OTTAWA, March 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Ottawa Catholic School Board defends their partnership with Free the Children and refuses to answer parents’ questions about whether the secular charity distributes contraceptives in the developing world, LifeSiteNews has obtained a letter Free the Children sent to the school board in October admitting one of its clinics does in fact “stock provide contraceptives to patients.”
Critics are calling it a “cover up” and a “major Catholic scandal,” and accuse the school board of knowingly “cooperating with evil.”
Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger sent the October 1 letter to then-OCSB chair Mark Mullan as Catholic parents called on the board to end its partnership with the group. In the same letter, he insisted the charity does not “endorse” abortion.
After receiving the letter, the school board told parents in an October 8 letter that it would continue its partnership, quoting the line dealing with abortion. Parents were left wondering at the time why Kielburger’s response via the board omitted any mention of the charity’s position on “family planning.”
But as the October 1 letter obtained by LifeSiteNews reveals, Free the Children did not omit a response. The OCSB simply refused to report the full contents of the letter.
The school board’s new chair, Ted Hurley, doubled down in February after the parents persisted.
“Free the Children have been open and have taken the concerns we have expressed seriously and both the Administration and the Board of Trustees are satisfied with the responses we have received,” Hurley wrote February 21.
While it is no secret that Free the Children teaches and promotes “family planning” in its third world health clinics, this is the first time evidence has surfaced showing that the charity openly admitted to a Catholic school board its direct collaboration in peddling contraception.
In the letter, Kielburger stated that while Free the Children does not “seek to partner with groups that are in direct conflict with Catholic teachings, unavoidably due to local government regulations, we are sometimes forced to make some adjustments.”
“Because our clinic in Kenya is certified and supported in-part by the government of Kenya, the Baraka Health Clinic is mandated, by law in the country of Kenya, to stock provide contraceptives to patients should they personally request them,” he wrote.
Kielburger insisted that “contraceptives are not part of Free the Children’s development model,” however, adding that the clinic staff “do not proactively provide contraceptives, as it is not part of our holistic model.”
He claimed that “the Catholic Mission Hospitals and Catholic Mission Clinics in our region have also adopted this same policy, and have contraceptives on hand in their own clinics as well, as mandated by the government.”
But the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Health Commission stated March 7 that it is “not true” that the government requires all health facilities to stock contraceptives.
“It is clear to the government that our hospitals do not offer family planning services save for natural family planning. No Catholic facility is forced to stock or distribute Family planning commodities,” Conference spokesperson Jacinta Mutegi states in an email obtained by LifeSiteNews.
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Jack Fonseca, project manager for Campaign Life Catholics, called Free the Children’s disclosure a “major Catholic scandal” and a “crisis.”
He called the OCSB’s response an “omission designed to mislead parents into believing that Free the Children is fully in union with the Catholic Church and her moral teachings when the charity clearly is not.”
“Not only have Catholic school trustees been caught partnering with an organization that directly contradicts Catholic moral teaching by handing out condoms and birth control, they’ve practically been caught trying to cover it up,” he told LifeSiteNews.
John Pacheco, an Ottawa parent who blogs at Socon or Bust, commended Free the Children for being open about its co-operation with the Kenyan government on distributing contraceptives in its clinic.
“This admission should put to bed the questions surrounding Free the Children and contraception. We have it here from the horse's mouth, so to speak,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Pacheco also criticized the OCSB trustees for hiding the full contents of Kielburger’s October letter from the concerned parents’ group that address specific questions asked by the group.
“What kind of trustees are we electing who hide such important information from Catholic parents in Ottawa? What we have here is a game of cat and mouse.”
Fonseca called Kielburger’s explanation that Kenya’s government forced FTC to dole out condoms and contraception a “tad fishy.”
“It seems odd that a government would force an aid organization to dole out condoms. I’d like to see the written document from the government of Kenya where it tells Free the Children: ‘You must stock and handout contraception or we’ll shut you down.’ I plan to write Mr. Kielburger myself and request a copy of that written document.”
Either way, Fonseca said in partnering with a group that stocks and provides contraception, the Ottawa Catholic School Board is “cooperating with evil.”
“Catholics are required to refuse to participate in intrinsic evil, and this sets a horrible example for students in the board. It sends the message that it’s ok to commit evil in order to achieve some other good end. That’s contrary to Catholic ethics.”
Parent James Doak, a ratepayer in the OCSB, told LifeSiteNews that there is “no reason for a Catholic organization to be partnering with a group that stocks and provides contraceptives. I hope the OCSB will partner with an organization that the local Kenyan Bishops' conference supports.”
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops in a 2012 letter strongly criticized “foreign agencies” that “target millions of girls and women in Africa for the artificial ‘family planning’ programme,” saying the agenda is “unimaginable, dangerous and could lead to destruction of the human society and by extension the human race.”
“The use of contraceptives … is both dehumanizing and goes against the Teaching of the church especially in a country like Kenya where a majority of the people are Christians and God fearing. It already threatens the moral fabric of the society and is an insult to the dignity and integrity of the human person,” stated the bishops.
LifeSiteNews sought comment from the Ottawa Catholic School Board but did not hear back by press time.
Julian Hanlon, Director of Education
Phone: 613-224-4455 ext 2272
Ted Hurley, Chair
Ottawa Catholic School Board