EDMONTON, Alberta, April 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – At least three Catholic bishops are holding back funds from the Canadian Church’s international development group, Development and Peace (D&P) after a report that 40 of its grantees were found flouting Catholic teaching in the areas of abortion, contraception, sterilization, homosexual relationships, and gender theory.
They advised Catholics that the funds would be withheld until “clear assurance” is received that they are used in accord with Catholic teaching.
Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said he was “shocked” to learn of the violations of Church principles uncovered by an internal review conducted by staff from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Grandin Media reports.
The CCCB review came about last fall after an inquiry from the Catholic Women’s League on a women’s health clinic in Haiti that is partnered with D&P, the Grandin report said.
LifeSiteNews reported 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.
Development & Peace rakes in millions from Canadian Catholics every year
The Edmonton “Together We Serve” campaign raises funds for 11 charities, including D&P. Last year the Edmonton archdiocese forwarded a total of $239,670 to Development and Peace via the annual appeal.
Dioceses throughout Canada have given a significant amount in donations to D&P’s annual “Share Lent” campaign, Grandin reports, with the campaign netting $8.3 million in FY 2016-2017. Development and Peace logged a total of $41.6 million in revenue, compared with $44.3 million in expenses, to close out the year with a $2.7-million deficit.
In most Canadian dioceses, the “Share Lent” fundraiser is carried out with a special collection. In some dioceses, such as Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto, D&P is supported through an annual appeal along with several other charities.
Canada’s leading pro-life group praised Archbishop Smith’s decision to withhold the funds until D&P proves its partners aren’t operating in violation of Church teaching.
“We applaud Archbishop Smith for his strong leadership to withhold donations until this matter is dealt with,” Campaign Life Coalition spokesperson Matthew Wojciechowski told LifeSiteNews.
“This isn't just one recipient organization that is at odds with Church teaching,” Wojciechowski said. “There are 40 of them! It's a complete scandal.”
Father John Lemire, chair of the Board of Priests for Life Canada, commended the archbishop for his decision as well.
“An important & bold pastoral decision by Archbishop Smith,” Lemire said, sharing the letter on Facebook and Twitter. “Let's hope that other bishops will do the same & that we can finally see some real and meaningful change with Development & Peace after years of concern being raised by leaders in the pro-life movement. Thank you Archbishop Smith.”
Bishops promise accountability, transparency
The Bishops of Canada established the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development of Peace (Development and Peace/D&P) in 1967. The international development organization is the Canadian representative for Caritas Internationalis.
The most recent problems with D&P partnerships were presented in a report in February to the 25-member Assembly of Western and Northern Canadian Catholic Bishops in Winnipeg.
Smith assured Catholics in his letter that the archdiocese would continue to respect the intent of their donations through “Together We Serve,” pledging transparency and accountability, and promising to keep the faithful apprised.
The Edmonton archdiocese’s Chief Communications Officer Lorraine Turchansky told LifeSiteNews Smith was not available for further comment, and that she was unable to provide more detail.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back on an inquiry to the CCCB.
D&P’s Duguay told Grandin that the Church-funded charity remains committed to upholding Catholic teaching, and the group is cooperating with the Canadian Bishops in investigating the issues brought forth by the review. Duguay also spoke of improving communications with the bishops.
“The Archbishop has raised serious questions and they need to be answered,” Duguay said. “We will do our due diligence to respond to them and demonstrate that we are not doing anything against the position of the Church.”
Like Archbishop Smith, Bishops McGrattan and Terrio also expressed a “spirit of transparency and accountability” in their letters, telling the faithful that they respected the intent of their donations.
Duguay said that along with Archbishop Smith he had given assurances to Bishops McGrattan and Terrio that the problems with Development and Peace partners would be addressed.
“We’ve told them the same thing we are telling Archbishop Smith, that this is a natural process [of ensuring accountability],” Duguay said. “We are hopeful that it’s going to be resolved in a quick manner and a very strong manner.”