Leaked Development & Peace Memo: Social Justice Group Still Denies Wrongdoing with Deceptive Tactics
By John-Henry Westen
MONTREAL, May 22, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A leaked memo from Development & Peace (D&P) reveals that even after an investigation into its funding of pro-abortion groups, the organization - an official arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) - still denies any wrongdoing. The memo, signed by D&P executive director Michael Casey, is dated April 22, only days after the completion of the CCCB investigation of the initial five groups in Mexico, which LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) first identified with evidence as abortion advocacy organizations in receipt of D&P funds. (To read the complete D&P memo: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009_docs/DandPApril%2022memo.pdf)
The memo calls news reports on D&P’s funding of abortion and contraception advocacy groups a "media campaign" by "an international anti-abortion advocacy movement active within the Catholic Church." Notably, the memo completely avoids using the term "pro-life", instead preferring to use the term "anti-abortion", preferred by opponents to the pro-life cause. Says the memo: "Modern Internet-based communications technology and networks have rendered this a controversy without national borders, and engages us in a global Church-wide dialogue."
LSN reports have provided extensive empirical evidence of abortion advocacy by some of the groups funded by D&P. LSN’s investigations have included interviews with spokesmen for some of them which have openly admitted to pro-abortion and pro-contraception positions and activities. LSN’s reports have also included extensive and readily available evidence from the groups’ own websites and in one case even included strong, on site photographic evidence (See the reports here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/features/DevelopmentPeace/ )
Nevertheless, D&P charges, as they did previously, that "misleading and false information" is "being spread relating to our work, our partners, and our involvement in international Catholic networks."
D&P continues to claim simply that it is "not supporting, has never, and never will support abortion or any programs that contravene our foundational Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching." As LSN has reported previously, however, D&P’s carefully chosen wording is deceptive, since LSN has never accused D&P of specifically funding abortion or pro-abortion "programs." Instead, LSN presented evidence that hundreds of thousands of dollars of D&P funds are being awarded to organizations that are involved in pro-abortion and pro-contraception advocacy - many of them quite heavily - ostensibly for non-abortion related projects. However, since D&P funds are fungible, the organization’s sizable contributions to the pro-abortion groups have the effect of freeing up funds for their pro-abortion and pro-contraception activities.
Hence, D&P has avoided claiming it does not fund "pro-abortion groups," but rather repeats only that it does not fund "abortion" or "programs" or projects that are pro-abortion, which of course no one has claimed.
The memo admits that: "The controversy has since spread beyond the five NGO partners in Mexico, as the anti-abortion advocates have published further allegations relating to more than 30 of Development and Peace’s partners in 17 different countries."
The memo continues: "Hence, we are not responding on a case-by-case basis to the misleading and false information being spread relating to our work, our partners, and our involvement in international Catholic networks. Rather, we are engaging in a close dialogue with our bishops, our partners, our members, and with our colleagues involved in the international Catholic social justice movement."
Since Casey played a central role in guiding the CCCB investigations in Mexico the memo’s content has pro-life leaders concerned that the upcoming report on the investigation will be little more than a whitewash.
The CCCB investigation was conducted by a committee of inquiry chaired by Most Reverend Martin W. Currie, Archbishop of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.É., Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. It also included Msgr. Mario Paquette, P.H., CCCB General Secretary, and Msgr. Carlos Quintana Puente, C.S.S., from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. A report on the findings is to be presented first to the CCCB Permanent Council in June.