL, Quebec, March 22, 2010 ( – In October LifeSiteNews (LSN) revealed that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), the Canadian bishops’ social justice arm, is partnered with a group in the Philippines – the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – that has pushed for the passage of a highly controversial “reproductive health” bill which has been strenuously opposed by the country’s Catholic bishops.

Now D&P has announced that they are making preparations to send a delegation of Canadian youth to the Philippines this August, in part to work with this same group.

Asked for comment, D&P’s executive director, Michael Casey, told LSN: “I’m sorry. We don’t give interviews to LifeSiteNews. Thank you.” He then hung up.

D&P’s “young adult solidarity trip” aims to provide the young adults with “a personal experience of the reality of people in the Global South” and to help them “gain a perspective on what ‘development’ looks like on the ground by meeting a number of D&P Partners.”

The ten young adults, five anglophone and five francophone, will work with FDC as well as the Center for Environmental Concern-Philippines and Urban Poor Associates. Applications for the three-week trip, open to D&P supporters aged 18-35, were due last week.

D&P’s website lists FDC as a partner and links to the group’s website, where evidence of FDC’s abortion advocacy is readily available.

A search of their site for the word ‘abortion’ yields two articles. The second article, ‘Women’s groups urge lawmakers to pass Reproductive Health Bill’, from September 21, 2008, identifies FDC as part of a 50-group coalition promoting the Philippines’ Reproductive Health Bill 5043. The article notes that the coalition “stressed that it is a woman’s right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to her sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

According to the coalition, “The RH Bill makes it the responsibility of the state to protect the right to choose, not to make decisions for individuals. Women’s right to choose is a basic part of exercising control over their lives. The Bill provides for women to be informed and to services that will ensure women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.”

This same Reproductive Health Bill 5043 has been strongly opposed by the country’s Catholic bishops, as is abundantly clear from the numerous statements and articles available on their website on the topic. In a November 2008 pastoral letter, the bishops wrote: “It is our collective discernment that the Bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb. It is a source of danger for the stability of the family. It places the dignity of womanhood at great risk.”

The Knights of Columbus in the Philippines have also fought against the bill, organizing the first annual Walk for Life in Manila and other major cities last year in order to oppose it. They held their second annual Walk for Life on Saturday calling on the government to reject proposals for contraceptive population control programs.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Freedom from Debt Coalition by press time.

See a full listing of LifeSiteNews’ coverage of the D&P scandal here.

See related coverage:

LSN Video: Development & Peace Funded Group vs Philippines Bishops

D&P Sent Canadian Young Adults to Work with Condom-Pushing, NGO in Nigeria