Are Canadian Bishops Helping to Support Abortion in Mexico?

Deal W. Hudson
April 23, 2009

Last year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) announced it would no longer fund the community-organizing arm of ACORN, a decision based on the disclosure of ACORN’s explicitly partisan efforts on behalf of President Barack Obama’s political campaign.

Now a much more egregious use of Catholic money has been alleged. LifeSiteNews (LSN), which operates primarily out of Toronto and is leading the investigation, has presented evidence that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (CCODP), an official arm of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, is funding 16 organizations in 9 countries who advocate in favor of abortion and/or contraception.

At first, the Canadian Bishops’ Conference paid little heed to the evidence against CCODP and instead urged Catholics to continue giving to the organization. Two Canadian bishops called LSN’s reporting “false” and “malicious.” After months of following the story, however, it began to gain traction. An editorial in the Catholic newspaper of Vancouver acknowledged the scope of the CCODP scandal. Vancouver’s Archbishop, J. Michael Miller, and several other bishops demanded an internal investigation of CCODP before passing along its share of the annual Lenten collection. As a result, CCODP has asked a group of Canadian, U.S., and Mexican bishops to investigate the allegations.

This isn’t a new charge. In 2000, the CCODP was forced to stop funding the pro-abortion World March of Women after LifeSiteNews reported on the issue. That led to a huge controversy in Canada, with bishops publicly disagreeing with each other, creating widespread mainstream media coverage of the issue.

But CCODP’s denials will be considerably weakened after Wednesday’s interview on LSN with the Mexican official of an organization receiving CCODP grants ($32,000 in 2007-2008). Ofelia Pastrana Morena, the general coordinator of the Comaletzin Rural Feminist Interregional Coordinator, said in a telephone interview yesterday that the organization promotes the use of artificial birth control and “sexual and reproductive health services.” According to Pastrana Morena, if contraceptives fail, her organization seeks to make abortion available to women who don’t want what she called the “product” of conception, meaning the unborn child.

This is what’s known as a smoking gun – positive proof of LSN’s allegations that CCODP is funding at least one organization that recommends abortion for women. The question then is whether or not this will motivate the Canadian bishops to go beyond a simple internal investigation and scrutinize the grant-making of CCODP as closely as it deserves.

One disturbing aspect of the story is how CCODP and many of the Canadian bishops initially responded to the evidence. Before LSN released its first story, it contacted CCODP, where a representative told them that the organization has “no policy for or against” abortion. Its spokesman was completely unconcerned over whether the group was involved in pro-abortion activities.

After LSN released its first report, CCODP responded by releasing a memo saying that it was not involved in funding organizations that provide “abortion services,” an accusation LSN never made. CCODP executive director Michael Casey also wrote to CCODP supporters saying, “It is dangerously irresponsible and slanderous on the part of some journalists, through ill-conceived conjecture and hypothesis, to deliberately misinterpret the social justice initiatives of our southern partners in this light.”

CCODP has continued to deny that it funds organizations that provide “abortion services.” Meanwhile, it has only addressed LSN’s first report, the one in which they presented information about five of its Mexican partners. Since then, LSN has produced numerous reports, many with much stronger evidence that CCODP has refused to acknowledge.

LifeSiteNews has done the reporting and provided the evidence necessary for a serious and thorough investigation of the CCODP. Whether its administrative officers will respond as quickly and definitively as the CCHD in the United States remains to be seen.

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If you would like to urge the Canadian bishops to stop funding organizations that support abortion, contact the bishops’ conference:

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
2500 Don Reid Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1H 2J2
Phone: (613) 241-9461
Fax: (613) 241-9048

A complete list of contact information for the Canadian bishops may be found here.

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