Last month on Perspectives, S+L reported from the annual plenary assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Of particular interest to pro-life and social justice advocates, the agenda included a
on Development and Peace (CCODP). CCODP is the official international development agency of the Catholic Church in Canada. On Monday the bishops
The committee's mandate was to assist Development and Peace as it re-examined its principles and mandate in light of Pope Benedict’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate
. The “renewal process” followed reports that CCODP was working with some partner organizations who engaged in pro-abortion advocacy. The projects specifically funded by CCODP were not related to abortion.
With the cooperation of Development and Peace, the Ad Hoc committee reviewed all 248 projects that the organization was funding. The bishops said that they received “complete and detailed information” and “full disclosure” throughout the lengthy process. The bishops concluded that they were “satisfied” with the results of their inquiry.
The committee reported that CCODP is now preparing new protocols. One such regulation would require its partners to disclose involvement in work that would “contradict Catholic principles of respect for life”. Moreover, revisions to the CCODP Partnership Agreement “will reflect the obligation to respect life values and conformity with Church teachings”. The committee notes that these changes may take months to formally approve, given CCODP's by-law process.
A new protocol already in place resembles a funding restriction established by the Archdiocese of Toronto. In July 2009, Archbishop Thomas Collins placed conditions on the allocation of ShareLife funds to Development and Peace. To distribute Toronto's donation, CCODP needed to obtain approval from the local bishop where the project was taking place. A similar requirement now extends to all CCODP's projects. Program officers will routinely visit the local bishop to inform him about their funding relationship with the local partner organization.
The new protocols could spur reforms of other Catholic development organizations. The Ad Hoc committee noted that Caritas Internationalis was “following the current CCODP renewal process with considerable interest”, given “similar concerns” about Catholic Relief Services and CAFOD, operating in the United States and Great Britain respectively.
Photo: CCN / Deborah Gyapong