By John-Henry Westen

OTTAWA, March 16, 2010 ( – The official international development arm of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference has produced a 10-page document in which the organization accuses LifeSiteNews (LSN) and Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), Canada’s largest national pro-life organization, of association with “groups and individuals” who have used violence.

Speaking about the organizations, such as LSN and CLC, that have accused the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) of funding projects with partners that are involved in abortion advocacy, D&P writes, “These groups are part of the far right wing fringe element of North American society and have themselves been associated with groups and individuals who have resorted to violence to publicize their cause and achieve their objective.”

The document, “Questioning Development and Peace,”is a series of questions and answers about the D&P funding controversy. (For more information about the controversy click here)

In answer to the first question, D&P explains that in the spring of 2009 a “militant anti-abortion advocacy organization and several supporting blog sites on the internet” made what the organization calls “unfounded accusations” about D&P’s funding practices. The document later identifies the “militant anti-abortion group” as Campaign Life Coalition, and the main internet site as “”

In the Archdiocese of Ottawa, the document was sent to various parishes by Wambui Kipusi, a D&P national council member for Eastern Ontario. In her email to the parishes Kipusi identified the document as having been “prepared by D&P’s national office to help answer questions that came up last year as a result of the accusations.”

LSN contacted Kipusi, who confirmed by phone that “the document was prepared by Development and Peace, yes, in response to some of the questions that was (sic) being asked.” She several times referred to D&P Executive Director Michael Casey as the one to speak with about the document.

LSN has frequently attempted to contact D&P for information over the past month, without reply, and also recently made a formal request with Michael Casey for dialogue about the issues raised. Casey responded, saying, “we are not at present prepared to engage in a dialogue as you propose.”

The document goes on to state that, “This slanderous attack campaign was initiated by a militant anti-abortion lobbying group Campaign Life Coalition, a privately-owned and financed group with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Using their Website, this group selectively targets and attacks individuals and groups who are not in conformity with their socially conservative political and moral ideology.”

On its website D&P describes itself as “the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada.” The designation, however, does not appear to have given the organization pause in seemingly attacking the whole pro-life movement.

“These single-issue militant advocacy groups, particularly those focusing on anti-abortion advocacy, continuously misrepresent facts and distort reality to serve their purpose,” claims the document. “They create lots of noise, slander people and organizations and remain relentless in the pursuit of their attacks.”

Since the beginning of LSN’s investigations into D&P’s funding of groups engaged in abortion advocacy, the evidence for its allegations has been provided within the articles, usually with hyperlinks to public, internet-based materials. In many cases the evidence has taken the form of first-hand interviews with employees of the organizations in question. Earlier this week LSN published an interview with the director of one of D&P’s South African partners who said, “We believe in reproductive rights, we believe in the right of women to control their own bodies and make their own decisions about abortions, as an organization.”

LSN’s findings have been independently verified by a Peruvian Archbishop, Priests for Life Canada, a prominent Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the National Catholic Register and many other sources.

After verifying the evidence, Catholic Insight editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk last year called for the dissolution of D&P due to the systemic problems with the organization which, he says, is fuelled by a “political ideology of the left.”

Despite the incontrovertible evidence, D&P continues to deny the facts presented and accuses LSN of slander. Says the D&P document: “Allegations regarding some of our partner organizations being involved in promoting abortion have been deliberately misleading and fabricated on the basis of hearsay, conjecture and selective misinterpretation and misrepresentation of our programs and the work of our partners. Not one of our partners named in any of the controversy has ever promoted or assumed advocacy positions that could be objectively interpreted as ‘abortionist’ or ‘pro-abortion’.”

Cryptically, the document goes on to make an apparent distinction betwen the pro-abortion position and support for the “de-criminalization” of abortion, saying that “the principal advocacy issue which has spurred and fuelled the reactions of our attackers has been the issue of de-criminalization of abortion which remains a highly contentious issue in many societies.” (emphasis in the original)

The official position of the Catholic Church, however, is that abortion is a form of murder, and that abortion must be considered a crime under civil law. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states clearly that, “As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”

** See the full D&P document online here **

To express concerns local bishops may be contacted here (letters by mail are far more effective than emails)

See related coverage:

Development and Peace “Partner” Admits Helping Women Obtain Abortions, Opposes Vatican UN Status

“Stop Funding Pro-Abortion Groups in Our Country”: Peru Bishop to Canadian Bishops

Pro-Life Leaders Representing 170 Nations Praise Bishops Who Withheld Funds from Development and Peace

IRONY: NGO Funded by Canadian Bishops’ D&P Battles East Timor Bishops over Abortion

Interview: Development & Peace South African Partner Freely Admits Abortion Advocacy

For all of LSN’s extensive coverage on this matter see: