“It is such a blessing from God to have my own boat. What I give of my catch is such a small thing compared to what we have been given.” Rodel Doble, a fisherman who received aid from Development and Peace and Caritas Philippines – NASSA after Super Typhoon Haiyan.(Photo- Development & Peace)

First update: October 27, 2018, 6:22 AM

Second Update: October 27, 2018, 8:50 AM

Third update:October 27, 2019, 12:09 PM

Canada

(This is a developing story. )

The Philippines has long been a recipient of aid from the Canadian organization-Development & Peace-Caritas Canada (D&P), the Canadian Catholic Church’s international development agency.

The latest and perhaps the most extensive is the recently completed Pope Francis Village in Tacloban, Leyte, hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. It will rebuild the lives of 550 families in the area.

D&P is currently under investigation by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) on alleged involvement with some partners who support abortion.

Here is my opinion of the issue. 

Collision course : Canada’s bishops and D&P-Caritas Canada and LifeSite’s role

Opinion

By Ted Alcuitas

Editor & Publisher

philippinecanadiannews.com

“Those funds belong to them,” says D&P head.

How is it that an organization founded more than 50 years ago on the tenets of Catholic teaching and grounded on the ‘preferential option of the poor’ is now being questioned by some Canadian bishops as not ‘Catholic’ enough?

Funds totalling between $2-4 million donated to Development & Peace (D&P-Caritas Canada) during last year’s annual Share Lent campaign are being withheld by some Canadian bishops (12 out of 70) including Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller because of allegations that D&P are partnering with pro-abortion groups abroad.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, with more than 10,000 members, is the official international development organization of the Church in Canada, and one of 160 members of Caritas  Internationalis. It was established by the Bishops of  Canada in 1967 to foster

Bishop Lionel Gendron questions whether D&P is “Catholic”. (CCCB photo)

Serge Langlois, Executive Director of Development & Peace-Caritas Canada. D&P says the money belongs to them (the poor).(D&P photo)

justice and integral human development in the southern hemisphere.

Speaking through its head, Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) says it  “wants to ensure people working at the diocesan level to help those in the global south understand what the problem is regarding concerns about Development and Peace, – that we are Catholic and want to be Catholic,” Gendron told The B.C. Catholic.

The ‘problem’ Gendron is speaking about is the allegation brought about by LifeSiteNews(not the first time) that D&P is funding projects that are allegedly linked to abortion.

An innocuous inquiry by the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) back in the fall regarding a women’s health clinic in Haiti, a D&P partner, triggered the current controversy.

According to Grandin News, CWL ‘heard’ that the clinic director expressed support for legalized abortion. An investigation by D&P discovered the allegations were unfounded and even provided CWL with a letter from the local bishop expressing support for D&P’s assistance to the clinic.

Where did CWL ‘heard’ the news from?

A report presented to the February meeting of the 25-member Assembly of Western and Northern Canadian Catholic Bishops in Winnipeg raised questions about non-compliance with Catholic teaching in such areas as abortion, contraception, sterilization, same-sex relations and gender theory,according to Grandin News.

 According to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity, someone from inside the CCCB “leaked” the still uncompleted review.

D&P provided CCCB with a list of 200 partners which was whittled down to 40 after passing through a rigorous process, said the source.

It was this review that prompted Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith to write a letter to parishioners on April 4, 2018 withholding the funds and describing the review as “alarming.” 

 “An estimated forty partners appear  (italics mine) to show evidence of conflict with Catholic moral and social teaching and, in particular, that they do not demonstrate full respect for the sanctity of human life,” he wrote.

Shortly after Smith’s letter, two other Alberta bishops  and Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver and other bishops in B.C. followed suit issuing almost verbatim letters copied from Smith’s. 

LifeSiteNews exploited the announcements with a series of carefully crafted headlines designed to discredit D&P, beginning with the first three bishops to six, until the final 12 bishops completed the list of those who withheld funds.

The 12 include Bishop Gary Gordon of Victoria; Bishop Joseph Phuong Nguyen of Kamloops, British Columbia; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto; Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg; Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver; Bishop Hector Vila of Whitehorse; Bishop-Elect Gregory Bittman of Nelson; Bishop Gerard Bergie of St. Catharines; Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton; Bishop Paul Terrio of St. Paul; Bishop William McGratten of Calgary, Alberta; and Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon.

Reactions from the trenches 

With the so-called investigation dragging on, grassroots volunteers of D& P are getting increasingly impatient and angry, feeling betrayed by the bishops. 

“Those funds belong to them,” (referring to the poor) says Serge Langlois, director general of D&P in refuting the allegations.

“None of the specific projects funded by Development and Peace were contrary to Catholic teaching or social doctrine,” Langlois told the French-language news site Présence, according  to B.C. Catholic.

“By what right do the recalcitrant bishops have to withhold funds expressly donated by us, the laity, for the starving and dislocated brothers and sisters in the Global South on the spurious assumption that the recipients are not in complete concert with Catholic doctrine?”, asks a furious Arnold Richardson, a long-time D&P volunteer.

A pastor in Sydney, Cape Breton, is ‘astounded and appalled at the Western Bishops’ letter and claims it is not an issue at all there, nor in Quebec and Acadia, nor in some parts of Northern Ontario, according to Richardson in an email to this writer. 

 “Development and Peace has faithfully responded to the preferential option for the poor since 1967. But now some bishops cite moral issues of doubtful relevance to this issue to justify allowing thousands of desperately poor people who need basic sustenance to go without and thousands more to face death. Unintended consequences, perhaps. But very real.” Richardson adds.

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller is more familiar with what D&P has done in the Global South especially in the Philippines where a majority of his flock come from.

He visited the City of Tacloban, hardest hit by the devastating typhoon Haiyan in 2013 where D&P, in partnership with other organizations, was building homes for 550 typhoon victims. The Pope Francis Village,  funded mainly by D&P contributions is nearing completion.

https://www.devp.org/en/articles/development-and-peace-caritas-canada-launches-new-documentary-after-storm-building-pope

Archbishop Michael Miller (middle) and the Canadian delegation is seen here with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila (to Miller’s right) during a visit to the Philippines. Fr. ‘Edu’ Gariguez (2nd from left) , Secretary General of Caritas – Philippines was twice a D&P Solidarity visitor to Canada.  (D&P photo)

The Vancouver diocese alone collected over a million dollars, the second largest in Canada in the emergency appeal following the typhoon. $13 million in total where collected in Canada for Typhoon Haiyan. 

In June this year, Miller played host to Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the head of Caritas Internationale, of which D&P is the Canadian member.

It is projects like Pope Francis Village that is jeopardized if funds are being held by the 12 bishops are not made available.

Reactions by these bishops is not surprising given that they rely on allegations made by LifeSiteNews, one of the organizations which played a prominent role in the dirty job of trying to unseat Pope Francis.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s letter denouncing Pope Francis was “translated into English by Diane Montagna of the conservative LifeSiteNews, which published it at the same time and often carries full texts of speeches by Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the pope’s fiercest critics,” according to Reuters. 

The U.S. and Italian conservative Catholic media are “all part of one world,” claims  The Washington Post .

The current editor of The B.C. Catholic, Paul Schratz is a staunch anti-abortion crusader who applauded the killing of an abortion doctor 20 years ago.

Paul Schratz, editor of The B.C. Catholic. (Twitter photo)

Here’s what the Chicago Tribune said at the time.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Nov. 4, 1998

Killing doctors who perform abortions “might have some positive side effects,” according to a Roman Catholic newspaper editor in Vancouver.

The editorial on the shooting death of Dr. Barnett Slepian was signed by Paul Schratz in The British Columbia  Catholic, the official paper of the archbishop of Vancouver.

Slepian’s murder on Oct. 23 in Amherst, N.Y., is believed to be linked to four other sniper attacks since 1994, three in Canada, on doctors who did abortions. A Canadian-U.S. task force is investigating the shootings.

“Murders of abortionists just might have some positive side effects,” Schratz wrote, although he did suggest later in the editorial that the killing was wrong by saying “sin produces more sin.” 

Schratz was never reprimanded by then Archbishop Adam Exner who only ‘distanced’ himself from the editorial. Instead, Schratz was promoted to a newly created position of Communications Director  by Archbishop Michael Miller and is now back at the helm of The B.C. Catholic.

With the demise of Saskatchewan’s Prairie Messenger and Alberta’s Western Catholic Reporter, Canada today remains a bastion of the Catholic conservative media.

The B.C. Catholic and Toronto’s The Catholic Register are the only remaining print media in Canada with the online Grandin Media replacing Edmonton’s Western Catholic Reporter.

All three outlets regularly source its news from LifeSiteNews. 

LifeSiteNews was recently ‘banned’ from covering CCCB meetings for the third time including the last meeting in Cornwall, Ontario, its website says.

Bishops were concerned over the news’ outlet’s “tone and style,” in issuing the ban, it says.

Yet, the so-called Catholic media continues to trust them, sowing discord among people who want to follow the Pope’s call for the “preferential option for the poor.”

https://www.devp.org/en/emergencies/philippines

(Ted Alcuitas has been a long-time member of Development & Peace- Caritas Canada and was on the National Council for a time. He lives in Vancouver, B.C.)