Canadian bishops clear charity of funding abortion groups in Mexico, Peru still in question

Archbishop James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Bishops' Conference
Archbishop James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Bishops' Conference


An investigating committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has submitted its report clearing a CCCB-run development agency of charges it helped fund pro-abortion groups in Mexico. However, the CCCB president said that reports of such funding for Peruvian groups require “clarification” from the Peruvian bishops.

In March published reports indicating that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) was distributing funds to five organizations that support the legalization of abortion and the distribution of contraceptives in Mexico.

During its June 18 meeting, the Permanent Council of the CCCB received a report and recommendations from its Committee of Inquiry established to investigate the allegations.

A CCCB press release initially said that there would be no further comment until the committee’s recommendations were published.

However, in a Thursday e-mail CCCB President and Archbishop of Winnipeg V. James Wiesgerber told CNA that the investigation of the five CCODP-supported groups in Mexico was “complete.”

“The delegation of bishops determined that that the allegations were unfounded,” he added, saying that the committee report will be distributed to CCCB members and will be discussed during the fall plenary session.
Development and Peace funding of pro-abortion groups is also alleged to have taken place in other Latin American countries.

The National Catholic Register has reported that the CCCB agency was supporting questionable “reproductive health” groups in Bolivia. One such organization, “Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral” (CEPROSI), supported a “strong pro-abortion law” in the country, a Bolivian pro-life advocate said.

Early in June, Archbishop Jose Eguren, President of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference’s Family, Childhood and Life Commission, wrote to CCCB president Archbishop James Weisgerber about similar allegations in Peru.

Archbishop Eguren’s letter said there was “no doubt” such funding has taken place, reporting each of the three
accused CCODP-funded groups “either explicitly endorses abortion, and/or contraception, either by name or by its various euphemisms.”

The Peruvian archbishop requested the Development and Peace funding be halted.

Speaking to CNA, Archbishop Weisgerber said there was “a lack of clarity” concerning the letter from the Peruvian Conference's Commission for Life and Family.

“CCODP has had a long and close relationship with the Peruvian Bishop's Commission for Justice and Peace. We are seeking clarification from the Peruvian Conference of Bishops as to their position on this matter.”

CNA asked the archbishop to confirm some of his remarks to Catholic News Service. He had said it was “very clear” from the direction of Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council that the church is to work with other people “but not, in a sense, blindly.”

Speaking to CNA, Archbishop Weisgerber said he’d like to add to those comments the phrase “provided, of course, that the common project does not contradict principles of our moral tradition."

He also referred to a paragraph of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Mater and Magistra, in which the Pontiff discussed Catholic interaction with those who do not share their view of life.

"We have to work with people whose values we are not necessarily in agreement with," he had told CNS.

The Canadian prelate the example of “yearly Vatican contributions to UNICEF, with which the Vatican has disagreed on contraception and abortion policy. Vatican donations are earmarked for specific programs or projects that reflect church priorities,” according to CNS.

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