MONTREAL, Quebec, September 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A leftist endowment fund originally set up by members of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (D&P), the Canadian bishops’ official international development arm, has cut ties and ceased contributions to D&P over concerns that D&P’s mild concessions to Church hierarchy have too closely aligned them with the Vatican.
The Fonds Solidarité Sud, created in 2007 by two long-time D&P supporters and members from Quebec, says that until the scandal over D&P’s funding practices broke in 2009, D&P had acted as an independent, secular, and ecumenical organization despite its official ties with and support from the Catholic Church.
But since then, they claim, D&P has “bowed to the tight control of the CCCB,” and has been subject to Vatican pressure for a strengthened Catholic identity and more explicit work in evangelization.
“After study and deliberation during the summer, we think unanimously at the Fund that D&P, in crisis since 2009, will need to prove its independence from the Church in the future (the Vatican and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the CCCB), which will not happen tomorrow!” FSS writes in its most recent newsletter announcing the decision.
FSS says D&P’s new 2011-2016 program, which has yet to be published, more strongly emphasizes D&P’s commitment to the moral teachings of the Church. They also note that projects are increasingly subject to approval by the CCCB and perhaps even the partners’ local bishops.
The endowment fund was launched in September 2007 by Louis Favreau and Lucie Fréchette, professors at the Universite du Quebec en Outaouais, with the hope that it would be built up to the point where the annual interest could provide D&P a long-term source of financing.
According to a Fall 2007 D&P newsletter, the fund was already worth a million dollars in bequests and insurance policies when it launched.
“The beauty of an investment tool such as the Solidarité Sud endowment fund is that it can accommodate all sorts of donors and donation methods within the planned gifts department of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE,” explains the D&P newsletter.
FSS says they are actively maintaining their solidarity with the “progressive movement” of D&P, but have cut ties with the organization itself principally because of three actions in 2011.
First, the cancellation of a talk by Fr. Luis Arriaga, then-head of Mexico’s Centre PRODH, in Ottawa in March, and the subsequent defunding of the group over its advocacy for the decriminalization of abortion. Reports indicate that the cancellation, ordered by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, came after Fr. Arriaga refused to sign a pro-life statement on the basis that such a stand would be a “violation of basic human rights.”
In an e-mail to supporters reacting to Archbishop Prendergast’s decision, D&P executive director Michael Casey praised Fr. Arriaga’s “inspiring work,” and said Centre PRODH is “highly respected for its outstanding work in defending the lives of the most vulnerable in Mexican society.”
Second, FSS says a D&P partner in Sierra Leone was told to “keep quiet” about its relationship with a group working with child soldiers and female rape victims who had contracted HIV/AIDS. Third, they say D&P members have been required to stop publicly criticizing the international policy of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government at the request of two bishops.
D&P still lists FSS on the French planned giving page of their website, but also notes that a new “Development & Peace Endowment Fund” is coming soon.