PEMBROKE, Ontario, August 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Bishop of Pembroke, Ontario has decided to withhold all funds from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (D&P), the official international aid agency of the Canadian bishops. The move comes after the Archbishop of Ottawa was forced to cancel an event with one of D&P’s partners in April because of the group’s promotion of the decriminalization of abortion.
“Recent developments in the Archdiocese of Ottawa during Lent have demonstrated that a great deal of work needs to be done to allow CCODP to be fully effective,” wrote Bishop Michael Mulhall on July 21st, in a letter distributed in Sunday bulletins throughout his diocese. “For the future, the Diocese will continue to sponsor development and missionary efforts which are identified for you during the Lenten Season.”
D&P had planned to host a “solidarity visit” on April 2 with Fr. Luis Arriaga, then-executive director of Centre PRODH, at Ottawa’s diocesan centre. But Archbishop Terrence Prendergast abruptly cancelled the event the day before after a personal meeting with the priest. In a statement, the archbishop said Centre PRODH’s actions are “incompatible with the Church’s defence of the right to life from conception to natural death.”
Centre PRODH had openly signed numerous pro-abortion statements, including a protest against a pro-life amendment in the Mexican state of Jalisco, and Fr. Arriaga had expressed support for the abortion lobby group Catholics for the Right to Decide.
However, 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.”
LifeSiteNews first revealed Centre PRODH’s pro-abortion activities in 2009 in a series of exposés on dozens of pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive, homosexualist, and anti-Catholic groups funded by D&P, a foreign aid agency that receives a large percentage of its funding from donations collected by the Catholic bishops of Canada from Catholic parishes during Lent.
Bishop Mulhall responded to the D&P controversy in 2010 by setting up a Diocesan Lenten Missionary and Development Collection, and specifying that D&P’s portion of the proceeds could only be used to support their emergency relief efforts.
In March, before the Ottawa controversy, he had told his faithful that the diocese would continue this approach for 2011, saying that D&P’s difficulties had not been fully resolved. He said he was assured at the Canadian Bishops’ October 2010 plenary meeting that “positive steps” were being taken, but noted that “it would take several years for some of these changes to be implemented throughout the organization.”
The diocese’s 2011 collection garnered $146,108.88. The funds will now be used to assist Iraqi Christians and to support the missionary work of religious groups working in the diocese.