Pro-Life Leaders Representing 170 Nations Praise Bishops Who Withheld Funds from Development and Peace

by John-Henry Westen

OTTAWA, October 13, 2009 ( – As the Bishops of Canada prepare to meet for their annual Plenary Assembly in Cornwall Ontario later this month, the International Right to Life Federation (IRTL) has written the bishops a letter regarding the recent controversy over the international development arm of the Conference – the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P). Investigations over the past year have revealed that D&P has been funding dozens of organizations that support abortion and contraception, or otherwise undermine Catholic moral teaching.

The IRTL letter was sent to the Primate of Canada, Quebec City Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

Representing national pro-life organizations from over 170 countries, the IRTL thanks “the Canadian bishops who have prudently decided to withhold funds in the future from projects of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace until it has been determined that the recipients do not promote issues contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The matter was discussed as the 11-member board of IRTL met last month in London England.  The 11 board members represent Africa, the Indian Sub-Continent, Australia/New Zealand, the Pacific Rim, South America, the United States, Canada, Eastern Europe, Great Britain, and with two representatives from Western Europe.

The IRTL letter, signed by President Jack Wilke, MD, notes that IRTL “has been deeply concerned to note the clear evidence of pro-abortion organizations receiving support from funds raised by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace (CCODP), which we understand to be an official arm of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference.”

The letter expresses the group’s concerns and support for the bishops’ “action to correct the situation.”

In reference to a solution to the problem proposed by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, the IRTL said, “By working with the local bishops to determine the worthiness of the projects, the prospect of Church organizations and local pro-life efforts being undermined will be eliminated.” The Toronto Archbishop announced in July that he would allocate $1.125m to D&P, but only for projects that have been approved by the local bishop in the country where the project is located.

In his statement announcing the decision, Collins had said that the upcoming year should be one of “profound renewal” for D&P, and threatened that “future ShareLife funding for Development and Peace will depend upon our assessment of the degree to which the issues that concern us have been resolved.”

See the full open letter here.

Contact information for respectful communications to any Canadian bishop.