Featured Image
  Paolo Bona /

OTTAWA, April 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Three more bishops are withholding funding from Development and Peace in the wake of revelations that the Catholic international aid organization partnered with 40 agencies in developing countries that are either pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-homosexuality or pro-transgenderism.

Bishop Hector Vila of Whitehorse, Bishop-Elect Gregory Bittman of Nelson, and Bishop Gerard Bergie of St. Catharines have joined three Alberta bishops in holding back Share Lent donations to D&P until the situation is resolved.

Edmonton’s Archbishop Richard Smith, St. Paul’s Bishop Paul Terrio, and Calgary’s Bishop William McGratten announced last Friday they are withholding funding.

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast told LifeSiteNews in an email he will wait “for satisfactory explanations from D&P before making a decision.”

Added Prendergast: “But I assure donors from the Ottawa and Cornwall dioceses that only partnerships that are in conformity with Catholic social and moral teaching will receive our contributions.”

The bishops are responding to an interim report to the Western and Northern bishops in February on an ongoing joint internal review by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) into Development and Peace grantees in developing countries.

“Recently, serious and credible allegations have been made against several of these overseas partners that they condone and even at times advocate policies and practices, which are not in compliance with Catholic teachings and, in particular, do not fully respect the sanctity of human life,” Bishop Vila wrote in his pastoral letter Friday.

His diocese will withhold the Development and Peace portion of the 2018 Share Lent Campaign donations, Vila wrote, “until such time as we receive clear assurance” that D&P’s “partner organizations in the Global South are complying with Catholic teachings.”

John Corriveau, apostolic administrator of Nelson diocese in British Columbia, told LifeSiteNews in an email his diocese is following suit.

“In agreement with Bishop-Elect Gregory Bittman, the Diocese of Nelson is withholding our Share Lent Collection until the issues pertaining to Development and Peace partners in the southern world have been clarified,” he wrote.

Bishop Bergie of St. Catharines in Ontario “hopes for a prompt resolution, and will withhold donations until the matter is clarified,” his vice-chancellor Marie Jong told LifeSiteNews in an email.

Edmonton’s Smith told Grandin Media last week he was “shocked” by the review’s findings so far of Development and Peace grantees.

“An estimated forty partners appear to show evidence of conflict with Catholic moral and social teaching and, in particular, that they do not demonstrate full respect for the sanctity of human life,” Smith wrote in a pastoral letter announcing his decision to withhold D&P funding.

That includes such Catholic teaching on “abortion, contraception, sterilization, same-sex relations and gender theory,” according to Grandin Media.

The bishops’ review was sparked when Catholic Women’s League members raised questions about a women’s health clinic in Haiti that is partnered with the Catholic aid association, according to Grandin Media.

LifeSiteNews has reported extensively for years on Development and Peace’s funding of pro-abortion, pro-contraception, and pro-LGBT groups in the developing world.

That includes reporting last March that D&P had been funding at least seven Latin American organizations that actively promote the legalization of abortion, including one in Haiti.

Prendergast, a member of the bishops’ liaison committee for Development and Peace, confirmed that “concern about partnerships came to the fore on several occasions and we bishops expressed the need to vet those partnerships in light of Catholic social and moral teachings.”

Consequently, “criteria were identified for establishing whether partnerships were in conformity with Catholic social and moral teaching and some of the partnerships were perceived as potentially problematic,” he wrote.

This was “brought to the attention of officials at Development and Peace and also communicated to the episcopal assemblies. Development and Peace asked for time to study and respond to our concerns. This is ongoing,” Prendergast noted.

It is “important to remember” that the preliminary report contained “findings which have given rise to serious questioning but which are being worked through together, and that we are expecting positive clarifications to come forth at the end,” he cautioned.

“We bishops are united in spirit. Several bishops have decided to announce already that they will withhold forwarding the contributions to D&P until these satisfactory clarifications are forthcoming; others are awaiting results of the review,” observed Prendergast.

“It is possible some dioceses will forward contributions only to D&P partners they judge suitable because they are evidently fully in conformity with Catholic teaching.”

LifeSiteNews contacted a number of bishops for their response.

Quebec City’s Cardinal Gerald Lacroix “respects the decision made by his brother bishops and he is awaiting the official CCCB report before making any other decisions,” spokesperson Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre told LifeSiteNews.

Lacroix, primate of Canada, “supports Caritas’s mission and trusts that Development and Peace is regularly reviewing its partner organizations to make sure they are coherent with Catholic teachings,” he wrote.

Montreal’s Archbishop Christian Lepine “won’t be issuing a statement on this,” press secretary Erika Jacinto told LifeSiteNews.

“He follows with interest the analyses being performed by the ad-hoc working committee at the CCCB. The committee does not have any final facts to share as they are still working on them. We are not aware of any deadline for the completion of the analysis in question either,” she wrote.

Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton “does not wish to comment at this time on the matter of the distribution of Funds collected for Development and Peace,” chancellor Msgr. Murray Kroetsch told LifeSiteNews.

Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau is not considering withholding funds “as we let the CCCB and D&P continue their discernment process,” he told LifeSiteNews in an email.

Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London has not issued a statement at this time, communications director Nelson Couto told LifeSiteNews.

Meanwhile, the CCCB released a short statement Tuesday. It confirmed the bishops’ conference “at various times receives inquiries and questions about some of the partners involved” with Development and Peace, and that “a joint research project is currently underway involving representation from the CCCB and CCODP.”

The review is “a work in progress, for which preliminary findings have been shared with the Bishops of Canada” and Development and Peace, the CCCB stated.

“The Conference of Bishops, while having expressed concern to CCODP regarding these preliminary results, remains hopeful that any necessary clarifications will be determined shortly,” it stated.

See LifeSiteNews’ comprehensive coverage on Development and Peace funding here.