In March 2009, LifeSiteNews.com revealed that Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the official international development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, had partnered with five different groups that promote abortion in Mexico in unrelated development projects. Later, further reports would show Development and Peace – or D&P for short – partnered with numerous pro-abortion groups around the world, revelations that would be confirmed by numerous independent sources.
On March 16, 2010, LifeSiteNews.com reported that D&P has produced a 10-page question and answer format document defending their actions and attacking LifeSite and Campaign Life Coalition. A source provided the document, entitled “Questioning Development and Peace,” which was distributed at an Ottawa church and the individual responsible for its circulation confirmed the existence of the paper and her responsibility in distributing it. Wambui Kipusi, a D&P national council member for Eastern Ontario said in an email to churches that the document as having been “prepared by D&P’s national office to help answer questions that came up last year as a result of the LifeSiteNews.com accusations.”
D&P criticized LSN and CLC, implying LifeSiteNews was not a legitimate news source and alleging both were “militant anti-abortion advocacy organization.” The web news service and the political arm of the Canadian pro-life movement, D&P charges, “are part of the far right wing fringe element of North American society and have themselves been associated with groups and individuals who have resorted to violence to publicize their cause and achieve their objective.” It goes on to say that CLC, through LifeSiteNews.com, “selectively targets and attacks individuals and groups who are not in conformity with their socially conservative political and moral ideology.”
In an interview with The Interim, CLC national president Jim Hughes, said he was shocked and outraged at D&P’s letter. He said it “is full of nasty and untrue attacks.” Citing just one example of the “factual errors” contained in the document, he noted that LifeSiteNews.com operates independently.
D&P executive director Michael Casey refused inquires to speak about the document.
The document called the initial reports a “slanderous attack campaign” and suggested they were unfounded. Last June, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops accepted a report from staff of D&P exonerating itself from any wrong doing. Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins was not satisfied with the findings of that earlier report and placed stringent stipulations on funding his archdiocese gave to D&P, including that projects would have to be approved by local bishops; many of the D&P partners are in conflict with the Catholic Church in their countries, attacking it over opposition to abortion, contraception and gay rights.
When the controversy originally broke 13 months ago, Casey told LifeSite that D&P did not consider or examine the position of partners on life issues. Hughes said that is unacceptable. “Catholic donors have the right to know that their money is not going to fund groups that are hostile to the church,” he said.
Hughes also points to another statement in the document in which D&P seems to differentiate between advocating for decriminalization of abortion and being pro-abortion. It states, “the principal advocacy issue which has spurred and fuelled the reactions of our attackers has been the issue of de-criminalization of abortion which remains a highly contentious issue in many societies.” Hughes said the issue “should not be contentious for Catholic charities because the moral issues involved are crystal clear.”
In 2009, Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Catholic Insight, called for the bishops to close D&P saying it was committed to a political ideology at odds with church teaching. Hughes said the new document “clearly exposes Development and Peace’s left-wing politics.”