Editorial: Development and Peace Has Issued a False Statement to All of Canada’s Bishops
March 24, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a three page letter which, according to Development and Peace, was sent to every Canadian Bishop, the official international development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has claimed falsely that of its Mexican partners which LifeSiteNews.com found to be pro-abortion, "none of these organizations are involved in any activity related to abortion."
Since we at LSN assume good will on the part of D&P, we believe they were misled about the activities of the pro-abortion groups in Mexico which they fund, some of which are indeed involved in direct abortion advocacy.
The letter to Canada’s bishops indicates that D&P has received, from the Mexican partners listed in the LSN report, information that contradicts the LSN report. LifeSiteNews.com, however, has produced incontrovertible proof from the websites of some of the Mexican partners of Development and Peace of direct involvement in abortion advocacy. It would seem imperative that the individual bishops’ offices at least assign someone competent in Spanish to follow the links provided which give evidence of abortion advocacy on the part of these groups. In case the websites have been altered or removed due to the threat of loss of funding, LifeSiteNews.com has retained copies of the original web pages.
To facilitate this investigative process LSN focussed on one of the groups in a March 23 report, demonstrating with new documents and an interview with the executive secretary of the group, that the CCODP partner "All Rights for Everyone Network" (Red Todos los Derechos para Todos y Todas) openly endorses and defends the Mexico City abortion law, which allows and even guarantees abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is not merely a report signed by the Network. It is a statement created by the Network itself, which is a direct recipient of $40,000 Canadian annually. In addition, the pro-abortion statement was made on behalf of the Network’s 58 members, which include a second CCODP partner, the Augustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (see that report here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09032313.html).
The most prominent leader of the pro-life movement in Mexico has also spoken to LifeSiteNews.com, affirming that he knows of the abortion advocacy of several of the groups investigated by LSN. The national pro-life leader, Jorge Serrano, had a hard time believing that these groups were receiving funding from an official arm of the Canadian Bishops Conference.
Serrano told LifeSiteNews: "If the Catholic Church is financing those groups it is necessary to report it here to the Cardinal, give him this information, and ask the Cardinal to communicate with the bishops of Canada." (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09031710.html)
The funding of pro-abortion groups goes beyond Mexico. In an independent investigation, the National Catholic Register found D&P funding a Bolivian abortion advocacy group. The group, known as the Center for Promotion and Integral Health (Centro de Promocion y Salud Integral, or CEPROSI) is one of the "the most militant, radical, and active" organizations pushing to legalize abortion in the country, according to Bolivian pro-life attorney Susana Inch Sainz, as quoted by the Register (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09031812.html).
Beyond this, LifeSiteNews.com has received new evidence of other groups in receipt of D&P funds, who are also involved in abortion advocacy. There will be reports published on those groups with the new evidence in the coming days.
International Catholic and pro-life leaders were shocked when they found out that these particular groups were receiving D&P assistance, and asked that Canada’s Bishops halt the funding. Human Life International (HLI), the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (CFAM) and the Latin American Alliance for the Family (ALAFA), are all urging the Bishops of Canada to cease funding the groups which, among their various activities, also advocate for abortion (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09031610.html).
Finally, while LifeSiteNews.com has assumed good will on the part of D&P, LSN has not been afforded the same Christian courtesy. An initial response to the LSN exposé by Development and Peace Executive Director Michael Casey (now removed from the D&P website but retained by LSN), accused LSN of "dangerously irresponsible and slanderous" actions "through ill-conceived conjecture and hypothesis, to deliberately misinterpret the social justice initiatives of our southern partners in this light."
In their letter to the Bishops of Canada, D&P says of the original LifeSiteNews.com report: "The general inference and tone of the article implies that these groups are actively involved in the practice and promotion of abortion. By association, Development and Peace is being presented as supporting abortion."
LifeSiteNews did not at any time state or imply that any of these groups are involved in "the practice of abortion" or were providing abortion services. Our report instead outlined that the groups were "pro-abortion" and we provided direct and clear evidence from their websites indicating they were in some way implicated in abortion legalization advocacy or encouraging the availability of greater access to abortion services.
Saying an organization or person is "pro-abortion" does not mean that they are providing abortion or are involved in the practice of abortion. Anyone familiar with the pro-life struggle is well aware of this. D&P unfairly and inaccurately charged LifeSiteNews with making a claim that cannot be found in any of our reports on their funding of the pro-abortion Mexican groups.
Moreover, LifeSiteNews realized the appropriateness of providing Development and Peace a fair opportunity to respond to the issues raised before any of our reports were published. Our reporter made an effort to obtain this response and was able to interview Gilio Brunelli, Director of International Programs of D&P. Brunelli admitted very frankly that D&P has no official policy against funding pro-abortion groups. LifeSiteNews subsequently published the full transcript of that interview in order to demonstrate transparency (see it here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/090320b.html).
This controversy has been very demanding on our resources. Typically when such extensive evidence of this type has been published in many previous LifeSiteNews reports, the result has been that responsible Church organizations and authorities reviewed the offending website materials and then quickly acted to resolve the obvious problems.
In this particular case, some of the bishops have appropriately said they are conducting their own investigations, whereas Development & Peace has based its response mostly on acceptance of the explanations given by the implicated groups. The predictable result of the D&P "investigation" has been persistent denial that the offensive documents, web pages and statements have any relevance or significance and to denigrate the messenger.
LifeSiteNews is mandated to report the truth, and we have done so with charity. Our efforts at diplomacy and transparency have been answered with ad hominem attacks, exaggeration and misrepresentation of our reports.
What we had hoped was that D&P would acknowledge that it is inappropriate that any funds from the Catholic Church in Canada should support groups which are implicated in any way in abortion advocacy. In the US the Reagan and Bush Administrations had a similar policy - The Mexico City Policy - which prohibited US federal funding for groups which perform or promote abortion.
The Mexico City Policy was strongly supported by most of the world’s pro-life organizations, by the US bishops and by the Vatican, who all clearly understood its importance. That policy was struck down in turn by the two strongly pro-abortion presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. However, if a secular government is willing and able to institute such an admirable policy, it seems that an official arm of the Canadian bishops should also be willing and able to implement a similar policy.
The Development and Peace response has caused many, especially persons who are not regular readers of LSN, to question the credibility of LifeSiteNews.com. That has forced us to continue to provide additional evidence of the facts until the facts overwhelm, which we are committed to doing in the coming days.
Steve Jalsevac, Managing Director
John-Henry Westen, Editor-in-Chief