Citing “several serious concerns” about the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s reported funding of five pro-abortion groups working in Latin America and Mexico, Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has officially announced the matter is being investigated.
However, he still encouraged Canada’s Catholics to support the Catholic Church’s official development organization’s “Share Lent” donation campaign, insisting that it is a pro-life agency.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has reportedly distributed funds to several organizations that support the legalization of abortion and encourage the distribution of contraceptives in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Susana Inch Sainze, a Bolivian pro-life activist and attorney, told the National Catholic Register that one CCODP-funded group, Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral (CEPROSI), was “one of the most militant, radical and active” groups pressing for a strong pro-abortion law during Bolivia’s 2004-2005 legislative year.
Archbishop Weisgerber, of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, wrote a March 19 letter on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) addressing the CCODP’s alleged support for such organizations, saying:
“Over the past few days, several serious concerns have been expressed about projects involving five groups in Mexico, which the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has assisted with financing.
On March 18, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto Richard Grecco explained to CNA that Michael Casey, the director of Development and Peace informed him that “each agency and project” that was mentioned in an investigative report by Lifesite News was being “investigated in detail to determine the accuracy of the allegations being made.”
“I hope and pray that the allegations are false,” Bishop Grecco continued. “However, if such is not to be the case, then I expect D&P to cease support of projects and sever connections with foreign partners that support or finance abortions.”
Officially announcing the investigations on March 19, Archbishop Weisgerber said, “The questions that have been raised are important, and are being carefully looked into by Development and Peace. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is working closely with Development and Peace to clarify these questions and to ensure that, if necessary, rectifications are made.”
However, the archbishop added that dioceses and parishes should recognize the “tremendous importance” of the CCODP’s Share Lent collection. He said the financial crisis, which is having a “painful impact” in Canada, is “disastrous” for those in the Global South.
“Sharing temporal riches and giving to the needy have always been part of the threefold Lenten tradition for Christians: prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” Archbishop Weisgerber said, adding that the CCODP “respects the sacredness of human life from conception to its natural end.”