OTTAWA, Ontario, June 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – According to a new report, a series of talks by the priest-head of a former Development & Peace partner were cancelled in April by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa after the priest refused to sign a statement saying that his group “supports the cause of life from conception to natural death.”
According to the report, Fr. Luis Arriaga, the head of a Mexican group called Centre PRODH, claimed that such a statement would be a “violation of basic human rights.”
The astounding development was revealed in a document issued two weeks ago by the union representing D&P’s employees and presented to the D&P National Council. It was first reported Friday by the SoCon or Bust blog.
In their report, the union revealed that when Fr. Arriaga arrived in Ottawa for his ‘D&P solidarity visit’ at the end of March he had met with the archdiocese to clarify his position on the right to life and abortion.
Controversy had been swirling around Fr. Arriaga’s talks for weeks, after LifeSiteNews.com and concerned bloggers had pointed to Fr. Arriaga’s past support for the pro-abortion group, Catholics for the Right to Decide, and Center PRODH’s endorsement of pro-abortion statements.
According to the report, upon arriving in Canada, the Ottawa archdiocese asked the priest to sign the following statement: “The Centre PRODH supports the cause of life from conception to natural death; the Director and staff reject any link associating the Centre with abortion rights.”
The D&P union report goes on to say: “Lawyer and human rights defender Luis Arriaga refused to sign such a declaration which, in his own words, is a violation of basic human rights.”
The revelation throws light on the statement from Archdiocese of Ottawa spokesperson Sarah Du Broy to Cyberpresse in May that Fr. Arriaga’s talk was cancelled because: “[He] could not promise to Archbishop Prendergast that the Centre didn’t back or didn’t support pro-abortion organizations.”
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City himself had affirmed in a letter to the Canadian bishops in April that Centre PRODH “has supported pro-abortion groups and promoted the purported woman’s right over her body, against unborn life.”
Despite these statements from Church leadership, however, D&P’s supporters have continued to support Fr. Arriaga and Centre PRODH, claiming that LifeSiteNews and the two bishops have misrepresented the priest and his organization.
Earlier in June 42 Quebec scholars issued a letter slamming a new D&P policy requiring that its partners be approved by their local bishop, saying that Centre PRODH was the first “victim” of D&P’s new policy. In a recent statement the D&P National Council also asked that the decision to defund Fr. Arriaga’s group be reviewed at the next meeting of the CCCB in November.
Significantly, on May 25th the Jesuit leadership in Canada and Mexico defended Fr. Arriaga and Centre PRODH, claiming that the group is involved in “a constant engagement in favor of the right to life of all” which “merits our support.” The letter said Fr. Arriaga “is a religious with an excellent reputation with the Church” whose “expertise is recognized in the Church in Mexico.”
LifeSiteNews first revealed the pro-abortion activities of PRODH in 2009, in a series of exposés on dozens of pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive, homosexualist, and anti-Catholic groups funded by D&P, a foreign aid agency which receives a large percentage of its funding from donations collected by the Catholic bishops of Canada during Lent.
Despite the fact that the organization had openly signed numerous pro-abortion statements, including a protest against a pro-life amendment in the Mexican state of Jalisco, an investigation by two Canadian bishops claimed to have cleared PRODH and four other groups of pro-abortion involvement.
Bishop Francois Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe has defended that 2009 report, and even affirmed the groups’ effort to “defend life” as recently as this May, but the other bishop-investigator, Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s, admitted to LifeSiteNews earlier this year that D&P itself helped write the report.