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Fr. Ismael Moreno, / screenshot

MONTREAL, August 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Canadian Jesuits are defending a popular member of their order in Honduras after a Canadian bishops’ investigation found his radio station and foundation publish pro-abortion views.  

Fr. Ismael Moreno, known as “Padre Melo” and renowned for his advocacy for impoverished people in his country despite death threats, is the director of the Fundacion ERIC (l'Équipe de réflexion, d’information et de communication) and Radio Progreso in Honduras.

Both organizations are among 52 groups in the developing world the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) funded in the past but is now jointly investigating with Canada’s bishops for allegedly advocating abortion or LGBT “rights” in contradiction of Catholic teaching. 

The bishops declared a moratorium on funding to these groups — which make up one-quarter of D&P’s 180 partners — pending conclusion of the review, which began in late 2017 and which led 12 bishops to temporarily withhold D&P’s 2018 Lenten collection.

While the bishops and Development and Peace have not revealed the identities of the 52 groups, journalist François Gloutnay of Montreal-based French-language Presence Info Religieuse reported July 29 on a confidential email from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and CCODP to Fr. Moreno.

Jesuit radio station promotes right to abortion

Attached to the email was a letter signed by Évelyne Beaudoin of CCODP and Bishop Ken Nowakowski of the CCCB expressing concern over items on Radio Progreso’s website that “may be incompatible with Catholic social and ethical teaching,” according to Gloutnay.

The letter cited three articles or “interventions” in particular, among them one by “a self-proclaimed lesbian and a pro-abortion feminist who defends the right to abortion” (una lesbiana autodeclarada, proabortista feminista, que defiende el derecho al aborto).

The email included a 30-page attachment of a “series of screenshots of a website” from January 2018, documenting that the term “abortion” came up 25 times on the joint site of the radio station and foundation, although some of those texts have since been removed, Gloutnay reported.

The letter asked Fr. Moreno to clarify by August 12 the editorial policy of Radio Progreso and Fundacion ERIC on abortion.

Fr. Moreno’s July 23 response blasted the CCCB and CCODP enquiry as “not good news” and “as cold as the Canadian winter,” Gloutnay reported. 

The Jesuit said his radio station or foundation had no official editorial policy on abortion, according to an English translation of his letter here.

However, Fr. Moreno admitted there were articles published on the site that “are contrary to official Church Doctrine,” adding: “I accept that our tolerance of articles along these lines can at the very least confuse some of our readers.”

He agreed “with the principle of working to redefine criteria in order to avoid restricting ourselves to tolerance of ideas that may lead to confusion or appear to be part of our editorial line,” the Jesuit wrote.

But at the same time “I have to say that it is not in the interests of the Church, in this day and age, for the media to restrict the circulation of ideas.” 

Fr. Moreno also objected to the secrecy of the joint investigation, saying he would “inform all our members and all our friends of your suspicions about what we are, what we believe and what you do.”

He would rather not have the funds if they were granted on a “conditional” basis, Fr. Moreno said. 

“We need these funds, but we will never accept being humiliated.”

Jesuits defend Fr. Moreno: censorship ‘dangerous’

On July 30 the Canadian Jesuits released a public statement defending Fr. Moreno and questioning the “criteria” the bishops are using in their review.

“Pope Francis has, in recent years, helped the Church articulate a way beyond the impasse of a too narrow understanding of the defence of life,” the statement noted.

“He has reminded us that we must recover a robust awareness of the prudent and merciful discernment, the wise and patient sifting, that is needed when we apply the universal moral doctrine of the Church to particular cases.”

Moreover, in the midst of violence and breakdown of Honduran society, Fr. Moreno’s radio station and foundation “seeks to open a space for the participation of the poorest in this social and civic conversation,” the statement asserted.

“Inevitably, voices that agree with much of the Church’s social teaching, but not fully in accord with every aspect of it, will be heard,” the Jesuits stated. 

“[F]or this mission of service to the rebuilding of civil society to succeed, censorship on the basis of a narrow concern for a part of the overall teaching of the Church is dangerous, precisely because it excludes important actors in civil society.”

The statement said that Fr. Moreno “and his team have suffered serious consequences in the form of countless death threats to the point where he is under police protection.”

Moreover, “[s]ome members of his team and people with whom they work closely have paid with their lives for their commitment.”

The bishops will receive a report on the CCCB/CCODP investigation at their plenary meeting from September 23 to 27, as well as a report on Development and Peace by external investigator Deloitte Canada, according to the Catholic Register

LifeSiteNews has been reporting extensively for years on D&P’s funding of pro-abortion, pro-contraception, and pro-LGBT groups in the developing world. It broke the news in 2009 that the Catholic aid association was funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico, which prompted the bishops to investigate, and ultimately to establish a standing committee on D&P. 

In March 2018, LifeSiteNews reported that D&P petitioned Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to pour more money into its “feminist” foreign aid policy which, among other things, seeks to empower women in developing countries by peddling contraception and abortion.