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Letters to the Editor - Readers Respond to Development and Peace Scandal

Tue Jun 30, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

Re: Development and Peace, Archbishop Weisgerber statements and Conference of Catholic Bishops Report

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your excellent investigation of the issues surrounding D&P and the funding of groups around the world.
 
Despite how uncomfortable it may be for some in Episcopal authority to hear it, you are doing no more than your duty according to canon law, which instructs the faithful as follows:
 
Can 212 §3 They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.
 
I for one have never felt that your coverage in any way failed to ‘respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.’
 
I hope that however much you may be derided, the intervention of the Peruvian Bishops will be heeded and bear fruit.
 
With every prayer and good wish
 
Rosemary Swords
Ireland

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In regards to the Archbishop's statement on the authority of the Church.

While respecting the position and authority of His Grace on matters of faith, my decision of exactly whom to donate to is my own free will.  The facts can be verified (and were corroborated) independently. Further whether or not to believe D&P's story is not a matter of faith - I would expect that an organization that IS part of the Church would have an official position or would at least have a position on abortion (the CCC and Bible do NOT say I must support D&P).

I will not fund D&P - there are many other groups in need that fully respect life and are careful to not allow others to undermine their efforts at promoting everything the Church stands for. 

In addition, I do not see how Lifesite (whether Catholic or not) is challenging Church teaching.

Kurt Helgoth 
Canada

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To The Editor,

I agree that the CCCB report strains the Bishops' credibility in endeavouring to put the best face possible on its findings in Mexico. However, given that the Bishops must balance many factors, their report is astonishingly "transparent" and self-critical. It is true, they seem to literally deny the obvious truth that D&P was complicit in funding abortion promotion. But even those prevaricating statements, when read with rigorous logic, stop short of absolute falsification. Indeed, the essential truths are admitted.
 
The five organisations studied “were imprudent in signing… orientations not in accord with Catholic Teaching”. The role of D&P in supporting these actions was so much a concern that the Bishops must take action to control D&P “to ensure this situation does not happen again”. D&P are censured for lack of a lack of “vigilance” in disbursing funds without first obtaining “information from possible partners and [without] consulting with the [local] Bishops”. It is stated the D&P was acting without “a good and sound understanding of the social doctrine of the Church”. I think that is pretty strong, given the circumspection and gentleness that rightly modulates the tone of Episcopal pronouncements.

Therefore, I must disagree with the judgement that “the bishops' report is sadly yet another scandal for the Catholic Church in Canada and Development and Peace”. It is, rather, a measured and prudent first step in regaining control of a "Church" organisation that had lost its way morally and been deficient in management of its core mandate.
 
Read in this way, the Report is also a signal recognition and confirmation of the validity of the concerns raised by LifeSiteNews journalists. You can be proud of it as an accomplishment.

Of course, if the Bishops do not maintain vigilance over and conduct regular audits of D&P activities, ensuring they do develop and undergo the doctrinal training courses the Bishops have required, and that they follow protocols, gather information, and exercise due diligence in funding allocations, so that D&P cannot continue to act as irresponsibly as they now definitively have been shown to do, then there might be ground for speaking of scandal. For now, LifeSiteNews should be proud of the huge service done to protect families and unborn children from the Culture of Death.

The statement of Archbishop V. James Weisgerber accompanying the report is quite another thing.

That statement skates much closer to the edge of untruth and reaches that edge spinning in a blinding blur of misdirection. Its tone is ungrateful and insulting to LifeSiteNews and to intelligent readers of the evidence and observers of the events. Particularly odious is the continued attempt to portray LSN’s investigative reporting as “allegations, accusations and denunciations”. Your readers know better.

This is just more of the same kind of arrogant and bullying comments he recently blurted out. I am confident that the overwhelming majority of the Canadian Roman Catholic Bishops are sincere and holy men who must appreciate the unique and wonderful contribution LSN makes to the Culture of Life. I am sure they would welcome an open and amicable relationship with LSN. But plainly Archbishop Weisgerber’s “appeal” can hardly be read any other way than as a bitter snarl “to bite and devour”.

Please maintain your dignity in replying and do not sink to that level of moral immaturity. Maintain your editorial independence and integrity.
 
Robert C. Gordon PhD MBA
London ON Canada

LifeSiteNews comment: LifeSiteNews appreciates the comments in this letter, but at this point cannot yet agree with some of the letter writer's conclusions. Given the past history of Development and Peace and its behaviour during the current controversy, we do not see how the report's findings can possibly ensure that CCODP will not be allowed to yet again carry on as usual. Unless the LSN reports are accepted as presenting valid evidence, how can there be an expectation of genuine and long-lasting change?

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I sent a message to all the Canadian bishops requesting that they not donate to pro-abortion organizations and I sent the list to a group of my friends to do the same.  Do you have the names and contact information for all the American bishops? I would love to send the same to them.

Rosemary Anderson
Nebraska

LifeSiteNews: the contact information for all US bishops can be found at http://www.usccb.org/dioceses.shtml.

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Who primarily funds Development and Peace?  Canadian archbishops or Catholic laity?
 
Over the years, who has truly and publicly led the pro-life movement in Canada?  Canadian archbishops or laity? 
 
Don’t the laity have a right to expose concerns over the destination of their contributions to a “catholic” organization?
 
There are weeds in every organization.  May Gd expose them and root them out.
 
Christine Majta
Toronto, Ontario

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When one reads about the investigation's apparent whitewash of Development and Peace's financial support for pro-abortion groups in developing countries, it's hard not to feel that some bishops have not drawn the correct lesson from the clergy sex abuse scandals that have inflicted such harm on the Church.

I have to say, though, that I'm not surprised at the blind spot that many so-called Catholic organizations have regarding abortion and their readiness to "shoot the messenger" when problems are brought to their attention.

Several years ago, another Catholic organization appointed as national director of development an ex-politician who was reported to have taken a pro-abortion position in her earlier career. When I wrote to the organization to ask for clarification, I received a reply from the president, a priest, that I was reminded of when I read about the so-called investigation of Development and Peace. The attitude and tactics were similar in both cases. I wrote in response to the reply of that other organization's president:

"The more I think about it, the more distasteful I find [Fr. X's] letter. He says that [the organization] does not support pro-abortion groups, but that's not what is at issue here; [note that this was an evasion similar to that of D&P, which said that they were not funding groups that provided abortion services, when what LifeSite News reported was that they were funding groups that engaged in pro-abortion advocacy] no one has said that they do. He completely evades, however, the question of [the national director of development's] views and background, from which I can only conclude that the LifeSite article referred to in my first message described them correctly. Finally, he goes on the attack, insinuating that in expressing my concern I am as guilty of violating the fifth commandment as someone who kills. This appears to be his standard attack on others who have asked for clarification."

Is there a pattern here or what?

Frank Chow
Vancouver, BC

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The Canadian bishops are sorely in need of your help.  They have invited you and LifeSite News to an open and fruitful dialogue.  Such dialogue would be the very help they need to live the Gospel of Life. 

Instead of publicly embarrassing them further and alienating them more, I suggest that you begin to work with them in dialogue.  For example, they could submit a number of agencies or projects that they are considering funding and you could do the investigation into their suitability.  You could make your findings public and make public recommendations to the bishops and D&P.  You could be part of the system that assures that our money gets used only for the glory of God.  What a wonderful fruit that would be!!!

They have made serious errors and have in some sense admitted it.  Rubbing their faces more in the dirt is not going to contribute any solution.  They have called for your help.  I think it is essential to give it in Christian love. 

How grateful I would be if I could trust that my donations to D&P were given only to projects and organizations overseen by LifeSite News.

If LifeSite News publishes a report that berates and humiliates the bishops even more, the possibility of advancing the Gospel of Life will only be diminished.  I am trusting you to befriend the bishops (in spite of all their most grave failures) and to help them be who Jesus wants them to be.  It is time to end the war, and to become at peace in the heart of Jesus.

Bruce Clark
Ontario, Canada

LifeSiteNews comment: Be assured that LifeSiteNews has absolutely no desire to publicly embarrass, alienate or berate Canada's bishops. That is NEVER our attitude and we strongly advise against such motivation.. We are and have always been very open to dialogue and especially wish to be supportive of good bishops, of which Canada now has a thankfully increased number. All the LifeSiteNews reports have a purpose for the good based on the status of this controversy at the time. If we publish yet more reports revealing more information on the controversy, this is done because it has been determined there is still a need for those additional revelations to convince CCODP, the CCCB and certain bishops that this situation is indeed real and serious enough to justify major and permanent reform.

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Recently some bishops were accused of covering up sex abuse cases by a few priests. Now the C.C.C.B. president wants to cover up D&P`s blatant disregard of catholic teaching on life issues! Will they never learn? 

Dr.J.P.Lukenda
Sault St Marie, Ontario

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I know what Bishops' Conference our family won't be giving to on the 4th Sunday of September.
We have voices that need to be heard. My envelope come the 4th Sunday of September will be filled with prayers for this organization and no money.
 
I am teaching my children about Social Justice issues through the concrete example of being a member of the local St. Vincent de Paul Society but also by attending the March for Life as a family and other events.

We have spoken to our 10 & 12 year old about this situation with Dev. & Peace. My children understand that promoting abortion is as bad as having an abortion.
 
It is a sin and it is an even larger, more heineous sin to allow the promotion of abortion through "the authority in the Catholic Church".
 
Attention Bishop Weisgerber: I trust in my local bishop and many bishops - but I no longer trust or have confidence in the CCCB.
 
I have explained the role of the bishop to my children - so where in the CCCB is the concern for the souls in these other countries where we are assisting in their destruction?
 
If you can't get a fundamental right - like the Right to Life included in a Bishop's Conference mentality - I think there are some serious issues within the the CCCB and maybe we should be getting the Vatican to do a "Visitation".
 
Teresa B.
Orangeville, Ontario

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I'm shocked that Archbishop Weisberger has stated that pro-lifers offended by the D&P scandal are " not Catholic " and " not part of the Church ". Is this a veiled threat of excommunicating us?  If so, he should come out and say it plainly.

Steven G.
Canada

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When Helene Pineau opined in her letter that the only thing she can do is "withhold funds" (Canadian Bishops-Development & Peace) it reminded me of the (only) response I ever received from the US nuncio with regard to complaints to the pope about similar corruptions I had with the Catholic hierarchy at the time.

I told the nuncio the collection basket would be lacking my contribution until legitimate complaints of practicing catholic were properly addressed. The nuncio replied in a FAX, "noted". In other words, the mention of money got his attention when nothing else seemed to work. Sad but obviously true in most cases. And if bishops (including the Bishop of Rome) will not dutifully protect and promote the Faith, the laity must. As Fulton Sheen said:
 
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”
 
Roger A. Kostiha
Rome, Ohio
USA


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