Full Text of LifeSiteNews Interview With Gilio Brunelli of Development and Peace
March 20, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On March 11 LifeSiteNews Latin American correspondent, Matthew Hoffman, interviewed Gilio Brunelli, Director of International Programs of the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development and Peace. Hoffman telephoned from Mexico to Brunelli at his Canadian office. The initial D&P report included key comments from Brunelli (see at http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/mar/09031210.html.)
Brunelli’s first language is clearly not English and his heavy accent made it difficult to understand some phrases. However, what is published in this report is considered to be accurate. Sections with dashes were unintelligible.
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Hoffman: I am calling because our investigations at LifeSiteNews have uncovered the fact that 5 organizations that are partners of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace are promoting the legalization of abortion throughout Mexico. Four of them are promoting the legalization of abortion throughout Mexico - one of them is advocating that the existing abortion laws be implemented.* I am calling to ask you if your organization is aware of this and if so, why are they receiving funds from Catholics.
Brunelli: Thank you for the opportunity, first of all. As you probably know, we support a number of partners in many, many countries including these that you are talking about in Mexico. When we support a partner, we do not as a way, engage in revision of everything they do and everything they stand for. What we look is for common ground on which we can do a piece of work, if a work which is coherent with the kind of mission that we have in support of the poor. So, we deal with organizations that you mention———————- that were done by my staff was today accomplish a particular piece of work with which we are comfortable. If yes, we support them and if they do not, we do not support them.
Hoffman: So, um, you are indifferent to…
Brunelli: What I’m saying is that we do not take the complete responsibility of passing a judgment on any organization that asks for our support. We understand that we are given a mandate by the Church of Canada to support a number of Christian works in favor of the poor and that is our bottom line. When an organization from Mexico or Brazil comes to us and says, "This is our particular situation and we need your support," we look at the particular situation of the coherent work that we want to accomplish, yes. We support more than 200 partners across the world in a very big number of countries and we do not pretend that we support everything that our partners do - that would be just impossible. The only organization that could do what development and peace does is an organization like this. So, we are comfortable with the idea that the number of activities that we do with our partner is what we want to stand for, but they also do something else which belongs to them and to their country. Ok?
Hoffman: So, your policy is then to support organizations that advocate abortion as long as they are doing some other thing that you also agree with, is that it?
Brunelli: No, actually we don’t have a particular policy on abortion as we do not have a particular policy on credit or we do not have a particular policy on a number of things, you know. Again, given the range of countries we work in, it is difficult for us to have a policy ….what we do not do. We do not support their work on abortion if they do work in abortion. That is very clear in our principle. Now, if, on the other hand, if they support a work of collectively outreach for the poor, that is something that we can and do support.
Hoffman: So, you are saying that you target the money to specific programs that they do or do you just give it to the organization and ask them to use it in a certain way or how does that work?
Brunelli: That is a very good question, Matt. We have a number of tools by which we make sure that our money goes where we want it to go. Sometimes we target in a more direct way these monies for that particular piece of the program. Sometimes we have a mechanism by which we know that some organization already gives money for, let’s say, the abortion clinic, if they have, or the lobbying for abortion so we know that our money will not be there. And that’s part of the expertise that we have been building up over the last 40 years. We have a pretty good sense of where our money goes in the sense independently because we have a number of mechanisms to know that. What I can say, and I know that it’s important for you to understand that, that certainly no money of Development and Peace goes into supporting lobbying for abortion or abortion practices.
Hoffman: Given the fact that the money is fungible, if they receive money from you to do that - you can re-allocate that.
Brunelli: Yes, I understand that Matt, but that is true for everything. I mean the money is always fungible. You cannot say that because money is fungible we cannot support your work with the poor in Guadalajara or Mexico City. That is their responsibility - not our responsibility. We are quite clear that we have different responsibilities.
Hoffman: Another question that I have, as far as I can tell that the CCODP doesn’t give a single dime of money to any pro-life organization that’s trying to stop the legalization of abortion or trying to prevent abortions from occurring even though many such organizations exist in Mexico and through-out Latin America. Why is that? Do you have a policy about not giving to pro-life groups?
Brunelli: No. We don’t. As I was saying, we do not have a particular policy on abortion, something like that, we believe that kind of principle are coming down by the bishops not by (chuckle) an organization like Development and Peace. We receive proposals from a number of organizations across the world. They are analyzed and studied by our staff here in Montreal. They are sent back to local committees in the country. Our supporters, they don’t track records on coherence and the relevance of the proposals. I take your word that we do not support pro-life organizations. That is new to me. For us, it is not a criteria. For us, the criterion is not pro-life or pro-abortion, it is ‘do the piece of work that they propose to us is something we want to support and something within our parameters?" If it is yes, we support them and if not, we don’t. Or do they have the capacity for carrying out the piece of work that they ask money from us for. If they do have that capacity. So that is basically our role. When you come back to town - we can have a number of conversations. I am always at your disposal. We do not have a policy either for or against.
Hoffman: So, your organization has no policy for or against abortion at all?
Brunelli: No, we don’t. We never were asked and again because we understand that statements on the sanctity and the taking of life is not our role, that’s the role of our bishops. We follow what our bishops and what they tell us in terms of moral principle and the protection of life, no doubt. It is not about Development and Peace, an organization which just derives out of such a policy of such parameters. We are a development organization, we are not the Church of Canada, just a small——- organization. Again, as long as what they submit to us fits within this mandate of fighting poverty, that is what we exist for.
Hoffman: Based on my research of all the organizations that are funded, for example, in Mexico, not even one is for actually helping poor people out of poverty. All of them are for advocating various aspects of a socialist agenda. That was true of every organization I checked. So, your organization, is it really trying to help the poor or is trying to further a political ideology?
Brunelli: Well, I don’t hear you very well but there is no contradiction Matthew in helping the poor and advocating for the poor. They are different aspects and facets of helping them. Helping the poor is not just giving bread to them. It’s having law which recognize the rights of the workers. It’s having a policy in a country about public transportation which allows them to go to work in ½ an hour instead of spend 2 hours to go and 2 hours to come back. So, fighting poverty is not just being in a small neighborhood of Mexico City and Guadalejara and giving out whatever we have. It’s a bigger issue than that. So, what do we support and I’m quite positive that all of our organization that we support, that is the criterion for us, it is one of our mandates - they are fighting against poverty in a number of ways and that is why we are supporting them.
Hoffman: Thank you for your comments.
* Note Re: "one of them is advocating that the existing abortion laws be implemented" - The "All Rights for Everyone Network" (Red Todos los Derechos para Todos y Todas) displays an "agenda" for the organization on its website, which states that "it is necessary to make operative the right that women have who have been impregnated as a consequence of rape to interrupt their pregnancy" (see full text in Spanish at http://www.redtdt.org.mx/wwwf/agenda/C_3.pdf).
In Mexico, there is no right to an abortion (or the "interruption of pregnancy" as it is often euphemistically called by pro-abortion groups) but abortions in cases of rape and other exceptions are not penalized in various states. Moreover, government authorities often act to prevent such abortions from being carried out. The "All Rights for Everyone Network," along with other groups investigated by LifeSiteNews, are urging abortions that fall under such exceptions to be made available to women in Mexico. This would likely be liberally interpreted to allow many more abortions than the exceptions would actually allow. These kinds of exceptions have always been exploited by abortion advocates as a useful path to force abortion on demand.
The Latin American group "Catholics for the Right to Decide (Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir), a pro-abortion group that falsely claims that abortion is consistent with the Catholic religion and that agitates for the legalization abortion throughout Latin America, is a member of the "All Rights for Everyone Network" (see list of members at http://www.redtdt.org.mx/wwwf/mexicodf.php).