Wednesday February 10, 2010

Toronto Archdiocese Renews Funding Restrictions on Development and Peace

By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, February 9, 2010 ( – This week an ad hoc committee of Bishops of Canada are meeting to discuss the situation around the bishops’ international aid arm, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P). Meanwhile, the archbishop of Toronto has decided to continue the same funding restrictions on funds from the archdiocese to D&P that he instituted last year, in the wake of the scandal.

Calls and emails to D&P to determine the status on funding of abortion advocacy groups they partner with have not been returned. However, based upon its website, D&P looks to have made no significant changes in terms of funding of groups which LifeSiteNews (LSN) and other researchers showed to be advocating for abortion and/or contraception. A video step-through showing clear online evidence of pro-abortion advocacy by a partner that was listed on D&P’s website was produced by LSN in October last year; but the pro-abortion partner is still listed, as of this writing, on the site.

LSN spoke with Bill Steinberg, the communications manager for the Sharelife appeal of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Sharelife is the major contributor to D&P from the Catholic Church, accounting for over 10% of D&P’s annual funding. Last year, under the direction of Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, the archdiocese’s $1.125 million contribution to D&P from Sharelife was restricted by permitting the funds to go only to those D&P partners which were approved by their local bishops.

The solution was praised by pro-life leaders in Canada at the time, since none of the pro-abortion groups funded by D&P were known to be endorsed by their local bishops in the developing world.

Steinberg told LSN that this year the archbishop is again providing the same assurance he did last year; funds that go to D&P from Sharelife are for projects that are approved by the local ordinary, he said.

After LSN broke the story about D&P’s funding of pro-abortion groups throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa, Archbishop Collins was the first bishop in the country to announce that he was withholding funding pending an investigation. “Development & Peace has not as yet received its funding from ShareLife for 2009. Be assured I will not allow any money raised in the Archdiocese of Toronto to be used for pro-abortion activities or organizations,” he said at the time.

Archbishop Collins warned that future funding for D&P would be contingent on reform of the organization. “It is vital that this coming year be one in which Development and Peace experiences profound renewal, and the depth of that renewal will determine its future,” he said. “Future ShareLife funding for Development and Peace will depend upon our assessment of the degree to which the issues that concern us have been resolved.”

Part of that reform is greater oversight of D&P by the bishops of Canada. The ad hoc meeting of bishops this week is part of that process. The four bishops named to the committee are: Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary; Archbishop Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski; Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke; and Bishop John Boissonneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto.

Last week LSN spoke briefly with Bishop Boissonneau about the current status of D&P, but he noted that he would be briefed on the situation at the meeting.

There is significant disagreement among the bishops on how to handle the issues involved. For instance, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry has said that he supports allowing donations to fund worthy projects undertaken by groups which are “pro-choice,” providing that the monies go only toward the good project.

However, in his recommendation on dealing with D&P, Archbishop Collins argued: “It is not enough to examine the suitability of individual projects. The organizations that operate the projects must also be in harmony with the principles of our Catholic faith. If they are not, then there are plenty of other worthy projects that are operated by organizations which we can in good conscience support, and funding should go to them.”

See the comprehensive LifeSiteNews Feature Page:

Development and Peace Funding of Pro-Abortion Groups 2009