Canadian bishops' charitable arm to end partnerships with groups in conflict with Catholic teaching

Canadian flag Credit Jiri Flogel Shutterstock CNA The flag of Canada. | Jiri Flogel/Shutterstock.

The Canadian bishops' conference announced Thursday that after a review of organizations that receive project funding from their international development agency, it will discontinue 24 partnerships over concerns about compatibility with Church teaching.

"In examining the partner organizations, the joint subcommittee focused its work around several questions, including whether the partner supported anything contrary to Catholic moral or social teaching, whether its actions might mislead others with respect to the same, whether the partner's professed values align with its actions online and on the ground, and whether the partner's actions could undermine the credibility of the Bishops in Canada or in the host country," the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Feb. 25.

The Canadian bishops and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada reviewed the CCODP's international partner organizations to which it gives project funding.

Out of 205 organizations, 63 were reviewed over "concerns that some of the non-financed activities and positions of international partner organizations might be in conflict with the Church's social and moral teachings."

The investigation was carried out by a joint subcommittee, mandated in 2017, of the bishops' conference and the CCODP.

Several dioceses withheld funds from the CCODP beginning in 2018 over findings that the agency has partnered with organizations upholding policies contradictory to Church teaching, particularly on matters of abortion, contraception, and gender theory.

The bishops' conference said that "through a rigorous and thorough process, clarifications were sought" from the partner organizations and from the bishops of the dioceses in which they are located.

Based on the subcommittee's recommendations, the bishops' conference and the CCODP agreed that there were no objections to 20 of the partnerships continuing, after "satisfactory clarifications [were] received from the partner"; 19 had already ended or were to do so soon, and were thus moot; and 24 will not continue.

The decision not to continue 24 of the partnerships follows in those cases "a lack of clarification to resolve serious questions regarding support for positions or actions in conflict with the Church's social and moral teachings."

The CCODP has agreed to revise its process for selecting international partners, with new criteria being developed. The bishops' conference will have a stake in the review and approval of partners.

The joint committee for reviewing partners "will also move the organization towards greater transparency on how projects and partner organizations are chosen, as well as to improving communications with the partner organizations and ensuring they are clearly informed of CCODP's Catholic identity, vision, mission and its expectations," the bishops' conference said.

"As a sign of this greater openness, steps are being implemented so that, in the future, the full list of CCODP's international partners will be made public, except in particular situations (e.g., areas of conflict) where the partner's safety could be endangered."

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